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PASSIONATE WORSHIP!
PSALM 84
SERMON

Last Sunday I started a new sermon series on worship. I preached from Acts, chapter 2 about the
early church and their worship of God. We studied their example of participating in worship.
Luke reported in Acts that the early church worshipped God every day. Gradually the church
moved to a once a week worship celebration on the Lord’s Day. I stressed the importance of
developing the habit of weekly worship; making regular worship attendance a very high priority!

In December 1979 I attended the Urbana Student Missions Conference in Urbana, Illinois. Inter-
Varsity Christian Fellowship sponsors this conference every three years for collegians interested
in the mission field. I had just been ordained into the ministry and took several college students
from the church I served in Sacramento to the conference. We spent a week hearing speakers,
browsing through displays of various mission organizations, reading books and talking with each
other. The highlight of the conference proved to be the time we spent every morning in worship.
I had counseled at Billy Graham crusades so singing Christian hymns and songs with thousands
of people was a familiar experience. But I had never sung with people so fervent and passionate
about their faith and worship of God! The incredible sounds of 19,000 energetic Christian
collegians and pastors singing praises to God with great enthusiasm and ardor will be forever
engraved in my heart and mind!

I want to speak today about how we can engage in passionate worship. The psalmist in Psalm 84
encourages us to worship God with passion! Worship God with great passion! Whenever
we worship God, we should do so passionately! Webster defines “passion” as: “a strong liking
for or devotion to some activity, object or concept.” I like that definition!: “a strong liking for or
devotion to some activity, object or concept.” When we worship God passionately we express a
strong liking, an ardent affection for God! We give God everything we have: our hearts, souls,
minds and spirits!

If you’d turn your bulletins to the middle, you’ll see the point of the message this morning:
worship God passionately! Whenever you worship God, be willing to express a strong liking
for God! Look in Psalm 84:1-2 “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My
soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the
living God”. Note the passion with which the psalmist expresses his heart for God and
worship! He’s expressing a strong liking, an ardent affection for God!

In previous messages that I’ve preached on the theme of worship, I’ve taught that worship
involves an enthusiastic recognition of God’s supreme worth. Further, I’ve preached that God
must occupy the central role in worship, not us. Making God the center of our worship can be
challenging because our culture teaches us that we are the center of our universe, not God. To
worship God adequately, appropriately and passionately, we must struggle against our own likes
and dislikes and the tendencies of our culture. When we worship God we recognize that God
rules the universe, He’s the central figure in the universe and in all of history and we must
worship Him passionately!
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Psalm 84 was sung as a worship song at the three Jewish Pilgrim Festival celebrations: The
Festivals of Passover, Weeks and Booths. Scholars have had difficulty pinpointing the actual
date of this psalm. In Psalm 84 the psalmist addresses this question: “what does it take to
worship God passionately? In other words, what should we bring to the worship experience to
truly worship with passion? The psalmist writes of three important ingredients we should bring
with us to every worship experience:

1. Bring a yearning for God when you come to worship! (vs.1-4)


Vs.1-The psalmist writes with great enthusiasm of the majestic Temple in Jerusalem. The
psalmist addresses God directly, notice, “How lovely is your dwelling place”. He uses the term
“dwelling place” to refer to the Temple. The word for “dwelling place” is plural in the original
text. He’s referring to the various parts of the Temple such as the courts, the gates, the holy
place, holy of holies, the mercy seat of God and so forth.

What does this mean for us today? It means that we can gather anywhere for worship, including
places such as a modern multi-purpose building, a gym, an old church building, a warehouse, by
the seashore, or under the trees. God will be present with his people by his Holy Spirit wherever
we gather! Since New Testament times, God has shown us it’s not the place that’s important but
the Lord among us by His Spirit.

Vs.2- By “soul” the psalmist means his innermost being, the part which lives forever. The word
“yearn” comes from the root word meaning “to bring a process to completion”. What process
needs to be brought to completion? Being present in the temple courts with the Lord! More
than anything else, the psalmist wants to meet God in worship! What passion he brings to meet
God! He loves worship!!

