Psalm 84:10
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) I had rather be a doorkeeper.—Better, I had rather wait on the threshold, as not worthy (LXX. and Vulgate, “be rejected in scorn”) to enter the precincts. The idea of “doorkeeper,” however, though not necessarily involved in the Hebrew word, is suggested in a Korahite psalm, since the Korahites were “keepers of the gates of the tabernacle, and keepers of the entry.” Compare with this wish the words which a Greek poet puts into the mouth of his hero, who sweeps the threshold of Apollo’s temple:

“A pleasant task, O Phoebus, I discharge,

Before thine house in reverence of thy seat

Of prophecy, an honoured task to me.”

EURIPIDES, Ion, 128.

Psalm 84:10. A day in thy courts is better than a thousand — Namely, elsewhere; which is necessary to complete the sense; or, in the tents of wickedness; which may be supplied out of the next clause. Such ellipses are usual in Scripture. “One day spent in meditation and devotion affordeth a pleasure, far, far superior to that which an age of worldly prosperity could give. Happier is the least and lowest of the servants of Jesus than the greatest and most exalted potentate who knoweth him not.” I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God — Which was generally considered as a mean and contemptible office, and belonged to the common Levites, 1 Chronicles 9:19; and 1 Chronicles 26:1, and therefore might seem very dishonourable for David; than to dwell in the tents of wickedness — Than to live in the greatest glory, and plenty, and pleasure; which is often the lot of the wicked, Psalm 17:14; Psalm 73:6-7. “He is no proper judge of blessedness who hesitates a moment to prefer the condition of a penitent in the porch to that of a sinner on the throne. If this be the case upon earth, how much more in heaven! O come that one glorious day, whose sun shall never go down, nor any cloud obscure the lustre of his beams; that day, when the temple of God shall be opened in heaven, and we shall be admitted to serve him for ever therein!” — Horne.84:8-12 In all our addresses to God, we must desire that he would look on Christ, his Anointed One, and accept us for his sake: we must look to Him with faith, and then God will with favour look upon the face of the Anointed: we, without him, dare not show our faces. The psalmist pleads love to God's ordinances. Let us account one day in God's courts better than a thousand spent elsewhere; and deem the meanest place in his service preferable to the highest earthly preferment. We are here in darkness, but if God be our God, he will be to us a Sun, to enlighten and enliven us, to guide and direct us. We are here in danger, but he will be to us a Shield, to secure us from the fiery darts that fly thick about us. Through he has not promised to give riches and dignities, he has promised to give grace and glory to all that seek them in his appointed way. And what is grace, but heaven begun below, in the knowledge, love, and service of God? What is glory, but the completion of this happiness, in being made like to him, and in fully enjoying him for ever? Let it be our care to walk uprightly, and then let us trust God to give us every thing that is good for us. If we cannot go to the house of the Lord, we may go by faith to the Lord of the house; in him we shall be happy, and may be easy. That man is really happy, whatever his outward circumstances may be, who trusts in the Lord of hosts, the God of Jacob.For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand - Better - happier - more profitable - more to be desired - than a thousand days spent elsewhere. That is, I should find more happiness - more true joy - in one day spent in the house of God, in his worship, in the exercises of true religion - more that will be satisfactory to the soul, and that will be dwelt on with pleasure in the memory when life is coming to a close - than I could in a thousand days spent in any other manner. This was much for a man like David - or a man who had been encompassed with all the splendor of royalty - to say; it is much for any man to say. And yet it could be said with truth by him; it can be said with equal truth by others; and when we come to the end of life - to the time when we shall review the past, and ask where we have found most true happiness, most that was satisfactory to the soul, most that we shall delight then to dwell on and to remember, most that we should be glad to have repeated and perpetuated, most that would be free from the remembrance of disappointment, chagrin, and care - it will not be the banqueting hall - the scenes of gaiety - the honors, the praises, the flatteries of people - or even the delights of literature and of the social circle - but it will be the happy times which we shall have spent in communion with God - the times when in the closet we poured out our hearts to Him - when we bowed before him at the family altar, when we approached him in the sanctuary. The sweetest remembrances of life will be the sabbath and the exercises of religion.

