Psalms 84:3

3 Even a sparrow finds a home, and a swallow, a nest for herself where she places her young- near Your altars, Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.

Psalms 84:3 Meaning and Commentary

Psalms 84:3

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house
One or other of the houses of men, where to build its nest; or its nest itself is called an house, as it seems to be explained in the next clause: the word here used signifies any bird; we translate it a "sparrow", and so Kimchi; the Targum renders it the "dove"; but the Midrash is,

``it is not said as a dove, but as a sparrow: the dove takes its young, and returns to its place; not so the sparrow:''

and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young;
the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, have it the "turtle", the stock, or ring dove: and so the Targum, which paraphrases this clause, in connection with the following, thus:

``and the turtle a nest for herself, whose young are fit to be offered up upon thine altars:''

it is translated a swallow in ( Proverbs 26:2 ) and has its name in Hebrew from liberty, it not loving confinement, or because it freely visits the houses of men without fear:

even thine altars, O Lord of hosts;
that is, as some understand it, there the swallow builds a nest, and lays her young; but it can hardly be thought that this could be done in them, since the priests were so often officiating at them, and there were so much noise, fire, and smoke there; it must be "at the sides of them", as the Syriac and Arabic versions render it, or near unto them; or rather in the rafters of the house where they were; and the rafters and beams of the temple were of cedar, and in such turtles have their nests {s}; or in the houses adjoining to the tabernacle; or in the trees that might be near it; see ( Joshua 24:26 ) , and so the psalmist seems to envy and begrudge the place these birds had, and wishes he had the same nearness as they. Kimchi observes, that if this is to be understood of David, when in the land of the Philistines, at that time high places and altars were lawful everywhere, and there birds might build their nests; but if of the captivity, the birds found a place and built their nests in the ruins of the temple and altars; and so Jarchi; for as for the temple, it was not built in the times of David; besides, when built, had a scarecrow on it F20: though the words may be considered as in connection with ( Psalms 84:3 ) and what goes before be read in a parenthesis, as they are by R. Judah Ben Balsam, cited by R. Aben Ezra;

``my soul longeth for the courts of the Lord, crieth out for the living God: even thine altars, O Lord of hosts'';

that is, for them; or may be supplied thus,

``I desire thine altars, O Lord of hosts'' F21:

as the birds above mentioned seek for a nest, and desire to find one, and have what they want, and nature prompts them to; so I desire a place in thine house and courts, and near thine altars; see ( Matthew 8:20 ) , or thus; as these birds rejoice, when they have found an house or nest for themselves and young; so should I rejoice, might I be favoured once more with attendance on thine altars, O Lord of hosts: mention is made of "altars", referring both to the altar of burnt sacrifice, and the altar of incense, both typical of Christ, ( Hebrews 13:10 ) and of his sacrifice and intercession; both which believers have to do with: it is added,

my King, and my God;
when, by attending at his tabernacle, courts, and altars, he would testify his subjection to him as his King, and his faith in him, and thankfulness to him, as his God; see ( John 20:28 ) .


F19 Vide Theocrit. Idyl. 5.
F20 "To drive away birds", or "to destroy them", Misn. Middot, c. 4. s. 6. Maimon. & Bartenora, in ib.
F21 So Noldius, p. 23.

Psalms 84:3 In-Context

1 How lovely is Your dwelling place, Lord of Hosts.
2 I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.
3 Even a sparrow finds a home, and a swallow, a nest for herself where she places her young- near Your altars, Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.
4 How happy are those who reside in Your house, who praise You continually. Selah
5 Happy are the people whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
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