What Can We Learn about Home in the Psalms?
Images of Afghan refugees are all over the news. We also have the ongoing immigrant crisis at our borders. What are they seeking? A new life. A place where they can live and prosper, safe from harm. A home. What can we learn about home in the Psalms?
What is Home?
Webster tells us that home is a place (such as a house or apartment) where a person lives or a family living together in one building, house, etc. But I think most would agree that a home is more than a building or place.
It has been said that, “Home is the place that, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” (Robert Frost) I don’t know about you, but I have a problem with this. Some families refuse entry to certain members.
For me, home is about belonging. If someone belongs, then, of course, you will let them in.
Searching for Home
To not belong is a painful experience. In my twenties I spent a summer in the Dominican Republic where my eyes were opened to the vast inequities in the world. I came back to the Unites States and dropped out of everything I was involved in: church, school, work. I no longer belonged.
After this I spent time in ministry with homeless people, Catholic Worker communities and the peace movement. The fringes of society and church became my home as I searched for where I belonged. It was a difficult time of my life. (I recount some of my experiences with homeless people in my book, Magnificent Failure.)
Eventually I found a new home; a new sense of belonging. The scripture passage from John 14:23 sustained me, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Jesus/God will make a home in me!
Home in the Psalms
Often the Psalms mirror concepts from other parts of the Bible. Home is no exception.
Psalm 84:4 “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest in which she puts her young.” A reminder of how precious we are in God’s sight. God doesn’t forget the smallest among us as we hear in the Gospels, Mt. 10:29-31, Lk. 12:6-7.
In Psalm 68:6-7 we hear, “The father of orphans and the defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. God gives a home to the forsaken; he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.” Our God gives homes to those who are forsaken, including the resident alien (Ps. 146:9, Ex. 22:20-22) Hospitality to those who are far from home is a mandate in the Bible. There were no inns for nomads. Travelers relied on the hospitality of the people in the countries that traversed. Jesus and his disciples relied on the hospitality of others.
Psalm 113:9 “He establishes in her home the barren wife as the joyful mother of children.” Widows and women without children had no standing in the Old Testament culture. God, who raises up the lowly, gave these women a home where they belonged.
Our Future Home
To have a home means we have a place where we belong. Ultimately we do not belong in this world. We are meant for something else, heaven. All the homes on this earth are but temporary dwellings, way-stations on our path to God. Even our bodies are but temporary homes. “For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven. For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly habitation.” (2 Cor. 5:1-2)
This world, as wondrous as it is, is but a foretaste of the next world, our true home. We belong to our God—that is our ultimate home, whether in this world or the next.
What has been your experience of home? Have you ever been homeless?
This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and and receive a free copy of Still Dancing, the second book in my Dancing through Life Series. click here to sign up
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