I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God - Margin," I would choose rather to sit at the threshold." The verb used here is derived from a noun signifying sill or threshold, and it would seem to mean here to stand on the threshold; to be at the door or the entrance, even without the privilege of entering the house: I would prefer that humble place to a residence within the abodes of the wicked. The verb here used occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures. The exact idea is not, as would seem from our translation, to keep the door, as in the capacity of a sexton or servant, but that of occupying the sill - the threshold - the privilege of standing there, and looking in, even if he was not permitted to enter. It would be an honor and a privilege to be anywhere about the place of public worship, rather than to be the occupant of a dwelling-place of sin.

Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness - The word "tents" here is equivalent to dwellings. It is used because it was so common in early periods to dwell in tents; and hence, the word was employed to denote a dwelling in general. The emphasis here is very much on the word "in:" - he would prefer standing at the door of the house of worship to dwelling within the abodes of the wicked - that is, to being admitted to intimacy with those who occupy such dwellings - however splendid, rich, and gorgeous, those abodes might be.

10. I had … doorkeeper—literally, "I choose to sit on the threshold," the meanest place. A thousand; understand elsewhere; which is necessary to complete the sense: or, in the tents of wickedness; which may be supplied out of the next clause. Such ellipses are usual in Scripture, as Psalm 91:7, at thy side, i.e. left side; Proverbs 19:1, &c.

Door-keeper; which was generally held a mean and contemptible office, and belonged to the common Levites, 1 Chronicles 9:19 26:1, and therefore might seem very dishonourable for David.

Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness; than to live in the greatest glory, and plenty, and pleasure; which is ordinarily the lot of wicked men, as David observed before, Psalm 17:14 73:6,7, and elsewhere. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand,.... "One day"; so the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions; and so the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret it; one day in the house of God, in the world to come, so Arama: though rather reference is had to the seventh day sabbath, then in being; and which with the psalmist was a delight, holy and honourable; and though now abolished, as to the time of it, with the rest of the ceremonial law, there is yet a day of public worship, called the Lord's day, and the day of the Son of man; and one of these days spent in the courts of the Lord, in an attendance on the word and ordinances, in worshipping in the fear of God, in spirit and in truth; in divine service, assisted by the Spirit of God, doing everything in faith, from love, and with a view to the glory of God; a day thus spent in religious exercises "is better than a thousand"; that is, than a thousand days; not than a thousand days spent in like manner, but than a thousand other days, common day, of the week; or than a thousand in other places, especially in places of sin, and in the company of wicked men; one day in God's house employed in spiritual exercises, and enjoying communion with him, is better than a thousand days in any of the houses of Satan, of sinful pleasure, or in the houses of sinful men; better as to peace of mind, solid pleasure, real profit, and true honour:

I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God; in the meanest post and place there; alluding to the Levites, who were some of them porters, and kept the doors of the Lord's house, 1 Chronicles 26:1 or to the beggars that lay at the gates of the temple for alms; see Acts 3:1 or to be fixed to the door post of it, alluding to the servant that was desirous of continuing in his master's house, and serving him for ever; who was brought to the door post, and had his ears bored through with an awl, Exodus 21:5. Such a willing servant was the psalmist; and this sense the Targum seems to incline to, which renders it,

