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Blessed Is the One...

September 29, 2017
By Jerry Keehner, Upper School Principal

Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose hearts are highways. As they pass through the valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; also the early rain covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. (Psalm 84:4-7)

Last week we saw that one who is blessed by God takes care about where he walks. He carefully chooses his path so that he doesn't find himself taking advice from those who despise God, eventually listening to that advice as a habit, and finally joining them in the seat of scoffers. In Psalm 84, we see the opposite perspective: those blessed by God (ashrey) desire to dwell in God's house. It's interesting that the word "dwell" here is the same Hebrew word as "sit" in Psalm 1. The psalmists are giving us a clear choice: dwell in the seat of scoffers, or dwell in God's house, ever singing His praise.

We aren't called merely to sit there, though. We are to give thought to how we get there. That is what verses 5-7 tell us. First, we are to find our strength in God. Only in Him can we make it through this valley of tears that the world so often is.

Second, because our hearts long to be with God, they should pull us in that directon. The psalm tells us that in our hearts are highways (literally, a road for pilgrimages). Most English translations capture this by adding "to Zion." If we are blessed by God, the highways in our hearts lead us, as if by pilgrimage, directly to Him.

Of course, that is not the whole story. The final verses of this passage tell of our impact on those around us as we travel the pilgrimage road. As we pass through the Valley of Baca (literally, the Valley of Tears), it becomes a place of abundant life: instead of a desert, it is full of springs and the blessing of rain. Not only does God's blessing transform us, it allows us to be agents of transformation for those around us who might be suffering!

We can go from strength to strength, not because we are strong, but because our strength is in our God who sustains us. Finally, when our road is done, we will appear before God.

Living in Psalm 84 Today

How can we live in light of this psalm today? First, by remembering that we don't have the strength to do anything of significance on our own. Most importantly, that applies to relationships. Comparing the thoughts from Psalm 1 with those of Psam 84, we can either be those who distract others from the road to God (by giving ungodly advice, encouraging sinful thoughts and actions, or just scoffing at righteousness), or we can be those who bless others.

When we bless others, we are taking up the role of the ashrey, those who have already been blessed by God. When we encourage others who are suffering, living in the Valley of Tears, we are taking up our calling to be a blessing to others, to serve them before worrying about ourselves. We don't do it because it somehow benefits us; we do it because of our love for them and for God.

What might our school be like if each of us saw our relational roles in this way? We could care for others, not being troubled that we are weary travelers, but instead stopping to bring a moment of abundant life to someone who is more than weary, who is weeping. That is worth being passionate about.

Posted in Upper School