«ἡ καρδία μου καὶ ἡ σάρξ μου ἠγαλλιάσαντο ἐπὶ Θεὸν ζῶντα» (Ψαλμ. ΠΓ᾽ 3)
“My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God” (Ps 84:3)
It is said that David composed this Psalm in the desert beyond the Jordan. He was there because he was being pursued by his son Absalom after having been betrayed by his counsellor Ahithophel. We therefore have David searching for God in the desert. It was adopted later by pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem, so it has become the par excellence Psalm of pilgrimage. The Psalm speaks of an immediate relationship with the Lord. Rejoicing of the heart denotes the realm of human feelings and desires captivated by God. Between the mind and heart, between reason and the emotions, there is no separation, no distance, for the Psalmist is turned wholly to God.
The past tense of the verb “rejoice” conveys the sense of a living experience which is full and complete. It is something unfolding at this very moment, something the Psalmist is feeling and which fills him completely. Since the “rejoicing” pertains to the experience of the pilgrim, it also encompasses the notion of “memory”. It’s as if he’s saying: “As I prepare for my pilgrimage, I call You to mind, my God, and my heart rejoices exceedingly, along with my soul and body”. In the language of Scripture, the verb “rejoice” is strong, and describes the externalisation of a profound inner state.
The Hebrew says: “My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God”. So the whole self, body and soul, participates in the experience of joy and delight. Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra writes: “My spirit shouts out to You, and so does my heart; my flesh raises a din, and all that is within me thirsts for You; my whole being longs and languishes for You alone. I sigh and cry out with unquenchable thirst, inflamed by the thought that before me is the fountain from which I will drink”.
Source: Lychnos April / May 2017