“As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a source of springwater; even the autumn rain will cover it with blessings” (Ps. 84:6).
The location of the Valley of Baca is unknown and mentioned only here in Scripture. The word baca means “balsam” but is also the Hebrew verb for “weep.” (The balsam tree “weeps” its resin.) So we can translate “the Valley of Baca” as “the valley of weeping.” It’s possible this wasn’t an actual geographical location but figurative. Warren Wiersbe describes the Valley of Baca as “any difficult and painful place in life, where everything seems hopeless and you feel helpless, like ‘the pit of despair.’”
Those who trust and worship God may expect to pass through the valley of weeping. The operative words in that statement are “pass through.” The valley of weeping is a place through which we pass; it is not where God’s people permanently dwell.
The focus of Psalm 84 is the delight of worship. It is a psalm of worshipers longing to be at the temple in Jerusalem. On the journey there, however, they pass through the valley of weeping. Pay attention to who the “they” are in verse 6:
- They are “people whose strength is in [God], whose hearts are set on pilgrimage” (v. 5).
- They “long and yearn” to be in God’s presence (v. 2).
- They “cry out for the living God” (v. 2).
- They “would rather stand at the threshold of the house of … God than live in the tents of wicked people” (v. 10).
- They know God as their “sun and shield” and “live with integrity” (v. 11).
- They put their trust in “the Lord of Armies” (v. 12).
Because their eyes are focused on God, they see the valley of weeping not as a place of despair but as a place to experience the Lord’s faithfulness even more deeply (v. 6; compare 2 Cor. 12:9-10).
There are other valleys mentioned in Scripture through which we may pass
The valley of darkness — “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me” (Ps. 23:4). God is with us when we walk through dark valleys of uncertainty. Therefore, we are not afraid.
The valley of trouble — The Lord spoke through Hosea concerning His wayward people: “I will … make the Valley of Achor into a gateway of hope” (Hos. 2:15). The word “Achor” means “trouble” and here is a reference to the place where Achan sinned by taking plunder from Jericho (Josh. 7:25). God meets us in the valley of rebellion and brokenness to call us back to Himself. Therefore, we have hope.
Aren’t you glad God is Lord not only of the mountains but also of our valleys?
Don’t make the mistake the Arameans made in 1 Kings 20. They considered Israel’s God to be “a god of the mountains and not a god of the valleys” (v. 28). Believing God’s power was limited to the mountains, the Arameans attacked the Israelites on the plains near the city of Aphek. Though the Israelites were vastly outnumbered there, God gave His people victory over their enemies—revealing Himself to be Lord not only of the mountains, but of the plains and valleys too.
If we don’t see God as Lord of the valleys as well as the mountaintops, then our view of God is too small.
What’s your view from the valley?
Mike Livingstone is a content editor at Lifeway for Explore the Bible resources.