This is a petionary psalm of David. Petition literally means to "bring to remembrance" to God. It is a short prayer for a quick rescue and anticipates the rejoicing for the rescue. It was written during a traumatic moment in his life. Some commentators believe it may have been during the civil war with Absalom and others believe it was either during his time of exile while Saul was king or shortly after his coronation. The Psalm corresponds to Psalm 40:13-17 with a few variations.
This psalm was written during an unspecified time in David's life by the descendants of Korah. This psalm is often read with Psalm 42 and 43. They all express that heartfelt desire for a place of worship. It is a "pilgrim psalm," but it is not in the collection of pilgrim psalms of ascent (Psalm 120-134). It proclaims the blessedness of the pilgrim who goes in faith to the temple because it was at the temple where people met with the Lord through the priests. On this pilgrimage they were strengthened even through the Valley of Baca ("balsam tree"). This was apparently a waterless place that became a place of springs.
We do not need the temple. We have constant access into the presence of God because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25; 10:19-25)!
REFLECTION (written in 2008)
In the midst of a very busy and hectic day in the middle of a very busy and hectic week, I realized I had some time to "steal away" in my bedroom before eight teenagers, their moms, and younger sibling descended upon my house for an afternoon homeschool literature class. I had just spent the better part of the morning teaching another class at our co-op. I was zonked. My heart yearned for a place of quiet rest in the presence of the Lord away from the bustle of activity that surrounded me.
This Psalm met me as I entered into that place. The words were a comfort to my tired soul as I "nested" with the Lord like a "sparrow" who has found a home" (84:3). Sometimes, we think we have to have a huge span of time and the perfect place to meet with God, but God meets us anywhere at anytime if we only "set our heart on pilgrimage" straight into His presence.
I only had twenty minutes before kids filled my house, but God was more than capable to meet me in that time and fill me. He can fill you up too. Just set your heart on pilgrimage.
Set your heart on pilgrimage to be in the presence of God no matter how busy or hectic your day today. God WILL meet you!
Here is a story that I have had in pamphlet form since I was young: My Heart Christ's Home.
Lord, thank You that You no longer dwell in a building but in my heart. Thank You that You are there 24/7/365 to meet with me. Lord, forgive me when my heart wanders away from Your presence. Fix my heart and focus on You and toward "pilgrimage." I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.