Verse 1. - How amiable are thy tabernacles! or, "how lovely are thy dwellings!!" The plural is used, as in Psalm 43:3; Psalm 46:4 (also Korahite); and Psalms 132:7, either because the temple was made up of several compartments, or as a "plural of dignity." O Lord of hosts (comp. vers. 3, 8, 12).
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
Verse 2. - My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord. These expressions do not imply that the writer is absent from the temple, but only that his delight in it is never satiated. My heart and my flesh; i.e. my whole nature. Crieth out for the living God; rather, rejoiceth; or "sings out a note of joy" unto the living God. So Hengstenberg, who says, "The verb רִנֵּן is of frequent occurrence in the Psalms, and always signifies to rejoice." Compare the comment of Professor Cheyne.
Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.
Verse 3. - Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young. Both sparrows and swallows abound in Palestine. Canon Tristram found the nest of a sparrow "so closely allied to our own that it is difficult to distinguish it," in a chink of the Haram wall at Jerusalem, near the Golden Gate ('Land of Israel,' p. 182). An anecdote related by Herodotus (1, 159) shows that sparrows built about the Greek temples. The general meaning of the figure in this place seems to be, "If even birds love to build their nests, as they do, in the sacred precincts, how much more reason has the believing heart to find its home in the house of its God!" But the psalmist thinks it enough to suggest the parallel, and does not stop to carry it out. Even thine altars. The "altar" is put, by metonymy, for the temple itself. O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God (comp. Psalm 5:2).
Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.
Verse 4. - Blessed are they that dwell in thy house. As the Korahite Levites did, being "keepers of the gates" of the Lord's house (1 Chronicles 9:19; 1 Chronicles 26:1). They will be still praising thee. It is their privilege to be always praising thee. "The speaker regards the temple as predominantly the house of praise" (Cheyne).
Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.
Verse 5. - Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee. God is the "Strength" of all who trust in him. The psalmist seems to mean that mere dwelling in the house of God is not enough for blessedness. Trust in God - having God for one's Strength - is also requisite (comp. ver. 12). In whose heart are the ways of them; literally, in whose heart are highways. The "highways" intended are probably those of holiness (comp. Proverbs 16:17 and Isaiah 35:8).
Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.
Verse 6. - Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a wall; rather, through the valley of weeping (τὴν κοιλάδα τοῦ κλαυθμῶνος, LXX.). So Hupfeld. Hengstenberg, Kay, and the Revised Version; compare Hosea's "valley of Achor," i.e. "of Grief." When the righteous pass through a time of suffering or calamity, they turn it into a time of refreshment. The rain also filleth the pools; rather, the early rain (Joel 2:23) covereth it with blessings. The rain of God's grace mantles all the valley with a luxuriant vegetation; in other words, the blessing of God rests on those who act as above described, and causes them ever to increase in righteousness and true holiness.
They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.
Verse 7. - They go from strength to strength. Their spiritual course is one of continually greater vitality and vigour. Every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. Either "Each in his turn appears to render thanks and praise before God's holy seat on Mount Zion;" or "Each in his turn shall appear before God's throne in the true Zion, heaven."
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.
Verse 8. - O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer. The prayer of ver. 9. Give ear, O God of Jacob (comp. Psalm 20:1; Psalm 46:7, 11; Psalm 75:9; Psalm 76:6; Psalm 81:1, 4, etc.).
Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Verse 11. - For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; i.e. not only a "Shield" or protection, as he has been already called (ver. 9), but also a "Sun," the source of life and light, of joy and happiness (comp. Isaiah 60:19, 20; Malachi 4:2). The Lord will give grace and glory. Inward grace, outward splendour and glory (Revelation 21:11-24). No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly (see 1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 Timothy 4:8; and Psalm 34:10).
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.
Verse 12. - O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee (comp. Psalm 2:12).