How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord ; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you. – Psalm 84:1-12
This is an interesting and somewhat perplexing passage. The water reference comes as the psalm is describing who is “blessed”- “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.” I have prayed and chewed on this passage and I am not sure I understand it yet, but here is what I am thinking at the moment.
The part about those who find strength in God being blessed makes sense and it also makes sense that those who are set on a pilgrimage are blessed. I think what is being described here are God-seekers, or “children of the burning heart” as A.W. Tozer would put it. Then comes the confusing riffle in the passage. As these blessed children of the burning heart are passing through the Valley of Baka they “make it a place of springs”.
I have always thought of springs as existing or in some cases coming into existence by a miraculous intervention from God, but this passage seems to suggest that by their very faith and “pilgrimage” the springs become prominent. The only way this makes sense to me is if the springs are really there all the time, but they are hidden from those who are not “blessed” or seeking after God. If the hidden springs are a metaphor for the spiritual kingdom of God then this passage is really saying that seekers after God can find springs of living water not visible to those who are not seeking God.
The second part about “autumn rains also cover it with pools” is also confusing as it seems to suggest that God will provide pools of water even when we are not seeking and as a part of the natural spiritual cycle. I am not sure I understand this portion of the passage and how it relates to the springs.
The passage goes on to describe these “blessed” people as going from strength to strength on their way to appearing before God in Zion (going to heaven?). I take this to mean that their faith provides them with strength and endurance to finish the race that Paul talks about in the new testament (2 Timothy 4:7). Then comes some interesting parts of the passage about why going to God in Zion is desirable “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” — better to be a doorkeeper in the house of God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
I take this last part to mean that the blessed seekers that the passage is describing must possess both a boldness to find hidden springs and the willingness to hold the door to God’s kingdom if that is what is required of us – A tension-filled combination of hubris and humility.
Prayer: God grant us the boldness to seek hidden springs of living water and the humility to place ourselves completely in your hands.