Verse 10. For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. Of course the psalmist means a thousand days spent elsewhere. Under the most favourable circumstances in which earth's pleasures can be enjoyed, they are not comparable by so much as one in a thousand to the delights of the service of God. To feel his love, to rejoice in the person of the anointed Saviour, to survey the promises and feel the power of the Holy Ghost in applying precious truth to the soul, is a joy which worldlings cannot understand, but which true believers are ravished with. Even a glimpse at the love of God is better than ages spent in the pleasures of sense.
I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. The lowest station in connection with the Lord's house is better than the highest position among the godless. Only to wait at his threshold and peep within, so as to see Jesus, is bliss. To bear burdens and open doors for the Lord is more honour than to reign among the wicked. Every man has his choice, and this is ours. God's worst is better than the devil's best. God's doorstep is a happier rest than downy couches within the pavilions of royal sinners, though we might lie there for a lifetime of luxury. Note how he calls the tabernacle the house of my God; there's where the sweetness lies: if Jehovah be our God, his house, his altars, his doorstep, all become precious to us. We know by experience that where Jesus is within, the outside of the house is better than the noblest chambers where the Son of God is not to be found.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 10. A day. The least good look that a man hath from God, and the least good word that a man hears from God, and the least love letter and love token that a man receives from God is exceedingly precious to that man that hath God for his portion. One day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. He doth not say, One year in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere, but One day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere; nor doth he say, One quarter of a year in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere, but One day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere; nor doth he say, One month is better than a thousand elsewhere, but One day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere, to shew that the very least of God is exceeding precious to a gracious soul that hath God for his portion. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 10. Another sign of God's children is, to delight to be much in God's presence. Children are to be in the presence of their father; where the King is, there is the court; where the presence of God is, there is heaven. God is in a special manner present in his ordinances, they are the Ark of his presence. Now, if we are his children, we love to be much in holy duties. In the use of ordinances we draw near to God, we come into our Father's presence; in prayer we have secret conference with God; the soul while it is praying, is as it were parleying with God. In the word we hear God speaking from heaven to us; and how doth every child of God delight to hear his Father's voice! In the sacrament God kisseth his children with the kisses of his lips; he gives them a smile of his face, and a privy seal of his love: oh, it is good to draw near to God. It is sweet being in his presence: every true child of God saith, "A day in thy courts is better than a thousand!" Thomas Watson.
Verse 10. I had rather be a doorkeeper, etc. Some read it, "I would rather be fixed to a post in the house of my God, than live at liberty in the tents of the wicked;" alluding to the law concerning servants, who if they would not go out free, were to have their ear bored to the door post, Exodus 21:5-6 . David loved his Master, and loved his work so well, that he desired to be tied to this service for ever, to be more free to it, but never to go out free from it, preferring bonds to duty far before the greatest liberty to sin. Such a superlative delight have holy hearts in holy duties; no satisfaction in their account is comparable to that in communion with God. Matthew Henry.
Verse 10. I had rather be a doorkeeper. In the sense that Christ is a Door, David may well be content to be a Door Keeper, and though in God's house there be many mansions, yet seeing all of them are glorious, even the door keeper's place is not without its glory. But if you think the office to be mean, consider then whose officer he is, for even a door keeper is an officer in God's house, and God never displaceth his officers unless it be to advance them to a higher; whereas, in the courts of princes, the greatest officers are oftentimes displaced, turned off often with disgrace. Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 10. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, etc. Happy are those persons, whom God will use as besoms to sweep out the dust from his temple; or who shall tug at an oar in the boat where Christ and his church are embarked. William Secker, in "The Nonsuch Professor."
Verse 10. Doorkeeper. This is a Korhite psalm, and the descendants of Korah were, in fact, porters, and "keepers of the gates of the tabernacle, and keepers of the entry," as well as being permitted to swell the chorus of the inspired singers of Israel. Bossuet, quoted by Neale and Littledale.
Verse 10. Instead of, I had rather be a doorkeeper, the margin has, according to the Hebrew, "I would choose rather to sit at the threshold." Ainsworth's translation is: "I have chosen to sit at the threshold, in the house of my God;" and Dr. Boothroyd's is: "Abide, or sit, at the threshold." See 2 Kings 12:9 22:4 25:18 1 Chronicles 9:19 2 Chronicles 23:4 ; Esther 2:21 6:2. In all these passages the marginal reading is threshold. I think the word door keeper does not convey the proper meaning of the words, "to sit at the threshold;" because the preference of the Psalmist was evidently given to a very humble position; whereas that of a door keeper, in Eastern estimation, is truly respectable and confidential. The marginal reading, however, "to sit at the threshold," at once strikes on an Eastern mind as a situation of deep humility. See the poor heathen devotee; he goes and sits near the threshold of his temple. Look at the beggar; he sits, or prostrates himself, at the threshold of the door or gate, till he shall have gained his suit. Joseph Roberts.
Verse 10. House. Tents. Observe the force of the contrasted expressions. The house is the Lord's; the tents are of the wicked. The pleasures of sin are for a season only; the world passeth away, and the lusts thereof. Arthur Pridham.
Verse 10. The tents. It is not any tents, or tents of any ordinary kind, that are understood, but rich, powerful, glorious, and splendid tents. Venema.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 10. Here is,
- A comparison of Places. A day in thy courts, etc.
How much more a day in heaven! What, then, must an
eternity in heaven be!
- A comparison of Persons. I would rather be a
doorkeeper, etc. Better be the least in the Church
than the greatest in the world. If "better reign in
hell than serve in heaven" was Satan's first thought
after he fell, it was the first thought only. G.R.
- Days in God's courts. Days of hearing, of repenting,
of believing, of adoration, of communion, of revival,
- Their preciousness. Better than a thousand days of
victory, of pleasure, of money making, of harvest, of
discussion, of travelling amid beauties of nature.
- Reasons for this preciousness. They are more
pleasurable, more profitable now, and more
preparatory for the future and for heaven. The
employment, the society, the enjoyment, the result,
etc., are all better.