Most of us know this Psalm. We may not know that it’s this Psalm, but we know it. Many songs have been written from this Psalm. Well known today is “Better is One Day” by Matt Redman. It’s a good song for a good Psalm! I just wish I actually believed it sometimes…
Pastor, don’t you love those Sundays where everything goes well and it is obvious that you’ve been in the presence of the Lord? On those Sunday’s it might be easier to pray this Psalm than the ones we remember. If you’re anything like me, you remember the Sunday’s where things don’t go as well as you’d like. Maybe attendance was down. Maybe there was a problem with the lyrics in the projection. Maybe you received an email from someone in the church about how they’ll be leaving because they haven’t been “fed.” Maybe you didn’t get any notice and they’re just gone.
Those weeks it might be harder to join in with the Psalmist. Those weeks it’s tough to say, “a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.”
Sure, we may not want to live in the tent of wickedness, per se, but, if we’re honest, sometimes it’s hard to say we’d rather be in the house of God. Sometimes we may not believe that a day in the courts of the Lord is better than a thousand elsewhere.
Pastor, do you believe that those who trust in the Lord have happy hearts? Do you have a happy heart? Do you believe that when the faithful walk through the valley they turn it into a spring?
This week is one of those weeks where I struggle to believe this Psalm… I write this on a Monday towards the end of summer. This means that families are gone frequently. This means that people are taking those vacations they said they were going to all summer. This means people are exhausted because they are finally getting to their summer projects they procrastinated.
This means I’m critical of the things other people have placed above worship. Projects. Work. Vacation. Family.
This last one is a big one… It seems we idolize Family in North American culture. I frequently hear, “Family First.” My ecclesiology doesn’t permit me to affirm this.
Further, when parishioners choose family over worship, I’m keenly reminded that my wife and I haven’t started ours. I’m made very aware that we can’t start ours. When parishioners tell me they needed to be with their family instead of worship, I remember that my wife and I have been trying to conceive (TTC for those in the infertility community) for over 5 years now.
Can I confess to you (or maybe with you) that some weeks I don’t actually believe this Psalm?
Here is the problem with this Psalm, friends. It was written, “To the leader…” As easy as it is to ignore the qualifiers that haven’t been given a verse number we need to recognize the intended audience for this Psalm. So, Pastor, this Psalm is for you…
Maybe this Psalm exists for us in those times when we forget that the dwelling place of the Lord isn’t a utopia. Maybe this Psalm is for us pastors when we get bogged down in the messiness of the Church.
But maybe that is the beauty of the covenant people of God! We’re broken, yet God is with us. We’re messy, but we live in relationship. We’re flighty but God is faithful.
Maybe, Pastor, this Psalm isn’t to be believed, but is to be confessed even in the midst of unbelief! Maybe, Pastor, we need to confess this Psalm even when we don’t believe it so that our parishioners can confess it when they struggle to believe it, too.
Will you join me in confessing that which I struggle to believe?
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord.