Psalm 84:9
Behold, O God our shield, and look on the face of your anointed.
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(9) Shield . . . . anointed.—These are here in direct parallelism. So in Psalm 89:18. (See Note, and comp. Psalm 47:9, Note.)

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.Behold, O God our shield - Our defense, as a shield is a defense in the day of battle. Compare Psalm 5:12, note; Psalm 18:2, note; Psalm 33:20, note. It is an appeal to God as a protector. The psalmist was an exile - a wanderer - and he looked to God as his defense.

And look upon the face of thine anointed - Look favorably upon; look with benignity and kindness. The word anointed here is the word "Messiah" - משׁיח mâshı̂yach (Greek, Χριστός Christos, "Christ"; see the notes at Matthew 1:1). Compare the notes at Psalm 2:2. It here refers, however, evidently to the author of the psalm; and the word used is evidence that the author was David, as the anointed of the Lord, or someone set apart to the kingly office. It is true that this word was applicable to other kings, and also to priests and prophets, but the circumstances in the case concur best on the supposition that David is referred to. The allusion here is not to Christ; and the language does not suggest or justify the use which is often made of it when prayer is offered, that "God would look upon us in the face of his anointed" - whatever may, or may not be, the propriety of that prayer on other, grounds.

9. God is addressed as a shield (compare Ps 84:11).

thine anointed—David (1Sa 16:12).

9 Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.

10 For 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.

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

Psalm 84:9

"Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed." Here we have the nation's prayer for David; and the believer's prayer for the Son of David. Let but the Lord look upon our Lord Jesus, and we shall be shielded from all harm; let him behold the face of his Anointed, and we shall be able to behold his face with joy. We also are anointed by the Lord's grace, and our desire is that he will look upon us with an eye of love in Christ Jesus. Our best prayers when we are in the best place are for our glorious King, and for the enjoyment of his Father's smile.

Psalm 84:10

"For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand." Of course the Psalmist means a thousand days spent elsewhere. Under the most favourable circumstances in which earth's pleasures can be enjoyed, they are not comparable by so much as one in a thousand to the delights of the service of God. To feel his love, to rejoice in the person of the anointed Saviour, to survey the promises and feel the power of the Holy Ghost in applying precious truth to the soul, is a joy which worldlings cannot understand, but which true believers are ravished with. Even a glimpse at the love of God is better than ages spent in the pleasures of sense. "I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." The lowest station in connection with the Lord's house is better than the highest position among the godless. Only to wait at his threshold and peep within, so as to see Jesus, is bliss. To bear burdens and open doors for the Lord is more honour than to reign among the wicked. Every man has his choice, and this is ours. God's worst is better than the devil's best. God's doorstep is a happier rest than downy couches within the pavilions of royal sinners, though we might lie there for a lifetime of luxury. Note how he calls the tabernacle "the house of my God;" there's where the sweetness lies: if Jehovah be our God, his house, his altars, his doorstep, all become precious to us. We know by experience that where Jesus is within, the outside of the house is better than the noblest chambers where the Son of God is not to be found.

Psalm 84:11

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield." Pilgrims need both as the weather may be, for the cold would smite them were it not for the sun, and foes are apt to waylay the sacred caravan, and would haply destroy it if it were without a shield. Heavenly pilgrims are not left uncomforted or unprotected. The pilgrim nation found both sun and shield in that fiery cloudy pillar which was the symbol of Jehovah's presence, and the Christian still finds both light and shelter in the Lord his God. A sun for happy days and a shield for dangerous ones. A sun above, a shield around. A light to show the way and a shield to ward off its perils. Blessed are they who journey with such a convoy; the sunny and the shady side of life are alike happy to them. "The Lord will give grace and glory." Both in due time, both as needed, both to the full, both with absolute certainty. The Lord has both grace and glory in infinite abundance; Jesus is the fulness of both, and, as his chosen people, we shall receive both as a free gift from the God of our salvation. What more can the Lord give, or we receive, or desire. "No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." Grace makes us walk uprightly and this secures every covenant blessing to us. What a wide promise! Some apparent good may be withheld, but no real good, no, not one. "All things are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." God has all good, there is no good apart from him, and there is no good which he either needs to keep back or will on any account refuse us, if we are but ready to receive it. We must be upright and neither lean to this or that form of evil: and this uprightness must be practical, - we must walk in truth and holiness, then shall we be heirs of all things, and as we come of age all things shall be in our actual possession; and, meanwhile, according to our capacity for receiving shall be the measure of the divine bestowal. This is true, not of a favoured few but of all the saints for evermore.

Psalm 84:12

"O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee." Here is the key of the Psalm. The worship is that of faith, and the blessedness is peculiar to believers. No formal worshipper can enter into this secret. A man must know the Lord by the life of real faith, or he can have no true rejoicing in the Lord's worship, his house, his Son, or his ways. Dear reader, how fares it with thy soul?

