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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 84:5

 

 

How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion!

Adam Clarke Commentary

The man whose strength is in thee -

"Who life and strength from thee derives;

And by thee moves and in thee lives."

In whose heart are the ways of them - This is no sense. The original, however, is obscure: בלבבם מסלות mesilloth bilebabam, "the high ways are in their hearts;" that is, the roads winding to thy temple. Perhaps there is a reference here to the high roads leading to the cities of refuge. We wish to escape from the hands and dominion of these murderers, and the roads that lead to Jerusalem and the temple we think on with delight; our hearts are with them, we long to be traveiling on them.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-84.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee - Not merely are they blessed who dwell there permanently, but the man also whose heart is there; who feels that his strength is in God alone who loves to go there when opportunity is afforded him, treading his way to Zion. The idea is, that all strength must come from God; that this Strength is to be obtained by waiting on him (compare the notes at Isaiah 40:31), and that, therefore, it is a privilege thus to wait on God. Compare Psalm 84:7.

In whose heart are the ways of them - literally, “The ways in their heart.” DeWette renders this, “Who thinketh on the ways, or paths, to Jerusalem.” The word “ways” may refer either to the ways or paths that lead to the place of worship, or the ways to God and to heaven. As the allusion, however, is evidently to those who were accustomed to go up to the place of public worship, the meaning is, that the man is blessed or happy whose heart is on those ways; who thinks on them; who makes preparation for going up; who purposes thus to go up to worship. The sense is enfeebled in our translation by the insertion of the words “of them.” The literal translation is better: “The ways, that is, the paths, the going up, the journey, to the place of public worship, are in their heart.” Their affections; their thoughts are there. The word rendered ways, means commonly a raised way, a highway, but it may refer to any public path. It would be applicable to what we call a turnpike (road), as a way thrown up for public use. The allusion is to the ways or paths by which the people commonly went up to the place of public worship; and the idea may be well expressed in the language of Watts:

“I love her gates, I love the road.”

The sentiment thus expressed finds a response in thousands of hearts: in the happiness - the peace - the joy - with which true worshippers go to the house of God. In the mind of the writer of the psalm this would have an additional beauty and attractiveness as being associated with the thought of the multitudes thronging that path - the groups - the companies - the families - that crowded the way to the place of public worship on their great festal occasions.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-84.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee;

In whose heart are the highways to Zion.

Passing through the valley of Weeping they make it a place of springs;

Yea, the early rain covereth it with blessings.

They go from strength to strength;

Every one of them appeareth before God in Zion.

O Jehovah God of hosts, hear my prayer;

Give ear, O God of Jacob. (Selah)"

"In whose heart are the highways to Zion" (Psalms 84:5). This is the verse that is seized upon by some writers as an excuse for calling this psalm a pilgrimage hymn; but the translation, even in our version is strongly suspect. The words "to Zion" is in italics, indicating that they are not in the Bible at all but have been added by translators.

The current popular opinion that makes this psalm a pilgrimage song is founded upon a single word in Psalms 84:5 ("ways") which never means pilgrimage but is constantly treated as if it did.

"Highways" (Psalms 84:5). These are not roads, in the ordinary sense; they are "in the hearts" of those who love God; "These `ways' are being pondered (in men's hearts); and they refer to `directions,' or `courses of action' that should be followed in specific situations."[4]

"Passing through the valley of Weeping" (Psalms 84:6). Of course, this passage also is alleged to refer to some actual valley on one of the `roads' to Zion, but we cannot believe there ever was such a literal valley. We appreciate the great big "if" that appears in Addis' comment in speaking of it. He wrote: "Possibly there was such a valley."[5] Maybe so; but there is no such valley on any of the maps of ancient Palestine that are available to us.

The truth is, this is not a reference to any kind of literal valley. "The valley of Weeping" is any period of loss, sorrow, grief, deprivation, or disaster through which God's child must pass during his earthly sojourn; and the glory of God's service is that it enables the worshipper to change even sorrows into springs of praise and thanksgiving. The rains mentioned in the same context are a reference to God's blessing upon those who suffer.

"They go from strength to strength" (Psalms 84:7). The faithful worshipper of God finds his faith strengthened and increased day by day.

