Ever had spurts of spiritual growth, with a few mountaintop highs sprinkled in, followed by a long desert season? Or reached a low point where it seemed your prayers weren’t hitting the ceiling? Or have you ever been so low that you couldn’t even voice a prayer?
In those desert times, it could be that you’ve reached the Valley of Baca. And in the Valley of Baca is the opportunity for deep instruction and revival.
Baca was an arid desert spot on the way to Jerusalem: the place of peace. Baca can be translated as “weeping.” In one of my favorite Psalms, we find a reference to the Valley of Baca. A modern composer has put portions of this Psalm to music, and every time I read this chapter the tune runs through my head, and the content of the Psalm leads me to a sacred place of worship.
Psalm 84 has been put to music many times, because it was actually used as a praise song for those making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship in the temple. My ESV study Bible footnote says:
“The purpose of singing this Psalm is to cultivate that delight, to open the eyes and hearts of God’s people to the staggering privilege of being a welcome guest in God’s own house and to write deep into their souls the conviction that wickedness offers no reward that can even remotely compare to the joy and pleasure of God’s own house.”
I love how Scripture regularly combines poetical, symbolic language with literal narrative. We can find principles to apply to our lives now in the symbolic metaphors and there are lessons we can learn from the literal historic events.
Refreshed in the Desert
As God’s people made pilgrimages to the temple in Jerusalem, they went through an arid region known as the Valley of Baca. But they made it a place of springs. They refreshed themselves—even in the desert.
I believe the key to finding refreshment and spiritual revival in the Valley of Baca can be discovered in the second verse of the Psalm:
“My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (emphasis mine)
I’ve traveled through that spiritual desert region many times. There have been times when I’ve been stuck there for weeks. There is no more miserable place for a believer to be than seeking the Word, needing to hear from God, wanting to sense His presence, but feeling lifeless and abandoned.
We may feel abandoned—but He never leaves nor forsakes His own. We may feel lifeless, but He’s not a liar, and He doesn’t take back the life He gives.
Sing for Joy to the Living God
You may be longing, even fainting, to be in His presence, to sense Him working . . . but you’re seeing nothing. It seems as though God is not there.
Take to heart this instruction: Sing for joy to the living God.
Move beyond what you feel, what you sense, beyond the parched desert, and make a spring of refreshment by literally singing praise to the living God.
You may not be a singer. It doesn’t matter. Crank up the car stereo, plug in your iPod, or just let out a song from your heart with no accompaniment. Any way you can, lift up a sound of praise to God. Something supernatural happens when we’re in the hard places of despair and we sing to Him.
I can’t explain it, but it’s a literal turning of my heart, a surge of joy occurs when I start singing out notes of true worship to Him.
My heart and soul are refreshed and I’m ready to plunge back into the journey. I’m strengthened to tackle what lies ahead—and so were the pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem.
Look what follows the singing:
“They go from strength to strength (v. 7).”
I believe there is a direct connection between singing to God and personal spiritual revival. There is a connection between singing and the igniting of our faith. And isn’t faith what we need most when our circumstances are screaming to us to just “Give up?” When darkness closes in and we believe the lie that God has abandoned us, faith is what we must grab onto.
Sing. Sing to Him. Sing to the One who is worthy of your song of worship.
Are you needing strength today? Running low on faith? Thirsty for some refreshment?
How about pausing now to sing your favorite worship song back to Your Savior?