As they go through the Valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs. (Psalm 84:6a) It’s poetry, this verse. No surprise there; everyone knows that the Bible has in it all different kinds of literature. But now and again something I read takes up residence in my mind and wants to stay.
This wants to stay. As they go through the Valley…not of the shadow of death, this time, but of weeping or—depending on the translation—of Baca. The Valley of Baca. It’s an actual place in Israel, I have learned, a valley whose name comes from a type of balsam tree that grows there, which “weeps” teardrop-like resin. Human beings of all times and places know the shape, do they not? of teardrops?
I am sure that preachers as well as poets have fastened on the allegorical rather than the literal. I do, too, can’t help it–as when one of my grandsons was born and I mentioned to his parents that both the names they had chosen—Ethan and David–represented musicians in the Bible. “Mom, we just liked the name,” my son said. It was too early to know if Ethan David would take up the lute and harp.
Yes, I am sure that preachers, especially, find here that those whose strength is in God can live through a time of sorrow and make it a place of springs. Ah, it is poetry. In my experience, we poor humans cannot actually make a spring. Instead, we discover it, uncover it, get down on our knees to brush away old dead leaves and twigs to see bubbling up what has been there all along, the wellspring of living water—and rejoice in it and rest beside it for a time before we continue on our way. Going from strength to strength, the Bible says, in that poetic way it has.