For a day in your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God…
Literally, "I would rather lie on the threshold," rather fill the lowest place and execute the meanest office in God's house, than be the greatest and happiest of those found elsewhere. We sometimes say, "I have only a little religion, but I would not part with it for all the world"; and that is substantially what David says here. The meanest living member of the Church of God is greater than the most honourable outside.
1. The least of saints is superior to the world's greatest men. The doorkeeper represents the least glorious and least powerful member of the spiritual congregation; but even he is more influential than the richest and greatest of the children of ungodliness. The ultimate power in the universe is the power of righteous mind, the power of righteous character; and he who possesses these in the most modest degree is mysteriously noble and efficient.
2. The least of saints is superior to the world's happiest men. The position of the doorkeeper on the threshold is the least desirable of all positions in the spiritual kingdom. He has the faintest glimpse of the temple glories, hears the least of its music, tastes little of its delicacies; yet the psalmist in effect says, "I would rather be the saddest of the saints than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." And we feel that his judgment was just. Communion with God, however faint, faith in the promises, however feeble, a sense of infinite truth and love, however dull, and a glimpse of heaven, however dim, give us a satisfaction beyond all gratifications of time and sense.
3. The briefest life of goodness is better than the longest life of worldliness: "One day in Thy courts is better than a thousand" elsewhere. A life of worldliness and sin properly speaking is not life at all. When Lizio, an Italian, was told of the death of his dissipated son, he replied, "It is no news to me; he never was alive." A life destitute of the spiritual element is not truly life. To live is to feel the spirit in contact with God, to be filled with His light, to be thrilled with His joy, to be warmed by His love, to be satisfied with His likeness. This is life, and the youngest believer in Christ knows more of the quality and fulness of existence than does the voluptuous patriarch.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.