Look upon the face; do not turn away thine eyes from him, as men do from those whom they hate or despise, but cast a favourable eye towards him. By face he means either his person, the word face being oft redundant, as it is Genesis 43:3, or his state and condition.

Of thine anointed: either,

1. Of Christ, whose proper name is the Messiah, or the Anointed. So the meaning may be, Lord, I deserve not one good look from thee, because by my great wickedness I have procured thy just displeasure, and this banishment; but look upon thy Christ, whose coming and meritorious passion, though future to us, is present to thee, and for his sake look upon me. Or,

2. Of me, who, though a vile sinner, am thine anointed king, 2 Samuel 12:7 23:1. Behold, O God our shield,.... Which may be considered either as the character of God, who is addressed, who was David's shield, and the shield of his people, to protect and defend them from their enemies, and is the shield of all the saints; this favour encompasses them as a shield, and his truth is their shield and buckler; his veracity and faithfulness, in keeping covenant and promises; and so is his power, by which they are kept unto salvation; see Psalm 3:3, or else it belongs to other persons and things the psalmist desires God would behold, in agreement with the following clause. Jarchi interprets it of the house of the sanctuary, as a shield unto them; much better Aben Ezra of the king their protector; and makes the sense of the petition to be, that God would save our king; it is best to apply it to Christ, afterwards called a sun and shield; see on Psalm 84:11, and to whom the following clause belongs:

and look upon the face of thine anointed; meaning either himself, David, the anointed of the God of Jacob, who was anointed with oil, in a literal sense, king of Israel, by the appointment and order of the Lord himself; and his request is, that God would look upon his outward state and condition, which was a distressed and an afflicted one, with an eye of pity and compassion, he being deprived of sanctuary worship and service, and of the presence of God there; see Psalm 132:1 or rather he has a view to the Messiah, the Lord's Christ, or Anointed, the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King, anointed with the oil of gladness, the grace of the Spirit, without measure; and so the sense is, that though he and his petitions were unworthy of notice, yet he entreats that God would look upon his Son the Messiah, and for his sake hear and answer him; look upon his person, and accept him in him, the Beloved; upon his future obedience and righteousness, and impute it to him; upon his sufferings, and death he was to endure, to save him from his sins; upon his blood to be shed for the remission of them, as he had looked upon the blood of the passover, upon the doorposts of the Israelites, and saved them when he destroyed the firstborn of Egypt; and upon his sacrifice, which is of a sweet smelling savour; and upon his fulness, for the supply of his wants. Kimchi takes it to be a prayer for the speedy coming of the Messiah.

Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine {g} anointed.

(g) That is, for Christ's sake, whose figure I represent.

9. The Psalmist’s prayer for favourable audience in Psalm 84:8 is succeeded, after a musical interlude (selah), by a prayer offered by all the pilgrims together. Contrast ‘our shield’ with ‘my prayer’ (Psalm 84:8), and the singular which recurs in Psalm 84:10.

The first line admits of two renderings. (1) As in the A.V., ‘our shield’ may be taken as a vocative in apposition to God, Who is styled a shield in Psalm 84:11, and frequently elsewhere, e.g. Psalm 3:3; Psalm 28:7; Psalm 59:11; Genesis 15:1. (2) As in R.V. marg., Behold our shield, O God, ‘our shield’ may be taken as the object of the verb, in parallelism with and referring to ‘thine anointed’ in the next line. This rendering is commended by the parallelism, and not excluded by the order of the words in the original: the king is styled ‘our shield’ in Psalm 89:18 (R.V.), and there is nothing unnatural in the application in the same context of the same epithet to the king and to God, Whose representative the king was acknowledged to be.

look upon the face of thine anointed] Graciously accept him. But who is meant by thine anointed? Is it the king, the high-priest, or the people? Those who maintain that the Psalm is post-exilic suppose that the high-priest or the people is thus designated. But though the high-priest is called the anointed priest (Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:5; Leviticus 4:16; Leviticus 6:22), he is never called the anointed of Jehovah: and it is very doubtful whether this title is ever applied to the people. Psalm 89:38 and Habakkuk 3:13 are quoted, but do not establish the usage. The most natural explanation is that the king is meant. Nor is the prayer out of place. The welfare of the nation was bound up with the welfare of the king. And if the king was one who like Hezekiah or Josiah had effected a great reformation, the Psalmist might well feel that the religious privileges which he prized depended upon the continuance of the king’s life. It certainly cannot be inferred from the words that the Psalmist was himself a king, but rather the reverse.

9–12. The pilgrims’ prayer, and the ground of their confidence.Verse 9. - Behold, O God our Shield; i.e. ' 'our Protection and Defense" (comp. Psalm 33:20; Psalm 59:11; Psalm 89:18). And look upon the face of thine anointed. Regard our Mug with favour; let the light of thy countenance shine upon him. 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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