How is your pilgrimage going? The life of a pilgrim is not easy; in the wilderness many things can aggravate and annoy. Maybe that is why the Lord’s pilgrims like to sing. Psalm 84 is a great pilgrim song that never disappoints. It refreshes and strengthens the faithful, filling them with hope.
Listen to a shortened version of Psalm 84 here, and then let’s consider the whole psalm.
Psalm 84 has three main parts. I would encourage you to read the verses in each part out loud:
Part One: Yearning for the Lord’s dwelling place (vv. 1-4)
Part Two: The journey towards the Lord’s dwelling place (vv. 5-9)
Part Three: Recognition and affirmation that the Lord’s people are blessed (vv. 10-12)
Notice the connectors. Verses 4 and 5 begin with the same word (“blessed”) and lock the first and second parts together. Pilgrims are blessed because of their destination—where they are traveling. Pilgrims are blessed because of their journey—that they are traveling. Their hearts are set on pilgrimage, and they travel together. Verses 8 and 9 are a sudden outburst of prayer for the Lord’s anointed one who travels along with the pilgrims. This prayer could join with verses 5-7 to show the blessedness of the journey. This prayer also anticipates verses 10-12, which recognize and affirm that the Lord’s people are blessed.
Some divide the psalm into five separate parts: the longing of the pilgrims (vv. 1-4), the journey of the pilgrims (vv. 5-7), prayer (vv. 8-9), praise (vv. 10-11), and a blessing (v. 12). In any case, the trajectory of the psalm is onward and upward, and the tenor is one of optimism. God’s people travel from strength to strength. The wilderness does not overcome them. Rather, they are a traveling oasis in the wilderness. The pilgrims do not complain about their lot in life or join in the ways of earth’s citizens. Instead, they sing pilgrim songs about the dwelling place of the Lord, remind each other how blessed they are, and pitch their tent each day a little closer to home.
When the Grow in Grace team thinks about the pastors of our church body, we give thanks for you and pray for you. Informed by Psalm 84, we pray that you will continue to travel from strength to strength; being strengthened and strengthening others with the assurance that our anointed one, the Lord Jesus Christ, travels with us; and leading God’s people in joyful procession to the dwelling place of the Lord. Thank you, shepherd under Christ, for all that you do to serve and encourage his pilgrim people.