"Hear my prayer, O God of Jacob" (Psalms 84:8). Constant prayer is an element in the life of every faithful soul. Prayer has been called the "breath of the saints"; and when one stops praying, he is either spiritually dead, or soon will be.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/psalms-84.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, Or, "for thee", as some choose to render the words; who have bodily strength from the Lord, for his worship and service, to go up to his house, and serve him: this, with what follows in the two next verses, seem to refer to the males in Israel going up from different parts of the land to Jerusalem to worship, who had strength so to do; when the women and children, for want thereof, stayed at home, which was their infelicity, as it was the happiness of the males that they had ability for such a journey and service: the Targum is,

"whose strength is in thy Word;'

the essential Word, the Messiah, who have spiritual strength in and from him; see Isaiah 45:24, without this there is no heart to go up to the house of God; and this will carry through a great deal of bodily weakness; and by it saints overcome the temptations of Satan to the contrary, and perform the several duties of religion:

in whose heart are the ways of them; or "thy ways"F24"Semitae tuae", Tigurine version; so Kimchi. ; the ways of God, the ways of Zion, the ways to the house of God; who have these ways at heart, who ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherwards; who have not only ability, but inclination and readiness of mind, to walk in them; whose hearts are bent upon them, regarding no objection, difficulty, and discouragement; who stir up themselves and others to go up to the house of God, and are heartily desirous of being taught his ways, and walking in them, and take great pleasure and delight therein; they are ways of pleasantness and paths of peace to them; the word properly signifies "highways"F25מסלות "viae stratae", Montanus, Cocceius. , ways cast up. Some render it "ascensions in his heart"F26"Ascensiones in corde suo", V. L. so Sept. ; the affections of whose heart go up to God, like pillars of smoke perfumed with frankincense, are after God, his ways and worship, and are set on things above.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-84.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Blessed [is] the man whose d strength [is] in thee; in whose heart [are] the ways [of them].

(d) Who trusts nothing in himself but in you only, and learns from you to rule his life.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-84.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

(Compare Psalm 68:28).

in whose heart … the ways — that is, who knows and loves the way to God‘s favor (Proverbs 16:17; Isaiah 40:3, Isaiah 40:4).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-84.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.

Whose strength — Who trusteth in thee as his only strength.

Thy ways — Blessed are they whose hearts are set upon Zion and their journey is thither.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/psalms-84.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

5Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee. David again informs us, that the purpose for which he desired liberty of access to the sanctuary was, not merely to gratify his eyes with what was to be seen there, but to make progress in faith. To lean with the whole heart upon God, is to attain to no ordinary degree of advancement: and this cannot be attained by any man, unless all his pride is laid prostrate in the dust, and his heart truly humbled. In proposing to himself this way of seeking God, David’s object is to borrow from him by prayer the strength of which he feels himself to be destitute. The concluding clause of the verse, the ways are in their hearts, (464) is by some interpreted as meaning, That those are happy who walk in the way which God has appointed; for nothing is more injurious to a man than to trust in his own understanding. It is not improperly said of the law, “This is the way, walk ye in it,” Isaiah 30:21. Whenever then men turn aside, however little it may be, from the divine law, they go astray, and become entangled in perverse errors. But it is more appropriate to restrict the clause to the scope of the passage, and to understand it as implying, that those are happy whose highest ambition it is to have God as the guide of their life, and who therefore desire to draw near to him. God, as we have formerly observed, is not satisfied with mere outward ceremonies. What he desires is, to rule and keep in subjection to himself all whom he invites to his tabernacle. Whoever then has learned how great a blessedness it is to rely upon God, will put forth all the desires and faculties of his mind, that with all speed he may hasten to Him.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-84.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 84:5 Blessed [is] the man whose strength [is] in thee; in whose heart [are] the ways [of them].

Ver. 5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee] i.e. Who is enabled by thee, both in body and mind, to come from the place of his abode to the solemn feasts.

In whose heart are the ways of them] Here the old translation, In whose heart are thy ways, is far better, i.e. As he bringeth his body to the ordinances, so he hath thy ways or laws engraven in his heart.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-84.html. 1865-1868.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

It is from the very striking manner in which this verse is introduced, and the singular manner adopted in the words of it, that I ventured to make the observations I did make in the opening of this Psalm. Let the Reader mark it, and while he finds it written, Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; let him ask of whom can this be fully said, without the shadow of a change, but of the blessed Jesus? In whose heart but his are the ways of his people. Sweet thought, to see Christ in all things having the pre-eminence!


