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Psalm 84

Psalm 24 is a bit EROTIC!

What? I’m a preacher’s kid – Sunday School, even seminary trained. But I don’t remember Robert Altar’s viewpoint ever coming up in sermons or Bible studies: “The term translated as ‘lovely,’ yedidot, is associated with dod, ‘lover,’ and dodim, ‘lovemaking,’ and conveys a virtually erotic intensity in the speaker’s longing for the temple on Mount Zion.”[i] I added the bold text to bring focus. The classic KJV’s ‘amiable’ fails to carry the intense desire the psalmist expressed for the ‘lovely’ Temple, but, more importantly, for God himself whose Temple it was.

Hebrew describes love with five different words:[ii]

  1. Raya is a brotherly love that we have with close friends, companions and, yes, BFF’s.

  2. Ahava is a committed, fierce love. This anchors us to our spouse. In the Old Testament, ahava is the word most used word for love. It describes the love of a parent for a child, spouses for each other, and even applies to love of food. It’s used for loving God (Deuteronomy 6:5) and for loving neighbor (Leviticus 19:18).

  3. Chesed should be understood as ‘steadfast love,’ ‘loving-kindness,’ or ‘unfailing love.’ This is a covenant love shared by spouses in their commitment to marriage. It is also the covenant love in which God holds us.

  4. Dod is an intimate, physical relationship. It literally means to caress or fondle. It seems to have originated from the word ‘boil.’

With this in mind, reread verses 1 & 2. Do we have the same compelling, even boiling desire for God and his New Testament Temple – the gathering of believers? This is not meant to cause guilt. Now that I’m entering my 8th decade on earth, I’m noticing that I, and a number of my friends, are expressing a deeper desire to take time with God. My recommendation: keep seeking his face, and desire for him will grow.

The titles which scholars have given to this psalm may help you title your sermon:

  1. The Pilgrim’s Love and Longing for God and His House – David Guzik

  2. The Psalm of the Janitors – James Montgomery Boice

  3. Even the Sparrow – James Limburg

  4. Homesickness – Donald M. Williams

  5. The Pull of Home – Derek Kidner

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