About Joseph he said: “May the Lord bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below; with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield; with the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills; with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him who dwelt in the burning bush. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers. In majesty he is like a firstborn bull; his horns are the horns of a wild ox. With them he will gore the nations, even those at the ends of the earth. Such are the ten thousands of Ephraim; such are the thousands of Manasseh.” – Deuteronomy 33:13-17
This part of Deuteronomy is a list of blessings that different descendants can expect in the Promised Land. This list of blessings for Joseph and his descendants begins with two references to water. Dew from heaven and deep waters that lie below. Dew is ephemeral and hard to collect in sufficient quantities to satisfy one’s thirst. “Deep waters” are constant, cold, and generally clean when recovered from a well or spring. Springs occur naturally where groundwater rises to the surface, and wells are a human invention to intercept water that is otherwise hidden from view.
Spiritually speaking, dew is a little bit like the subtle movement of God in our lives on a day to day basis in the form of the Holy Spirit The still small voice that we must listen very carefully to hear. The “deep wells” (wells we did not dig) are like the rich history, creeds, hymns, and Christian communities that we gather with on Sunday and at other times to receive teaching, care for each other, and partake of the living water that Jesus offers. Both are important for our growth as Christians. The dew because it teaches us to trust and guides our steps; and the deep wells because they satisfy the deep thirst in our souls for community and spiritual growth.
Which one is more important dew from heaven or deep waters from below? I think the answer to this question has a lot to do with one’s posture and perspective. The Israelites rejected the manna that came on the dew from heaven because it was not what they wanted…even though it was what they needed. Sometimes God’s presence in our lives is a lot like dew. He seems to condense for a time and dwell with us in an almost tangible way, then suddenly he seems to disappear like dew as the sun shines down on it. He is still with us. He is just harder to see and hear. Wells are reliable and they are a place where communities gather with the expectation that they will have water. But the very regularity and reliability of well water can cause us to forget the one who actually owns the well — God. There is a time and place for wells, but they should not lead us to forget or ignore the dew.
Prayer: God help us to seek both the gentle whisper of your spirit and the deep wells of wisdom You provide.