Do you bring passion for God with you to worship on Sunday mornings? When I speak of
passion, I don’t mean big emotional outbursts featuring lots of laughter or tears or rolling in the
aisles. Rather, we should bring our minds, our hearts and wills, prepared to be fully engaged in
the worship experience. Some people limit worship to a cerebral experience. They check their
emotions at the door before entering. Others limit worship to strictly an emotive experience.
They check their minds at the door. God wants us to be fully engaged when we worship Him,
utilizing our minds, hearts and wills, every faculty He’s given us! Strive to worship God with
your whole being, with every single faculty! In our Reformed tradition most of us could stand a
little more emotion! They don’t call us the “frozen chosen” for nothing!
Vs.3 The psalmist envisions birds, swallows and sparrows nesting in the nooks and crannies of
the Temple. Charles Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher preached a whole sermon on this verse
of scripture. He titled it “Sparrows and Swallows”.

Spurgeon pointed out that just as birds have their nests in the Temple of God, children should be
part of the worship experience. Young people raised in worship, like young swallows will likely
return to worship. But they need prayer, example and training. Children do not take to religion
like ducks to water; they must be led and trained with earnest care. I’m glad that so many of you
who are parents take your role of Christian parenting seriously! You understand the importance
of bringing your children to worship and Sunday school on a regular basis. Many of you strive
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to provide good examples in your home of godly behavior and speech. We as a church want to
support you with your parental responsibilities! Keep up the good work!
Vs.4 Who does the psalmist refer to when he writes, “those who dwell in your house”? He
refers to the priests who live in the Temple courts. He says these priests “are ever praising
you”. Apparently, the priests, the professional men of God, never got tired of praising God and
worshipping God passionately! So, we should bring a yearning for God but we also want to:

2. Bring a sense of anticipation and desire to be changed to worship. (vs. 5-7)


vs.5- The psalmist repeats the word “blessed” from vs.4,where he has declared a blessing for the
priests of God. In vs.5, he declares the blessing of God to be more inclusive. Blessings from
God will be given to all, “whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage”.
This passage and the next verse refer to the Jewish pilgrims flocking into Jerusalem for the
Festivals. These pilgrims had left their homes in other locales of Israel with a sense of
anticipation. They walked the dusty roads, anticipating meeting God in worship at the Temple
in Jerusalem. I pointed out that Psalm 84 can be categorized as a “pilgrim psalm” and these next
several verses reflect that category.

Like these ancient Jews, come to worship each week with a strong sense of anticipation! Come
expecting to meet God! Let’s do a little exercise. Picture yourself walking around a shopping
mall. Suddenly, you get a whiff of cinnamon. It’s a wonderful smell that makes you salivate.
You weren’t even hungry but now you really crave a cinnamon roll. You were simply minding
your own business, when some drifting molecules of sugar, butter and spice collided with a
susceptible patch inside your nose. You had a real encounter with cinnamon, not a mental
delusion, not an emotional projection but the real thing! And what was the effect of all of this?
You want more, right now! You might even make your way over to the cinnamon roll store!
You do so joyfully, fully anticipating that your desire for more of that wonderful aroma will be
met. This is the way God wants us to enter worship! We enter worship with joy and
anticipation!

vs.6-7 What is the “valley of Baca”? The word “Baca” refers to balsam trees which existed in
an arid, foreboding passageway that Jewish pilgrims passed through to get to Jerusalem. They
would trek through this dry, arid valley which offered very little water for tired and thirsty
pilgrims. But note what the pilgrims would do: “they make it a place of springs; the autumn
rains cover it with pools”. “Springs” refers to water, or life. The word “pools” can mean
“blessings”. I believe the psalmist wrote metaphorically. The pilgrims endured tough and
difficult times while travelling to Jerusalem but they did it with a positive, determined spirit of
anticipation! They anticipated meeting God in worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. With this
spirit of anticipation they made the valley of Baca “a place of springs”. In other words, the
hard, dusty journey teemed with life and blessing because of their attitude of anticipation.

We too must sometimes pass through the Valley of Baca. At times we too must endure dry,
difficult times of struggle and heartache and problems in our lives. It might be the physical and
emotional drain we feel from the hectic schedule of our work and children’s activities. Or, we
experience the shattering of a long cherished dream, or the emergence of a serious health concern
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or the sudden, unexpected loss of a dear friend. It could be the daily grind of caring for a loved
one or dealing with difficult in-laws or work associates.

