Blessed are they that dwell in your house: they will be still praising you. Selah.
It is early morning. A party of pilgrims are drawing nigh to the Holy City. They have come from afar to pay their vows in the house of the Lord. They catch sight of the golden sheen from the eastern front of the Temple as it flashes in the morning light, and break out into song. "O how lovely are Thy dwellings, O Lord of hosts." But as the pilgrim still toils on his way and climbs the long ascent, hot, wearied, travel-stained, his throat choked with the sands of the desert, his tongue parched with thirst, he cannot help contrasting his position with that of the fortunate servants of the Temple. There they are constantly and without effort where he can be but once or twice in his life, and then only at great sacrifice of time, energy, comfort. It takes him days of wearisome and exhausting travel to come and pay his vows, while the priest, and even the doorkeeper have nothing to do but to tumble out of bed at the last minute and they are on the spoil He can only stay amid these delightful scenes a few days at the most, and must then return to the tents of wickedness, where it is so hard to keep a conscience void of offence. The Temple servants, on the other hand, can hardly fail to be good. They dwell always in the gracious and heavenly atmosphere of the Temple courts, and continually engage in sanctifying and delightful duties. How enviable their lot! "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house, they are constantly praising Thee." The priest, the Levite, and the doorkeeper are at their customary duty. The pilgrim song strikes on their car. They cannot help pausing a moment. How fresh and sincere it sounds! What genuine and holy passion! "My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord." And now again that note of exaltation and rapture, "My King and my God!" The old doorkeeper looks at the aged priest. They are both in their fortieth year of service. They have never departed from the Temple, each engaged in his same round of duties all the time. They read and share each other's thoughts. "Ah!" sighs the priest, "for the pilgrim's experience! He is visiting the holy spot, not because he has to be here, but because he has a strong desire to come. What adventures he has had on the way! What perils confronted and difficulties surmounted! And now he is here, and sees everything for the first time. All is fresh, full of novelty and interest, reality and zest. I, poor wight, have been doing these same duties for forty years! And I am bound to fulfil them, whether in the mood or not. It is long enough since I had a new idea, or felt the breath of a fresh inspiration. Behold what a weariness in the monotonous reiteration of even holy duty! Would I could change places with these pilgrims!" "Blessed is the man who finds such strength in Thee, who has it in his heart to make a pilgrimage to Zion." So it is all the world over, in religious and in daily life! We see the desirable things of the lot of another and the hardships of our own. "To this side of the river," says the Hindu proverb, "that side looks green." But cross the river and see! Have you not in walking along a street after a heavy shower of rain often noticed that the other side was far drier than the puddly pavement you were treading? So to avoid walking in the water you have crossed the road, but your feet got wet nevertheless! Many a young Christian, harassed and tempted at his daily work, thinks how fine it must be to be a minister. Well, so it is. But the position must not be judged by the parade day. It might be a good thing for him to be a minister just for one week. Lots are more equally divided than we think, and it is well that we should be initiated into the secret of St. Paul, who had learnt in whatsoever state he was therein to be content. For we may be well assured that if we are not content in our own lot we never should be in that of any one else. From the opinion of others we may learn some of the advantages our own calling possesses. The pilgrim tells the Temple servant for what he envies him, the Temple servant can show the pilgrim the compensation of his position. And the wise-hearted will heed the criticism. The sage bids us not to leave the ills we have to fly to those we know not of. The pilgrim must see the grand compensation of his lot. He cannot always be engaged offering the sacrifices of the sanctuary. But let him remember that life's redeeming and renewing ministry is not confined to the hours or places of worship. "Look," says the priest, surveying the wilderness which the pilgrim has sorrowfully trodden; "passing through the valley of weeping they make it a place of springs." In the wilderness of the world, through which God's people pass as strangers and pilgrims, their struggles are sacrificial, their tears life-giving. They wander in the wilderness in a desert way, hungry and thirsty, their souls faint in them, but as they go through it they turn the wilderness into a pool of water and the dry land into a spring of water. All that come after them bless God for the sighs and tears, the struggles and pains of those that went before, for they find that the desert has rejoiced and blossoms as the rose. You bewail the wickedness of your generation or the neighbourhood in which you live, or the business place you work in. You sigh and say, Woe is me that I dwell in the tents of wickedness; I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord. Already you are a doorkeeper of the house of the Lord. If ever the people among whom your lot is east are to hear of Christ and see the Kingdom of Heaven opened, it is by your witness and Christly ministry among them. Christ is the Door, and, if I may so say, you are the Door-keeper. That is your privilege, your great opportunity. You may be the only one on the pilgrimage in your neighbourhood, or family, or place of business. But you will not long be. For as you pass oh your way your cheery courage, your prayers, your sorrows and struggles shall, by God's grace, avail to change the face of the dark spot in the midst of which He has placed you and to make the wilderness into a fruitful field.
(F. L. Wiseman.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.