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Bibliography
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/psalms-84.html. 1828.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Whose strength is in thee; who trusteth in thee as his only strength, and refuge, and portion. Or, who hath strength in (or rather for, as the Hebrew prefix beth is frequently used, as hath been noted again and again) thee, i.e. who hath (or who useth; for having is sometimes put for using; of which see Matthew 13:12 1 Corinthians 7:2) ability of body and mind for thee, and for thy service; or for that journey which here he seems to insinuate, and in the following words and verses he particularly describes. For it must be considered that all the males of Israel were obliged to come to the tabernacle or temple thrice in a year, Exodus 34:23,24, and that some of them lived at a great distance, and consequently were to take a long and troublesome journey, which also might at some times and places be accompanied with hazards and other inconveniences; and therefore such as wanted either courage or bodily strength might be discouraged or hindered from undertaking it, and from the enjoyment of God in his solemn and public worship; which though in some cases it might not be their sin, yet surely it was a great affliction and infelicity; and consequently it was a blessed thing to be freed from those impediments, as the psalmist here observes.

In whose heart are the ways of them, i.e. of these men; for though man be thee singular number, it is understood collectively of all that sort or company of men. But these words, of them, are not in the Hebrew, and, as some learned men have observed, seem to disturb or darken the sense. Others therefore seem to render the words better and more agreeably to the Hebrew text,

in whose heart are thy (which pronoun is oft understood)

ways, to wit, those ways which lead to thy house; or, the ways, so called emphatically, or by way of eminency, the ways of (or, to) Zion, as they are called Lamentations 1:4, as is evident from Psalms 84:7. So the meaning is, Blessed are they whose thoughts and affections are much and strongly fixed upon the highways, and their journeys to Zion, who have both strength of body, as is said in the former branch, and readiness of heart, as is here added, to go to Zion; which are the two qualifications requisite for their journey. Blessed are they whose hearts are set upon Zion and their journeys thither; that are continually, or from time to time, stirring up and bespeaking themselves and others, as they did, Jeremiah 31:6, Arise ye, let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God. As when a man’s heart is knit in true friendship to one that lives at some distance from him, he is oft thinking with great desire and delight of the place where he dwelleth, and of the way leading to it.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-84.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

5. In whose heart are the ways of them—Hebrew, The highways are in their hearts. The “ways,” or highways, are the roads, or pilgrim routes, leading to Jerusalem, “the ways of Zion,” Lamentations 1:4 :the principal roads taken in going up to the annual feasts. The true worshipper loved these “ways” and delighted to travel them; they were “in” his “heart,” because they led to the sanctuary, the dwelling-place of Jehovah. In the enthusiastic periods of their history, the Moslems took great care of the pilgrim routes to Mecca, and to provide khans, or resting stations, along the way.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-84.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 84:5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee — Who trusteth in thee as his only refuge, strength, and portion. Or, who had strength in, or rather, for, (as the Hebrew ב, beth, frequently signifies,) thee; that is, who hath (or who useth, for having is sometimes put for using: see Matthew 13:12; 1 Corinthians 7:2) ability of body, and mind for thee, and for thy service; or for that journey, which he here seems to insinuate, and which in the following words he particularly describes. For it must be remembered, that all the males of Israel were required to come to the tabernacle or temple thrice every year, Exodus 34:23-24; and that some of them lived at a great distance, and consequently, if they went, had to take a long and troublesome journey, which also might sometimes be attended with danger, and other inconveniences; and therefore such as wanted either courage or bodily strength, might be discouraged, or hindered from undertaking it, and so might be deprived of the benefit of enjoying God in his solemn and public worship. Which, though in some cases it might not be their sin, yet surely was a great affliction and infelicity; and, consequently, it was a blessed thing to be free from those impediments, as the psalmist here observes. In whose heart are the ways of them — That is, of those men, who passing, &c., as in Psalms 84:6. But these words, of them, are not in the Hebrew; and, as several learned men have observed, disturb or obscure the sense. Others therefore seem to render the clause better, and more agreeably to the Hebrew text, thus: In whose heart are thy ways, (the pronoun thy being often understood,) namely, those ways which lead to thy house; or, the ways, so called, by way of eminence, the ways of, or to, Zion, (as they are called, Lamentations 1:4,) as appears from Psalms 84:7. Thus the meaning is, Blessed are they whose thoughts and affections are strongly fixed upon the highways leading to Zion, and upon their journeys thither; who have both strength of body, as is said in the former clause, and readiness of mind, as is here added, to go to Zion; which are the two qualifications requisite for that journey. Blessed are they whose hearts are so set upon Zion, that they are, from time to time, exciting themselves and others, saying, Arise, let us go up to Zion, unto the Lord our God, Jeremiah 31:6. “Such a company of sojourners are true Christians going up to the heavenly Jerusalem: such ought to be their trust in God, and such the subject of their thoughts.” — Horne.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-84.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Convert. Bring back the remnant of thy people, dispersed through the world. Only a few returned under Cyrus; the rest came back by degrees principally during the reigns of Hystaspes and Alexander the Great. (Calmet, Diss.) --- While we continue unconverted, we are objects of God's wrath. (Berthier) (Lamentations v. 21.) --- Our Saviour. Septuagint, "of our salvations." St. Jerome, "our Jesus." (Haydock) --- Saviour of mankind, mitigate thy wrath against us. (Worthington)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-84.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

