“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.”
This Psalm has long been one of Nan and my favorites. We read it this morning in the guesthouse of Mapang, in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. It is very fitting, as many unexpected circumstances have developed in our journey.
First, Jim Parlier, the veteran missionary who began the work among the Ese people with his wife Jaki in the early 1960s, has been prevented from joining us due to a lung infection. Please offer up some prayer for his recovery. Another gentleman who planned to join us has also had to drop out, due to his wife’s health.
And next, Faisal, who was to meet us in Australia and go to PNG with us, was denied entry into Australia at the last minute. Pray for him, as I know this must be a great disappointment to him and also, certainly, to the students at the Bible Institute.
Early this morning, we learned that Logan Carnell’s flight from Tokyo had been cancelled, so he is trying to re-route through Hong Kong to arrive in time for the mission flight to Sila airstrip. Pray for his travel success.
Further, we have learned that some of the graduating students may not be able to attend the graduation of this class of 2018 due to tribal fighting in areas through which they have to travel. Please pray for the graduation, and the classes, to be richly blessed in the face of these trials.
All of these conditions richly illustrate the truths outlined in the text above. This Psalm is dedicated to the “sons of Korah.” You will remember that due to the rebellion of Korah (Numbers 16), his descendants were banned from participating in the priestly office. However, due to their repentance—and the matchless grace of God—they were made “doorkeeper[s]” of the Tabernacle (Psa 84:10). David dedicates several Psalms to them as a demonstration of God’s faithfulness, and of the power of grace and forgiveness.
In the section of Psalm 84 cited above, which I have written in such a way as to identify the six separate elements of spiritual power, we can see how God works through adversity to develop our strength of faith and character.
Power Begins with Faith
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You …”
There is promised blessing to each and every one who will find strength through faith in the heavenly Father. By simple childlike faith in response to His initiating grace, He becomes our Shepherd, Defender, and Deliverer. We are strongest when we are helpless—for then we cast aside all self-reliance, and rest our cause in His mighty hands (2Co 12:9–10).
Power Develops through Pilgrimage
“… whose heart is set on pilgrimage.”
There is no sense of settled residence in the heart of the child of God who truly trusts in the Lord of Hosts. This life is transient, for the world and all that is in it is passing away (1Jo 2:15–17). The eyes of the soul fixed on Eternal God are also focused on our eternal home in His kingdom. Therefore, all of this life’s trials and sorrows are put into perspective by seeing the temporal in light of the eternal.
Sorrows Build Strength
“As they pass through the Valley of Baca ...”
This means “the valley of weeping.” Life has inescapable times of sorrow that, try as we might, we cannot avoid. Some are times of self-induced misery due to sinful actions and foolish decisions. At other times, conditions beyond our control involving loss, death, or the evil done to us by others, will weigh down our soul with grief. We all must pass through the valley of weeping at various times—but what a difference our faith makes!
Spiritual Power Transforms Temporal Conditions
“They make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools.”
This “valley of weeping” is portrayed as a dry, desert land. But amazingly, the very tears of our passage, along with the faith and prayer they generate, prove once again that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). All of the evils of this world, the fiery darts of the enemy, and the hate-filled and harmful things done to us by others cannot stop the transforming dynamic of the soul in time linked with the God of eternity. God is at work in us, making all things new.
Strength Utilized Builds Strength-Reserves
“They go from strength to strength …”
When we are forced—through our trials—to rely on the strength of faith in the promises of God, the very use of that strength is building reserves of power for the future. Though we may be at wit’s end and feel that our strength is nearly gone, we are unaware that future battles are being prepared for, and future victories guaranteed, by the very extremities we are facing. As we journey “from faith to faith” (Rom 1:17), we are building strength upon strength through the discovery of new vistas of the infinite and matchless grace of God.
The Source of all Power is the Watch-Care of God
“Each one appears before God in Zion.”
The eyes of the heavenly Father are on the smallest sparrow. Not even “the least of all the saints” (Eph 3:8) is overlooked or ignored by God. So vast is His love that each member of the family of God is considered as precious as His only begotten Son (Eph 1:6). Never believe the whispered lies of the devil that you and your life do not matter to God. If not even a sparrow falls without His notice, it is impossible that He would ever overlook your circumstances.
Trust in Him, and begin to build faith that goes “from strength to strength”!