Psalm 84

  • Nov. 27, 2006
  • #6411

Joni shares about the passage from Psalms that she read at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

Oh, how I remember the time when Ken and I visited the western wall of the old temple in Jerusalem. It was during a visit to Israel and as you know, up until recently, the western wall was completely inaccessible; but since the war, the Wailing Wall, as it's called, has been made open to the public, especially to the Jews who come to the wall and pray. The largest part of the wall is open to men and as long as you have your head covered, you are welcomed to come and pray at the wall; women are allowed to touch the wall at the far end in a much smaller space.

Anyway, I'm there with my girlfriends leaning against the wall and we're reading scripture and praying. And my cheek is on the cold stones but all of a sudden I hear birds above me, and I looked up and there, jutting out from one of the crevices between the huge blocks of stone in that Wailing Wall, is a small shrub. What's more, there are a couple of sparrows sitting on the bush and they're just singing in full song. It was so beautiful and immediately I was reminded of Psalm 84. In fact, we stopped and quickly flipped to the page and read out loud right there at the temple wall beneath the sparrows, we read the words of David. He wrote:

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young – a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God."

Was that an appropriate verse or what? There we were reciting the words of David looking at those walls he cherished and spotting, no doubt, the ancestors of those same little birds. 

There's nothing like being close to the altar of the Almighty, being near to the heart of God. Before we left, we hurriedly scrawled the mission statement of Joni and Friends on a little card and stuck it in one of the cracks of the Wall. Then, as tradition dictated, we backed away from the wall, keeping our face toward it the whole time. For me, it meant putting my wheelchair in reverse and backing away without running over anyone behind me. The Jews do this out of respect and fear of the Lord and I think it was rather a good custom to honor we sure can't turn our back on God.

And I will never turn my back on the reminder those sparrows afforded me that day. May I always, may we always stay close to the altar of the Almighty. That's the cross of Jesus Christ. May all of us as we head in to the Christmas season, may we stay near the cross, nearer to the altar, the heart of God.

© Joni and Friends

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