man: i.e. any one; not priest or Levite merely. Hebrew. "adam.

are the ways of them. Supply Figure of speech Ellipsis, "in whose heart are [Thy] highways" [leading thereunto].


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-84.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-84.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them.
strength
28:7,8; Isaiah 45:24; Zechariah 10:12; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:13
in whose
40:8; 42:4; 55:14; Isaiah 26:9; Jeremiah 31:33; 50:4,5; Micah 4:2

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-84.html.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Psalm 84:5

"Blessed is the man whose strength is in you; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also fills the pools." Psalm 84:5-6

"Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baca,

they make it a place of springs;

the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,

until each appears before God in Zion." Psalm 84:5-7

David casts a glimpse here at those pilgrims who were taking their upward journey to worship God in Zion. He marks their road, and takes occasion to spiritualize it; for he says, "In whose heart," in whose experience, in whose soul, "are the ways" of these pilgrims Zionward.

What are these "ways?" It is this, that "passing through the valley of Baca, they make it a well." This valley of Baca appears to have been a very perilous pass, through which pilgrims journeyed toward Jerusalem; and on account of the difficulties, dangers, and sufferings that they met with, it was named "the valley of Baca," or "the valley of weeping," "the valley of tears."

But the Psalmist says, "Blessed is the man in whose heart are the ways of them, who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well." Here is the distinctive character of the true pilgrim. Not that he is journeying merely through the "valley of Baca;" not that his eyes are drowned in tears; not that his heart is filled with sorrows; not that his soul is cut with temptations; not that his mind is tried by suffering. But this is his distinctive feature—he "makes it a well." This the ungodly know nothing of; this the professing world, for the most part, are entirely unacquainted with; but this is the secret which "no fowl knows, and which the vulture"s eye has not seen."

One feature of the "valley of Baca" was, that the burning sun above, and the parched ground beneath, at the time of year when the pilgrims traveled, made the whole valley arid and dry. But "they made it a well." There were wells dug in this valley of Baca for the pilgrims to slake their thirst at. And David, looking at these wells dug for the pilgrims, applies them spiritually to the refreshment that the Lord"s people meet with in their course Zionward. "Make it a well;" that Isaiah , there are from time to time sweet refreshments in this valley of tears; there are bubblings up of divine consolation; there are fountains of living waters, streams of heavenly pleasures.

I remember a friend of mine telling me, that once while journeying through one of the deserts in Asia, he and his companions came to a well; and their disappointment when they found the well was dry he said no language could depict; their grief and trouble when, after hours of traveling, they came at night to encamp by the well, and found that the sun had dried it up, were indeed most acute. As, therefore, none but pilgrims through the dry and parched valley could adequately feel the sweetness of the natural well; so none but spiritual pilgrims, afflicted, exercised, and harassed, can appreciate the sweetness of the "pure water of life" with which the Lord at times refreshes the soul.


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Bibliography
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 84:5". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jcp/psalms-84.html.

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