–By Elizabeth Ahlman
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. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed (Psalm 84:5-9 ESV)!
As the pilgrims make their way to Jerusalem, to the temple of Yahweh, they know the way by heart and their joy at going to the Lord’s house transforms the barren places. The Valley of Baca can also be understood as the valley of tears or weeping. There may have been an actual spot on the journey to Jerusalem which was barren and troublesome for the pilgrims. However, their joy at going to the Lord’s house transforms the hardships. But who really has this kind of power or joy to transform such a barren place, a place of weeping, dryness, and no sustenance?
The Psalmist narrows down onto one person: Yahweh’s anointed. When we look on Yahweh’s anointed one, these verses themselves are transformed. It is not us, but Jesus, who knows the way to Zion by heart, whose strength is in Yahweh. It is not us, or the pilgrims of so long ago who transform the barren valley into a lush place filled with pools of water. In His earthly life, Jesus made this pilgrimage on our behalf. He journeyed through this valley of tears and weeping, this barren hopeless wasteland of sin, death and decay. As He went the way of the Valley of Baca, He transformed it. He took water and made it wine. He took the leprous and made them clean. He touched the sick and made them well. He forgave the sinners. He made the blind to see, gave the lame the ability to walk and raised the dead. He went through our valleys and transformed them into lush places.
But the greatest valley He trudged through on our behalf was that of death. He walked through the barren wasteland of tortuous crucifixion and abandonment by God. He walked through death, the most barren Valley of Baca there is, the source of all tears and weeping. And as He did so, He transformed it. He filled the barren wasteland of death with His life-giving blood and the water flowing from His pierced side. He came through the Valley of Death and in His resurrected body stands before the Father in His courts interceding for us. He brings us through the desolate valleys of this life and our deaths so that we, too, may stand before the Father in the joy of His presence, in the courts of His house.
So we pilgrims, too, can go into the Lord’s courts and His house with joy overflowing even in the Valley of Baca, knowing that our Lord and Savior, our anointed one, has made a way for us.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, You have made a way for us through death to life and joy in the Lord’s house; bring us through all of our valleys of Baca and sustain us in this life so that we may serve You in joy and stand before You on the Last Day, for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- You can read last week’s devotion about “Confessing Thomas” here.
- Learn more about what is happening in the Eurasia region! This week we posted about artwork that helps us reflect on Good Friday. Last week, we posted about the Lutheran Church in Siberia! Explore our site to learn what God in Christ is doing in Eurasia!