When we struggle with problems, it’s tempting to abandon attending worship because we feel
that God’s not listening to us or answering our prayers. But God does hear our prayers! God
can transform our struggles into blessings! I believe God allows difficulties to occur in our lives
to draw us back to Him or to teach us more about Him. In worship, offer God your problems,
difficulties and heartaches. Anticipate God using them for his glory and his greater purposes.
Later in the service we will invite you to come up for prayers of healing. These prayers can also
be concerns and problems that need to be resolved.

Enter worship each Sunday with a genuine sense of anticipation! In worship, offer God your life
and celebrate His great worth! In the presence of a holy God you can be changed! God can give
you the wisdom and strength to meet the challenges of your life. God can pour out His strength,
wisdom, comfort, and hope as you meet him in worship and offer him your life. Learn to
surrender your life each week to Him. Finally:

3. Bring a desire to communicate with God as you come to worship. (vs. 8-12)

In worship God speaks to us in prayer, by his Spirit and his Word.


Vs.8-9 The psalmist prayed a personal prayer for the king. His references to “our shield” and
“your anointed one” indicate that he prayed for the king. In fact, the Jews would use the word
for “shield” as a royal title for the king. The psalmist pleaded with God to look with favor upon
the king so his reign will be established and prosper.
Vs.10- I love this verse! The psalmist cherishes the presence of God! He expressed a clear cut
preference for God: one day, just one day in the courts of the Temple of God, in the very
presence of God is far better than 1,000 days elsewhere! We sang that wonderful chorus earlier
in our service. Note how the psalmist communicates this thought directly to God! Further, the
psalmist would rather work as a doorkeeper in the Temple than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
In other words, he loves being in the presence of God so much that he would rather work as a
servant in God’s Temple than dwell at ease in the tents of the wicked. Do you know the chorus,
“Surely the Presence of the Lord is in this place?” I’ve been singing that chorus for the past
several weeks. Let’s sing it together: “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place, I can
feel His mighty power and His grace! I can hear the brush of angel’s wings, I seek glory on
each face, surely the presence of the Lord is in this place!”

Vs.11 This verse, a causal clause, explains the statement he just made. Note how he shifts from
speaking to God in the first person to referring to God in the third person. The psalmist had
stated that he would rather work as a servant for God than live at ease in the tents of wickedness
because God bestows favor, honor and the blessings of enlightenment, protection and
empowerment. When we worship God and enjoy his presence, we receive blessings! God grants
us the light of his presence to help us know how to proceed in life. Many times we lack clear
vision but God can help light our way. He grants us protection for our journey through life. He
empowers us with his Holy Spirit for the ordeals and trials and difficulties we encounter. But
when we dwell at ease in the tents of wickedness we do not receive these wonderful blessings.
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Vs.12 The psalmist moves back to speaking to God in the first person: “O Lord Almighty,
blessed is the man who trusts in you”. People who worship God passionately, who bring a
sense of yearning, an anticipation of meeting God and a desire to communicate with God, reflect
a deep seated trust in God. That’s why the psalmist concluded this psalm with this statement of
trust. He began the psalm speaking to God in the first person, “how lovely is your dwelling
place O Lord Almighty” and he ends the psalm speaking to God in the first person, “O Lord
Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you”. So, he’s come full circle!

This psalmist clearly brings a desire to communicate with God when he worships. We too
should bring this same desire to communicate with God to our worship experience. We should
come prepared to listen to God through His Word and the prayers and also ready to speak to Him
through the prayers and in song.

We’ve learned today that we should worship God passionately! This means that you bring a
yearning for God with you into the worship experience! When you come to worship, fully
engage your heart, mind and will. Bring a sense of anticipation and desire to be changed.
Finally, bring a desire to communicate with the living God with you.

You might have a need for healing of some kind today: physical, emotional, healing of
memories, etc. We’d like to pray for you, if you’d like. Could the elders and prayer team people
get up and stand and make yourselves available for prayer? Please, make use of this
opportunity!