Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Psalm 84:5-7

Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.


Blessed are they whose strength is in You.
Our strength is not in ourselves, our flesh, our own accomplishments.
Everything we are is from God. He made us: our bodies, our minds, our talents, strengths and gifts. But beyond that, as we grow closer to Him we realize that everything we do depends on Him. We need His Spirit in our hearts to guide our decisions, strengthen our resolve, grace our courage and sustain our physical strength. Jesus said, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5, ESV)

in whose heart are the highways to Zion
Zion is the mountain of God; the Kingdom of God; the Holy City; the new, redeemed Jerusalem. Those who have the highways to Zion in their hearts are those who look forward ("Thy Kingdom come," as the Lord's prayer says)... waiting and working for the day when the Lord returns. He will rule with justice and put an end to sin and suffering. As I have been studying Revelation recently, this is a wonderful encouragement. Revelation focuses much on the terrors of the tribulation that will occur before the end of time, before the new heaven and the new earth. Those whose strength is in the Lord are able to put their focus beyond all that, looking instead, with joy, to the coming kingdom.

As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.

On the way to Zion, there are tribulations, difficult paths, desert wastelands. This makes me think of The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie's sister, Betsy, utterly exemplified the person this psalm is describing. Although she was weak and sick, her strength was in the Lord, and her heart was focused on His Kingdom. While Betsy and Corrie went together from one concentration camp to another, Betsy rejoiced in her opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus with many fellow prisoners who had lost hope. With her sweet spirit--the Spirit of Christ in her--she united prisoners, helped people share their resources, soothed arguments, and most importantly, she led Bible studies.

Although they were in what you would call a Valley of Baca, Christ in Betsy made it a place of refreshment. Her love touched people, gave them hope for eternity, nurtured their spirits. Betsy taught Corrie to be thankful, even for the fleas in one of their dormitories, because the fleas kept the guards away so the women could study God's Word together. Like Paul and Silas who sang and praised God in the Philippian prison, Betsy and Corrie brought peace and joy to Nazi concentration camps. Betsy's heart even broke for the Nazi prison guards who were so crippled and blinded by hate. With Christ in us, when we face difficult or miserable times, we have the opportunity, like Betsy Ten Boom, to make our Valley of Baca a place of springs, because of the strength of the Lord that abides within us.

They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
This is our hope. The Lord's strength will sustain us. No matter how bad life on earth may get, the Lord will never leave or forsake those He calls His own. And after sustaining us and carrying us through, He eventually brings us to heaven, glorious heaven, where there are no more tears and no more pain. There, He comforts us and covers us and shows us His glory, which makes the Grand Canyon look like an ant hill. We have so much to look forward to.

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