Psalms 84 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
With Psalms 83 the Asaphite division of the Elohistic collection ends; and Psalms 84-89 form an appendix to that collection, which shews but few indications of the hand of the Elohistic editor. It can however still be traced in Psalms 84 in the phrase Jehovah Elôhîm Tsebâôth ( Psa 84:8), and in the absolute use of God ( Psa 84:9), by the side of Jehovah ( Psa 84:1-3 ; Psa 84:8 ; Psa 84:11-12).
Psalms 84 is a companion poem to Psalms 42-43. It is animated by the same spirit of enthusiastic devotion to the service of God and love for the worship of the Temple. It makes use of the same expressions (e.g. tabernacles, or dwelling-place, Psa 84:1; the living God, Psa 84:2; appear before God, Psa 84:7); and it presents the same structure of three equal stanzas, which are divided by musical interludes, instead of by refrains as in Psalms 42-43.
These Psalms may have been written by the same poet, though under widely different circumstances. In Psalms 42-43 the leading motive is the pain of being debarred from approaching the sanctuary: in Psalms 84 it is joy at the privilege of access to it. The author’s feet seem to be already standing in the gates of Jerusalem. It is virtually a pilgrim song, though it is not included in the special collection of “Songs of Going up” ( Introd. p. xxviii).
It clearly belongs to a time when the Temple was standing, and its services were regularly carried on; and if thine anointed ( Psa 84:9) refers (as it is most natural to suppose) to the king, it must be assigned to the period of the monarchy. But more than this it is impossible to say. Some attempts to fix the date of the companion Psalms 42-43 have been considered in the introduction to those Psalms, and shewn to be improbable. Certainly it cannot, as Delitzsch supposes, be so early as the time of David. The Temple is a permanent building with courts and chambers annexed to it for resident ministers; its services appear to be of long standing; and pilgrimages to it are an established part of the national religious life.
But as “the Psalter in its spiritual fulness belongs to no special time,” so “this Psalm is the hymn of the Divine life in all ages. It brings before us the grace and the glory of sacrifice, of service, of progress, where God alone, the Lord of Hosts, is the source and the strength and the end of effort.” (Bp Westcott.)
The Psalm is divided into three equal stanzas by Selah, marking a musical interlude after Psa 84:4 ; Psa 84:8. At first sight this division seems unsatisfactory, because it separates verses of similar form and meaning; and it may be thought preferable to treat the Ps. as consisting of two stanzas only: Psa 84:1-7 ; Psalms 8-12. But the triple division is probably right, and corresponds to the triple division of Psalms 42-43. The second and third stanzas open with words suggested by the close of the first and second stanzas respectively, and the connexion of thought appears to be as follows:
ii. Happy too are those who in the strength of God surmount all obstacles, and appearing in His Presence offer their prayers (Psa 84:5-8).
iii. The preciousness of the privilege of access to God, Who is the unfailing source of blessing for those who trust in Him (Psa 84:9-12).
Beside Psalms 42-43, Psalms 27, 61, 63 should be compared.
On the title, For the chief Musician; set to the Gittith. A Psalm of the sons of Korah (R.V.), see Introd. pp. xxi, xxv, and pp. 223ff.
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".