"I have chose to cleave to the house of the sanctuary of God;''

or to be a waiter there, to watch daily at Wisdom's gates, and to wait at the posts of her doors; such lie in the way of conversion, and of finding Christ; in the way of spiritual healing, as the man at the pool; and of spiritual instruction, and of spiritual strength, and an increase of it: or to be, or sit, upon the threshold; or to be "thresholding" (i) of it; that is, to frequent the house of God, to be often going over the threshold of it; this the psalmist took delight to do, even to be the threshold (k) itself, for men to tread upon as they go into the house of God:

than to dwell in the tents of wickedness; meaning not houses built by wicked men, or with money ill got; but where wicked men dwelt, and who were so bad as to be called wickedness itself; perhaps the psalmist might have in his mind the tents of Kedar, where he had sometimes been; see Psalm 120:5, now to live in the meanest place in the house of God, to wait at the door as a porter, to lie there as a beggar, to sit upon the threshold, and much more to go often over it, or be that itself, was abundantly preferable than to dwell "an age" (l) in the house of princes and great men, being wicked; than to live in the most pompous manner, at ease and in plenty, enjoying all the good things of life that heart can wish for; one hour's communion with God in his house is better than all this, and that for the reason following.

(i) "esse in limine", Pagninus, Montanus; "ad limen esse", Musculus; "desidere ad limen", Tigurine version, Vatablus, so Ainsworth; "frequentare limen", Junius & Tremellius; "commorari limen", Piscator; "ad limen stare", Gejerus, Michaelis. (k) Gusset. Ebr. Comment. p. 565. (l) "quam aetatem agere", Piscator; "vel aetatem omnem agere", Gejerus, Michaelis.

For {h} a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

(h) He would rather live one day in God's Church than a thousand in the world.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. For a day &c.] The connexion of thought is obscure. For apparently introduces a reason for the foregoing prayer. A ‘good day,’ i.e. a day of festivity and rejoicing, was regarded as a propitious occasion for preferring requests (1 Samuel 25:8). A day spent in Jehovah’s courts was better than a thousand others, and therefore the most opportune occasion for this prayer. Some commentators connect this verse with Psalm 84:1-7, taking Psalm 84:8-9 as parenthetical, and regard it as giving the reason for the desire to enter the Temple which is the dominant idea of the Psalm. But neither of these explanations is quite satisfactory, and the difficulty disappears if we render, Surely a day &c. After offering the prayer of Psalm 84:9 the Psalmist returns to the thought which inspires his song, the blessedness of approach to God in His house.

One day’ (P.B.V.) comes from the LXX through the Vulg.

I had rather be a doorkeeper] Lit., be at the threshold. Delitzsch thinks that this is an allusion to the office of the Korahites as “keepers of the thresholds of the tent” (1 Chronicles 9:19). If so, the reference must be to some subordinate position, and not to the distinguished office of “keeper of the threshold” (2 Kings 22:4; 2 Kings 25:18); for the sense clearly is, ‘I had rather perform the humblest service at the temple of Him who tolerates no evil (Psalm 5:4) than be entertained as a guest where wickedness makes its home.’ But the meaning may simply be, I had rather stand, or, lie, at the threshold, wait humbly at the gate as a suppliant. Cp. LXX, παραριπτεῖσθαι, Vulg. abiectus esse.

The tents of wickedness probably refers to the heathen neighbours of whose scoffing this Psalmist had had such a bitter experience (Psalm 42:3; Psalm 42:10). Cp. Psalm 120:5.Verse 10. - For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand; i.e. than any number of days elsewhere. It is difficult to trace any connection between these concluding verses. They appear to consist of distinct thoughts, which arise in the writer's mind, and are jotted down as they occur to him. One is a thought of loyalty, which finds vent in a prayer for the king (ver. 9). Another is a reflection of the main thought of the psalm, the incomparable blessedness of dwelling in God's house. A third (vers. 11, 12) is the joy and glory of perpetual communion with God and trust in God. See the remarks of Professor Cheyne ('The Book of Psalms,' p. 237). I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God; literally, at the threshold; but the meaning is well expressed by the Authorized Version. "Doorkeepers in the house of their God" was exactly what the Korahite Levites were (1 Chronicles 9:19; 1 Chronicles 26:1, 12-19). Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. As their ancestor, Korah, had done (Numbers 16:26). How loved and lovely (ידידות) is the sacred dwelling-place (plur. as in Psalm 43:3) of the all-commanding, redemptive God, viz., His dwelling-place here below upon Zion! Thither the poet is drawn by the deeply inward yearning of love, which makes him pale (נכסף from כּסף, to grow pale, Psalm 17:12) and consumes him (כּלה as in Job 19:27). His heart and flesh joyfully salute the living God dwelling there, who, as a never-failing spring, quenches the thirst of the soul (Psalm 42:3); the joy that he feels when he throws himself back in spirit into the long-denied delight takes possession even of his bodily nature, the bitter-sweet pain of longing completely fills him (Psalm 63:2). The mention of the "courts" (with the exception of the Davidic Psalm 65:5, occurring only in the anonymous Psalms) does not preclude the reference of the Psalm to the tent-temple on Zion. The Tabernacle certainly had only one חצר; the arrangement of the Davidic tent-temple, however, is indeed unknown to us, and, according to reliable traces,

