Longing for Fellowship With God
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School
“Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God” (Psalm 84:3).
Birds have caused me to be jealous a few times. A few summers ago, my survey crewchief and I worked in a wooded area. Although the area was small, we had a hard time walking there. We dubbed the area “woodses” because there were really two woods in one. There were the usual vertical woods (which were challenging enough), and there were also many trees which had been cut down and left on the ground. These were the horizontal woods, and they were overgrown by vines and prickers. As we painstakingly made our way through the “woodses,” we noticed the birds had a much easier time than we did moving from one side of the job site to the other.
The Psalmist is also jealous of birds but not because of their ability to fly. He is jealous of the place where some had built their nests.
This jealousy springs from the Psalmist’s deep love for the tabernacles of God. In the courts of the tabernacle, the Psalmist could meet with other worshippers. God was served there publicly, as sacrifices were brought to the priests. God’s servants sought God’s will for them, prayed to Him and were instructed in the way of obedience to His law. It was the place of spiritual fellowship.
The Psalmist’s soul longs for God’s house. This desire for fellowship with God is not a display for men, nor is it a decorative ornament to obtain the notice of men as the Pharisees would do. It is a sincere yearning for God which is found only in the hearts of God’s children.
It appears, however, that the Psalmist has been unable to go to the tabernacle for some time. Bible commentators suppose David to be this Psalm’s author and that Psalm 84 was written during the time when he was forced to leave Jerusalem because of Absalom’s rebellion.
The pain of the Psalmist’s absence from the tabernacle is more acute because he remembers what he had seen there. Near the altar were places where small birds built nests. These birds lived near the altar, a place where the Psalmist could not go because he was not of the tribe of Levi! It seems as if the birds could draw closer to God than he could! He would love to have such close fellowship with God! The birds could also raise and care for their young near God’s altar.
Hope School’s students will sing this Psalm as they begin another school year. What do we parents and grandparents wish for them? Do we want them to learn how to be popular with their peers, how to get ahead in today’s world or how to be current with popular culture so they are not out of touch with society?
As we strive to keep our baptismal vows, we instruct the covenant seed that fellowship with God is what we desire for them. Covenant parents are concerned about the influence of worldliness, especially since the Deceiver now has so many avenues to present his temptations to our children. How can parents possibly guard against all these assaults? Rules are necessary for the orderly functioning of families. Yet making a multitude of rules, laying down the law or standing over children with a stick will only work as long as they are under our roofs. When they go out on their own, will we find their obedience was only external, sullen compliance? None of our efforts, no matter how sincere, will influence their hearts. We can only depend upon our covenant, promise-keeping God to write His law on the hearts of His elect children in Jesus Christ.
Though we confess our inability to plant the seed of regeneration in the hearts of our children, do covenant parents then simply sit to the side of their children’s lives, do little or nothing to instruct them and placidly wait to see what manner of fruit develops?
We instruct them by our example. Our children must see that we love and long for fellowship with God. They must see our dedication to the matters of God’s heavenly kingdom. They must see God ruling our lives through what we read in the Bible. Spirituality and sensitivity to how the Word governs our lives will serve our children better than any set of lengthy guidelines we might develop.
We desire the fellowship of Father’s house. God’s house is our dwelling place when we demonstrate our love for Christ by keeping His commandments and loving our fellow saints. Then we can confess with the Psalmist: “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee” (v. 4). What we desire for our children is that they will live for the praise of their Lord and long for fellowship with Him.
We are thankful that there are those of like faith with whom we can maintain and operate our Christian schools. Public schools have the latest equipment and here in western Michigan they have many new facilities, but how important is fellowship with God there? Too many Christian schools believe their purpose is to win souls for Christ and prepare students to redeem some aspect of society for God. Fellowship with God has become an antiquated notion.
May God use the efforts of our schools to instruct His promised seed in the beauty of a life spent in fellowship with Him.