“How lovely are Your dwelling places,
O Lord of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned
for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
The bird also has found a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
How blessed are those who dwell in Your house!
They are ever praising You. Selah.
How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring;
The early rain also covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength,
Every one of them appears before God in Zion.”
In this Psalm, the swallow makes her nest between the two altars in the tabernacle, that is, between the bronze altar in the outer court and the golden incense altar in the holy place. The bronze altar represents the place where we, as New Testament priests, labor with people and help them come to God. The golden incense altar is where the priest stands before God Himself, who dwells in the Holy of Holies.
The swallow represents the common people, meaning that everyone can find a home here. Between these two altars is the laver, the shewbread table, and the golden lampstand. To live between these altars means that we experience the reality of each of these items. This is to “go from strength to strength” until we at last “appear before God in Zion” at the golden incense altar. After spending time in God’s presence, the priest can return again to the bronze altar to serve others in a renewed way. (more…)