Trials and Perseverance – The Valley of Baca

Psalm 84: 5-7

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion”.

No one knows the exact ancient location of the Valley of Baca, but it was apparently the only passageway into the high hills where Israel’s Cities of Refuge were located (the towns in the Kingdom of Israel and Kingdom of Judah in which the perpetrators of manslaughter could claim the right of asylum, see Numbers 35:6-8 and Joshua 20:7-8).

Some scholars state that the Valley of Baca was also representative of the valley that led up to the city of Jerusalem where the temple of God was found.  A weary traveler, searching for safety from those who were pursuing him because of an accidental death or some inadvertent sin that he had committed, would have to travel this valley to find refuge and safety in the House of God or the Cities of Refuge.

While we don’t know the exact modern location, scholars tell us that the Valley of Baca was part of the desert country and would have been filled with thorns, wild animals, pitfalls, vipers and all sorts of danger.  We are also told there were wells of water, but they were apparently far apart and hard to get to.  It was nearly impossible to travel this valley without facing extreme hardship and suffering, which is why the Valley of Baca literally means, “Valley of Tears” or “Valley of Weeping”

For anyone who has run a marathon on a hot day, you know the feeling of yearning for the next water station.  At the start of the race your race package tells you that there will be refreshments every 5km and, especially in the latter part of the race, you count down every ½ km until you get to the next stop.  That pit stop is a welcome site as your mouth becomes parched, your core temperature is rising and the will to go on begins to decline.

In the same way, this scripture tells us that God promises to place wells in our path to draw from.  Without those wells of water, those times of refreshing we could not make it because the journey is too difficult.  Each of us will walk through that place and some might be there right now, weeping and mourning as you walk.  But take heart because the scriptures say:  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

It is interesting what the Psalmist says about the Pilgrims.  “As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs”.  Do you notice it says “they” make it a place of springs and not “God” makes it a place of springs?  As we are intent on pursuing God, by our simple intent to seek God in the valleys of our life, we make it a spring of refreshment for ourselves, and also those who come after us.  As you choose to graft yourself into Jesus (John 15: 5-8), you create wells for those around you as well.

Are you making your Valley of Baca a place of springs?  Dig into Jesus and the refreshing springs will bubble up for you and those around you.

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