The psalmist alternates between fear and faith. In the midst of his praise, he makes one request of God: that he may live in the “house of the Lord” forever. We can relate to this desire to experience God’s presence and peace. Only in God’s presence will we know joy and abundant life.
Soon after graduating from high school, I entered one of our country’s service academies. Throughout my growing-up years my parents assured me of their love daily. That was not the case at the academy. In fact, I experienced the opposite. I heard few words of affirmation and certainly no words of love. I felt miserable; I lived with a constant knot in my stomach. That is, except for one hour each week when I attended worship in the chapel on campus. Oh, the euphoria of being in that space! I don’t remember the order of worship or the music or any sermons, but I vividly remember the joy of being in the “house of the Lord,“ a time and place that relieved my anxiety, reassured my confidence in God’s continued presence with me.
I, like the psalmist, experienced the stark contrast between my world outside of God’s house and the peace of being in God’s presence. Is it possible that we can praise God even more when armies surround us, when the troubles of our lives weigh us down? We certainly don’t seek those troubles, but they do come. In those times in our lives, we need more than ever to enter into the house of the Lord, to experience the joy of being in the presence of God, our light and our salvation.
God of peace and joy, may we feel your presence when we enter your house. Amen.