(Note: Vid., Knobel on Exodus, S. 253-257, especially S. 255.)

it may be well assumed that it was more gorgeous and more spacious than the old Tabernacle which remained in Gibeon. In Psalm 84:4 the preference must be given to that explanation which makes את־מזבּחותיך dependent upon מצאה, without being obliged to supply an intermediate thought like בּית (with hardening Dagesh like בּן, Genesis 19:38, vid., the rule at Psalm 52:5) and קן as a more definite statement of the object which the poet has in view. The altars, therefore, or (what this is meant to say without any need for taking את as a preposition) the realm, province of the altars of Jahve - this is the house, this the nest which sparrow and swallow have found for themselves and their young. The poet thereby only indirectly says, that birds have built themselves nests on the Temple-house, without giving any occasion for the discussion whether this has taken place in reality. By the bird that has found a comfortable snug home on the place of the altars of Jahve in the Temple-court and in the Temple-house, he means himself. צפּור (from צפר) is a general name for whistling, twittering birds, like the finch

(Note: Vid., Tobler, Denkbltter aus Jerusalem, 1853, S. 117.)

and the sparrow, just as the lxx here renders it. דּרור is not the turtle-dove (lxx, Targum, and Syriac), but the swallow, which is frequently called even in the Talmud צפור דרור ( equals סנוּנית), and appears to take its name from its straightforward darting, as it were, radiating flight (cf. Arabic jadurru of the horse: it darts straight forward). Saadia renders dûrı̂je, which is the name of the sparrow in Palestine and Syria (vid., Wetzstein's Excursus I). After the poet has said that his whole longing goes forth towards the sanctuary, he adds that it could not possibly be otherwise (גּם standing at the head of the clause and belonging to the whole sentence, as e.g., in Isaiah 30:33; Ewald, 352, b): he, the sparrow, the swallow, has found a house, a nest, viz., the altars of Jahve of Hosts, his King and his God (Psalm 44:5; Psalm 45:7), who gloriously and inaccessibly protects him, and to whom he unites himself with most heartfelt and believing love. The addition "where (אשׁר as in Psalm 95:9; Numbers 20:13) she layeth her young," is not without its significance. One is here reminded of the fact, that at the time of the second Temple the sons of the priests were called פּרחי כהנּה, and the Levite poet means himself together with his family; God's altars secure to them shelter and sustenance. How happy, blessed, therefore, are those who enjoy this good fortune, which he now longs for again with pain in a strange country, viz., to be able to make his home in the house of such an adorable and gracious God! עוד here signifies, not "constantly" (Genesis 46:29), for which תּמיד would have been used, but "yet," as in Psalm 42:6. The relation of Psalm 84:5 to Psalm 84:5 is therefore like Psalm 41:2. The present is dark, but it will come to pass even yet that the inmates of God's house (οἰκεῖοι τοῦ Θεοῦ, Ephesians 2:10) will praise Him as their Helper. The music here strikes in, anticipating this praise.

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