What is so special about God’s dwelling place? I think it has something to do with the sparrow and the swallow. The house of God is not a scary place, a place to be so awe-struck by that we can’t come near. Yes, it’s a holy, holy place.
But the sparrow isn’t afraid. She hops in and out and gathers up material to make her nest in the temple. House sparrows are two a penny, gregarious and noisy. They come where they feel welcomed and safe – and then make a great chattering to all their neighbours, totally wrapped up in their little community.
The swallow, too, swoops in and out, revelling in her freedom and the joy of building her nest inside the temple. A wonderful and safe place to incubate her eggs and feed her chicks. It’s a safe place and a place where her Maker’s presence is felt. The doors won’t suddenly be shut at night so that she is caged in or locked out. Swallows are such joyous birds, such masters of flight and navigation, such acrobats on the wing. And they are sociable birds, chattering as they swoop together, chattering to their partners, chattering to their fledgelings, enjoying their parenthood. And this little swallow also finds her secure nesting spot in the temple.
The psalm goes on to say, ‘Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you’ (Psalm 84:4). Being in God’s presence isn’t just for special occasions! God wants us to dwell close to him, safe and as secure as those little nesting birds. Do I know that I am loved by God and that He longs to welcome me to come close to Him and enjoy the freedom of living deeply secure in His love and protection? That is where He invites us to be – and to dwell securely.
There’s a kind of conundrum in this psalm: When we are living securely in the holy sanctuary of God we are also on pilgrimage! Sometimes we go through really hard times through dry, parched places. But, as we press on, seeking after God, our tears make that valley a place of fruitfulness – and we come deeper and closer into God’s holy Sanctuary.
Prayer: Thank You, God, that You just long for me to come close to know You and know Your safety and protection over me. And You also long for me to set me heart upon coming closer to You every day I live. Amen.
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