NIV - Blessed are those whose strength is in the Lord, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the valley of Baca 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.
LIV - Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who want above all else to follow your steps. When they walk through the valley of weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after the rains. They will grow constantly in strength and each of them is invited to meet with the Lord in Zion.
AMP - Passing through the valley of weeping they make it a place of springs, the early rains fill the pools with blessings.
The Valley of Baca was a dry valley which was at the end of the wilderness just before Jerusalem. The pilgrims who made their way to Jerusalem for the annual festivals and who came from the other side of the wilderness, would have arrived at this valley after a long journey through the dry and dusty dessert. If they were one of the first pilgrims to the festivals, they would have had to dig wells in the valley in order to get water as by now, after their long journey, they would probably have run out of water both for themselves and for their animals. If they were not one of the first pilgrims, they would have arrived in the valley and would have found the wells which had already been dug by their predecessors.
In the King James Version, Baca is translated as Valley of Weeping. This is to illustrate the fact that arriving at this point after having crossed the desert which was tough, would have left many of the travelers exhausted and dispirited. When the people came out of the country to worship at the feasts, they had to come through many a dry and sandy valley where they could easily perish for thirst.
For those pilgrims traveling the other way and leaving Jerusalem, it was the last place of rest and water before attempting the long and hazardous trek back across the desert to their homes. In other words, it's a place which would turn people's minds to the hardships of life.
When reading this passage there are a number of interesting facts which we need to consider. Firstly the allusion to weeping and times of difficulty. Secondly there is the fact of us being involved in a pilgrimage. Thirdly leaving behind wells for those that come after us. And finally there is the exhortation to have strength.
1. Weeping and the times of difficulty.
It is a fact of life that there are going to be difficulties and disappointments and that throughout our lifetime we are going to encounter times when we are reduced to tears. However if we magnify hardship or dwell on it too long, then we will never go on, nor go through with anything. Eccl 11:4 - Whoever watches the wind will not sow and whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. Some ...
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