A place of refreshing springs…” Willows growing by the side of the Newbridge Brook between Weobley and Dilwyn.
Image credit: Ian Greig

Thought for the day

Psalm 84:5-6
What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs.

On a walk, what we see in the distance can be quite different when we get close. Similarly in life, our reaction to what we see can change dramatically, when we get a different perspective. This is a story of how what appears one way, can turn out differently.

At certain times of year, groups would set out to Jerusalem to celebrate a festival at the Temple. They would walk on bad roads with hills, valleys and dangerous ravines, and they probably gave them nick-names, like we do.The psalm writer’s Valley of Weeping (Hebrew baka) could also be called the Valley of Poplars, a double meaning not lost on the original hearers.

  • Poplars grow close to water — so travellers in a dry, dusty country who saw poplars on the horizon would anticipate being able to drink.

  • There’s a deeper meaning here. The ones “walking through the Valley of Weeping” , are “on a pilgrimage“. So this is a picture of believers on a journey of faith, who (like all of us at times) have hit difficulties. Sometimes difficult times can be dry times — a sense of abandonment, nothing coming from the Lord, no fresh direction. The Valley of Weeping is the right name.
  • But the Valley of Weeping can be turned into the Valley of Poplars, and there’s running water in that valley. There’s a place to drink and be refreshed.

  • The place of “refreshing springs” is where the “times of refreshing” start, Acts 3:19. The psalm points to God’s greater purpose, which is always to bring spiritual renewal.

Those whose strength comes from the Lord” are the ones “on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem” — walking with the Lord and knowing their destiny with Him. “For you,” the psalmist says, “the valley of tears will become the place of refreshing. Why? Because when we come to the end of ourselves with the Lord, we can find Him in a new way. He’ll let us struggle on for a time, but only so we find the place of refreshing — which we always do if we turn to Him.

The psalm holds out that exact promise.

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