Monday, June 29, 2009

The Valley of Baca

"Blessed is the man whose strength is in You.
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass trough the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring (or artisian well);
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go on from strength to strength;
Everyone of them appears before God in Zion."
Psalm 84:5-7

Recently intrigued by these central verses in Psalm 84, I found some rich insight
from the Treasury of David by C.M. Spurgeon, volume 4.

Valley of Baca: Valley of tear shrubs, valley of weeping / dejection. A sandy, dry, and barren expanse.

"Blessed is the man whose strength is in you, whose heart is set on pilgrimage."

When those whose hearts are set towards God go through a barren valley, they make it a well. In thinking forward upon the comfort of God, thier thoughts in the present become as a rain of blessings - a liberal rain upon the ground.

"They make it a spring / well"

No misery can be so great, no estate so barren but a God-focused heart can become a well out of which to draw forth water of comfort, water to cleanse (repentence), water to cool (patience), water to moisten, water to grow into grace.

"The rain also covers it with pools." (Literally can mean weeping but also blessings)

And if the well happens to be dry and affords no water from below, yet the rain shall fill their pools, and supply them with water from above. If natural forces are not sufficient, then God offers supernatural graces.

The most gloomy present becomes bright to them, passing through even a terrible wilderness, they turn it into a place of springs. Their joyous hope and the infinite beauty of the goal, which is worth any toil or trouble, offers them enlivening comfort, refreshing and strengthening in the midst of an arid steppe.

Not only does their faith bring forth water out of the sand and rocks, but God also on His part lovingly anticipates their love, and rewarding anticipates their faithfulness with a gentle rain. Like that rain that refreshes the fields in Autumn, descends from above and enwraps the Valley of Baca in a fullness of blessing... The arid steppe becomes resplendent with a flowery festive arment.

Not to the outward appearences, but spiritually to the travelers, ina manner non the less true and real.

"They go from strength to strength"

Normally the travelers strength diminishes in preportion to the distance traveled and the difficulty of the road. But for them it is reversed - they go on from strength to strength.

"Everyone of them appears before God in Zion"

No one perished along the way from attacks of wild beasts, wandering bandits, nor did any become discouraged and turn back.

So it shall be with true spiritual pilgrims. The grace of God will always prove sufficient to preserve them, safe and blameless, to His heavenly kingdom... troubles shall not overwhelm them... they are kept by the power of God.


Christy Joy said...

Caitlin! I am SO glad you called me last night to tell me you were posting this! You were right, I love it! I'm going to study it out as well. Thanks SO much for posting this!

Hope the red sea painting goes well! Wish I could be there to help!

Caitlin said...

The thoughts I found reminded me of some of the treasures that Gramie found by digging deep into the Psalms. She really enhanced my appreciation for these prayers.

Saralyn said...

Oh Caitlin, thanks so much for sharing! So much depth of meaning is added to these verses to know what the valley of Baca is. It's such an encouraging promise. God's way of working is so beautiful!

Missing you!

Cindy said...

Wow! A very timely interpretation for anyone going through struggles - which is everyone, sooner or later! Thanks for sharing. Now I'm going to go read that Psalm. I wonder what a tear shrub looks like. :)

Jessi said...

Hi! You don't know me, but I found this post on your blog as I was doing a search for reflections on Psalm 84:5-7. This post is beautiful and I was wondering if you would allow me to copy it (with credit appropriately given, of course) for a contemplative display I am working on for a conference. Our focus for this time in centered on the themes of this passage.

I have check the box below to be notified of follow up comments, so if you respond via a comment here, I should receive it. Thank you!



Caitlin said...

Hi Jessi,

I just now happened across your comment :) and I'm so glad that you were blessed too by this treasure in Psalms. I'm sure it is now far past the conference you referred to, but you are certainly welcome to share anything that you find encouraging on my blog. If God can use my little words and meanderings to bless others that is just more evidence of His incredible grace!

Duke Vipperman said...

Today the Celtic Daily Prayer Book has Psalm 84 as one of its readings. Wanting to see what the Valley of Baca looked like I was led to your meditation. Well done indeed. May I post a link to it on the Northumbria Community Facebook page

The Rev. Canon Dr Duke Vipperman and a companion of the Northumbria Community - Toronto Carrying Place

Caitlin said...

Yes, of course you may. My sincerest hope is that others will come to experience the comfort of God in their daily lives as I have. No treasure can compare!