Psalm 150:1
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in His sanctuary: praise Him in the firmament of His power.”

Somehow I got roped into teaching a 4-week children’s class on music. I’ll actually be teaching only the first 2 weeks, but those weeks will lay the foundation for the rest of the class. It promises to be a very “stretching” experience for me =) The theme for the course is Psalm 150.

As I began reading the psalm to plan for the class, the word “sanctuary” stood out to me. To be honest, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “sanctuary” isn’t a church auditorium but some fugitive calling out theatrically “I demand sanctuary!” So I decided I had better look up the word to see if these two concepts truly are connected.

Thanks to http://www.blueletterbible.com, http://www.etymonline.com, and Jason’s AJAX program, I had my answer. The Hebrew and Greek words translated “sanctuary” mean something set apart and separated for God. They have also been translated “dedicated” and “holy”; in fact, the Greek word for “sanctuary” is a form of the word usually translated “holy.” In the Old Testament, the sanctuary was in the temple or tabernacle, the place where people came to meet with God. But in the New Testament, the church and the individual human heart become God’s dwelling place. God’s presence resides in us and with us at all times.

But how did it come to mean a place of safety? In medieval times, the church became a place of safety. No fighting was to take place in it, and fugitives from the law could claim its protection if being pursued by the law. I suppose it was the same idea as the cities of refuge that were established in the land of Israel, often places that had large communities of Levites (the tribe chosen by God as His servants to minister in the temple).As I was pondering the concept of finding sanctuary in God’s house, Psalm 84:3 came to mind.

Psalm 84:3
“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.”

Thinking of the sparrows and swallows nesting on the awesome and terrible altars of the sacred temple creates a funny mental picture for me. How could they dare such a thing? Seems almost too . . . common? The next verse in the psalm says that those who dwell in God’s house will praise God continually (“still be praising” uses a verb tense that means a repeated continual action). So, God’s house is a place which, although awe-inspiring in its sacredness and separateness, is still a place of refuge for even small, weak, and oblivious creatures–creatures who have no sense of propriety. They really don’t know any better than to build their homes inside God’s temple. And He welcomes them! No wonder they praise Him!

God, for some reason, I’m having trouble dwelling in Your house. I’m trying to bear things on my own that I shouldn’t try to bear alone but still feel obligated to carry. Only You can make my heart fit to be Your sanctuary. I desperately need to find my way home. Home! Help me make my home in You as You make Yours in me.

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