The Doorkeeper

In places like New York City, people make a living opening doors for other people. Can you imagine? Posh, expensive apartment buildings employ doormen to assist residents as they come and go. They will also hail cabs, accept deliveries, help with heavy lifting, and welcome you home with a tip of the hat. They provide security for the building and can let you in your apartment if you lock yourself out. There is even a doormen’s union.

You can read more about it here if you are as weirdly fascinated with doormen as I am. There are days when I wish I had one! For some reason, I need to load up my arms with every grocery bag in the car rather than make multiple trips, and then I have to set them all down at the front door just to find my house key.

I often think about these folks when I encounter the 84th psalm. One of my favorite lines from this beautiful psalm is “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.” If you ever lived in a college dorm, you can get on board with that.

The psalmist ushers us into his deep and abiding love for the temple and gives us a taste of his attachment as he expresses his longing to be in God’s dwelling place. I sometimes feel this way about my church. When the pandemic locked us out for months, my desire to be back in the sanctuary was palatable. How about you?

Psalm 84 (New Revised Standard Version)

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
    to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
    my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
    ever singing your praise.Selah

This picture of all-inclusive joy is certainly appealing! Everyone can find a home here, and all who dwell here are happy. By describing God’s earthly home in Jerusalem, the psalmist helps us envision God’s permanent home in eternity. The pilgrims making their way to the temple travel through the sorrowful valleys and nourishing springs, much like the journey we make to our heavenly, permanent home with God.

Happy are those whose strength is in you,
    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca
    they make it a place of springs;
    the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
    the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
    give ear, O God of Jacob!Selah
Behold our shield, O God;
    look on the face of your anointed.

10 For a day in your courts is better
    than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than live in the tents of wickedness.

The Lord is a sun and a shield for all of our earthly journeys, and when we walk in his ways, he will not withhold any good thing from us.

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.

This psalm can bring a measure of comfort to us as we remember that our loved ones who have passed away have simply moved on to celestial apartment buildings with doormen. That helps us to trust in the Lord, who calls us all home someday.

12 O Lord of hosts,
    happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Trusting in God requires that we lay down our need for things like immediate solutions, easy answers, and self-sufficiency. And when we do, we discover the happiness that comes from being in God’s presence.

Where is God calling you to trust him today? God always hears our prayers and gives ear to our problems. You can trust that.

A Non-Unionized Doorman

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