Earlier this year I stood with my family in the throne room of Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. We weren’t there for an audience with the Queen. No one was even on the thrones. We were just tourists, and like most tourists, we were impressed. The building was ornate, and every corner was packed with the history of important events that shaped the course of nations and generations of humans—events that still impact our world today.
To stand in the courts of real kings and queens is awe-inspiring. The power wielded there, the decisions made, the victories and defeats and intrigues—it all fills the air with a kind of heaviness, a weight of significance and importance. I wonder: if the royal courts still feel this significant for today’s tourists, how did they feel for the kings and queens of old? Can you imagine even one day of sitting on that throne, wielding that kind of power, authority, and influence over an entire kingdom?
In Psalm 84, we get a surprising glimpse of how a king felt about the significance of his royal court. What makes it surprising is that his focus is on another court, belonging to another King. King David writes this:
“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” (Psalm 84:10 ESV) 
Better Than a Crown
David was a real king, an absolute monarch with a real throne and a palace and a court where his people came before him to hear his decisions and his enemies came to bring their tribute. He was already living at the very top of human society. In modern terms you could say he was on the top rung of the ladder of success. He had power, in the extreme. Wealth, in excess. He had fame, and his influencer status was unrivaled. Even his song-writing skills were legendary. What else could this man achieve? He already had it all. And what does this man, who had everything the world could offer, value above the everything he had? He tells us plainly: he would rather have one day close to God, as a doorkeeper, than a thousand days of earthly prosperity anywhere else without him.
You mean those people that everyone looks past and walks past and takes for granted? How can a king speak this way? Would he really trade his crown and royal court for a post as the doorman of another King? Yes. If that was how he could be close to God, he would.
Beyond The Ladder of Success
David may have been at the top of the ladder of success, but he refused to live for it. His goal was simpler: he wanted to be as near as possible to God, the King above every king. That’s it. If it meant serving as a doorkeeper, that was fine with him. His own relative position on the ladder of human success was nothing compared to this one consuming passion. He knew that power and privilege and money in themselves could never replace the love of his Creator. He shuddered at the thought of living in “the tents of wickedness”, the encampment of rebellion against his King, among those who vainly attempt to replace God with the good things that he himself made.
Many generations later, one of David’s descendants would come from a far higher throne all the way down to the lowest and least—Jesus, the King above all kings, would willingly give His life as a sacrifice and service to God and win salvation for small, ordinary, sinful people like us. He left Heaven (Luke 22:25-27). He showed us that the treasure of being close to God, and the privilege of serving the people He treasures, are greater rewards than anything we could ever find in the high places of human society. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26 ESV). King David understood this. Do we?
The world around us tells us that it’s good to be king, because kings have the power to do whatever they want. In Psalm 84, a king tells us that it’s good to be a doorkeeper, because the highest places in human society are not the highest places at all. A doorkeeper who faithfully serves the King of Heaven for one day is in a better position than a king who has a thousand days to serve himself. David knew what it was like to be a king, and he also knew that the lowest position of ordinary service close to God was greater than the highest position of privilege without him. As the world shouts in our ears about power and success, will we listen to the king who said he would rather be a doorkeeper who was close to God than have anything this world can offer?
“Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!” (Psalm 65:4 ESV)
 The author of this article takes the view of Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, Matthew Henry, and many others who see King David as the author of Psalm 84, writing “for the Sons of Korah”. The time period, content, style, and sentiments of the Psalm are reflective of other Psalms that David authored.