From strength to strength
George van Popta
They go from strength to strength—Psalm 84:7
In Psalm 84 the Sons of Korah, the authors and first singers of this Psalm, spoke about making the pilgrimage from some far off place to the temple in Jerusalem. Often it was a difficult journey. They mention, in verse 6, the Valley of Baca.
Baca means “weeping.” The valley of weeping. A Lebanese barber I went to many years ago told me that the Baca Valley is in Lebanon, to the north of Israel and Jerusalem. He was a Lebanese Christian who came from that area. The Baca valley, he said, is a dry valley but when it rains it is covered with puddles and pools of water. He told me that is the imagery used here in verse 6. It is amazing what you can learn from your barber.
Often we are traveling through life, weeping for any number of reasons. You might be crying because of the death of a loved one, due to an illness, or because of pain caused by a chronic condition. But as you travel toward your heavenly Father and your Lord Jesus the place of weeping becomes a place of joy and refreshment.
Let us go to Zion, to Jesus, who will wipe away our tears and refresh us.
Today travel is quite easy. We motor along in our cars and stop at one of the many Tim Hortons or Starbucks along the way. But in the days of this Psalm travel was often difficult. It could be so very hot and there were not many places to rest. And yet they went from strength to strength.
From the late Rev. Van Dooren, my first professor of preaching at CRTS, I learned that the expression “strength to strength” should make us think of oases in the desert. The Children of Israel, wandering in the desert, went from oasis to oasis, and at each one they were strengthened. Instead of getting weaker along the way they grew stronger.
How will you become stronger and stronger as you travel life’s journey? Only by following the Lord Jesus. If you do not follow Jesus you will become weaker and lose your way. But if you follow him you’ll grow stronger and stronger, until you appear before God in Zion.
Believers who die appear before God in Zion. That is where they now are: before God in the heavenly Zion. They went from strength to strength.
Though they may have become mentally and physically weak, yet they went from strength to strength because they always stayed close to Jesus.
Both my mothers became very old. At the time of their death they were like little birdies—weak and frail—but they knew where they were going: to Jesus!
Parents, teach your children about the importance of following the Lord Jesus on their pilgrimage through life.
You who are weeping, follow Jesus and you will travel from strength to strength.
Follow Jesus and you will arrive at the good destination—before God in Zion.
Some things to ponder....
- Consider Elim, an oasis mentioned in Exodus 15:27. How would it have been a place of refreshment for the Children of Israel?
- Why was the Psalmist, in Psalm 42:3, weeping?
- Who will wipe away the tears from your eyes? See Revelation 7:17 and 21:4.