Monday, July 28, 2014

3 rings of growth God begins in us in times of testing..strengthen series #10

Psalm 84 has long been a favorite for me. The image of the swallow building her nest at His altar invokes peace and trust - but there is more in this power packed group of verses...

No one knows for sure who the author of the psalm is, or the exact time it was written, but many scholars believe as Spurgeon: exhales to us a Davidic perfume, it smells of the mountain heather and the lone places of the wilderness, where King David must have often lodged.
 In verse 6, the psalmist refers to a place called "the valley of Baca".  By using this word, "baca", the author is actually engaging in a little word playIt means weeping, and is also a reference to a type of balsam or mulberry tree which creates the essence of tears as the sap drips from the trunk and solidifies  into a tear shape.  There are several possible literal locations for this valley.   As a poetic reference however, it could refer to any (or all) of the times when David was faced with incredible events and hardship, including the events from here!   And who of us have not travelled through our own "valleys of Baca"? 

Three verses in Psalm 84 reflect the "rings of growth" that are accomplished in "the valley of Baca", the times of testing.  Let's look at them:

5 How blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
            In whose heart are the highways to Zion!

      6 Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring;
            The early rain also covers it with blessings.

      7 They go from strength to strength,
            Every one of them appears before God in Zion.

Zion refers to the act of worship (scroll to the bottom for a little documentation about this).  It can be both literal or figurative, and in either case, the use of the word refers to a heart attitude...that of worship.  So the place that worship holds in our heart is directly related to how we face a test/trial! {click to tweet}.

These are the "rings of growth":

 from strength to strength
Psalm 84:7
from faith to faith
Psalm 84:6; Romans 1:17
from glory to glory
Psalms 84:5; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

In my last post we explored the receiving of strength, so I won't expound anymore here.

When we step out after receiving strength, and see His work on our behalf, our valley of weeping does transform into life giving springs of water.  That is when our faith grows stronger, and we are moved "from faith to faith".  And as faith grows, we lean in closer to Him.

As the transformation continues, through strength, through faith...our inward being develops "paths to Zion"...a pathway* towards Him, created as we continue to choose to "tie ourselves to Him" and behold Him through worship!   And that is the place of being transformed from glory to glory!  Like Moses' face that shone after spending time in the Lord's Presence, our hearts, our words, our actions and our motives absorb and reflect more and more of Him and His ways.  In this, the reflecting of His glory, others can be sparked to hope in their trials as they observe His comfort in yours.

(Remember too, that Hebrew thought is circular - it isn't a direct progression strength, then faith, then glory...all are connected, all will grow simultaneously, but you will notice one or another more at any given time...)

May the sureness of His hand forming 
strength, faith, and glory
sustain you this day...  


Documentation about Zion 
The City of Zion and Mount Zion are really synonymous.  It is a reference to the literal location of the Tabernacle when King David brought it to Jerusalem.  The area where it was placed and where the people of Israel came into the Presence of God was on Mount Moriah, the eventual home of Solomon's Temple.  Since worship is the central activity of the Tabernacle and Temple, Zion has come to be a reference to a place of worship.  In the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews uses the term to make a point about the difference between law and grace.  Of course, David always knew it was the heart of worship that mattered - the location of worship was always, ever, wherever he was...and so it is for us as well!

*  Even a neural pathway develops as certain actions are repeated! Research here, here and here.