The songwriter regards the place as lovely. For him it is a destination of delight, a magnet for his heart’s affection. Just thinking of the place creates such a hunger and thirst within him that it almost saps his strength with longing. It is a place of singing and of great joy. It is a place of refuge and rejoicing. To be there but a day outshines a thousand anywhere else. It is the place where God’s glory dwells. The courts inhabited by the living God. The altars of the LORD of hosts. And blessed are those who have set towards that place highways in their heart.
Blessed are those whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
(Psalm 84:5-7 ESV)
Even a casual reading of Psalm 84 exudes the passion the psalmist has for the presence of God. Where God is, the songwriter wants to be. Who God is, the songwriter desires to know. For what God has done, the songwriter seeks to declare by breaking forth in song at the top of his lungs.
And the songwriter knows that to get to where he so longs to be, it’s going to be a journey. And so, he writes, blessed are those in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
Blessed are those whose internal GPS has been programmed for the dwelling place of the LORD of hosts! Blessed are those whose inner being is locked and loaded on the courts of the Most High God.
And there is no delusion that the road traveled, in order to be where the glory dwells, will be an easy road. In fact, the pilgrim to Zion should expect to go through the Valley of Baca. Baca is a Hebrew word for “weeping.” Those who set their hearts toward knowing God’s glory will encounter the Valley of Tears on their way. Times will be tough. Seasons will seem dark. Weeping may last for a night. But joy comes in the morning! (Ps. 30:5)
Not only do they survive the Baca valleys, there is a sense in which they thrive. Rather than Baca sucking the energy out of them, “they make it a place of springs.” The valley doesn’t define them but they bring life to the valley. In the land of tears the grace of God brings life-giving, life-sustaining rain so that, far from just getting by day-by-day, they in fact grow in vigor as “they go from strength to strength” in anticipation of the surety that “each one appears before God in Zion.”
Though no one wants to travel Baca’s valley, it is not to be dreaded but anticipated. For there too God’s presence is known. There too God’s glory is manifest. There too can be known the joy of resting in His promises.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You! (Psalm 84:12 ESV)
Might the highways of my heart always be set towards the courts of the LORD. If but only to be there as a doorkeeper, would I so long for doorkeeping that everything else falls in line behind the desire. Even knowing that the Valley of Weeping is inevitable, might I be so sure of the promise of dwelling in His house that, even now, songs of praise cannot be restrained.
All because of grace. All by His grace.
All in anticipation of the glory. All for His glory.