Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Happiness of a Heart Set on God

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
(Psalm 84:5)
This psalm is all about pilgrimage. In verse 4, we saw the happiness of those who dwell in the house of the LORD. In verse 5, we see the happiness of those who are heading toward that dwelling place. Oh, the happinesses of the one whose heart is set on pilgrimage! The NASB has it as, “In whose heart are the highways to Zion!” These are they who look to the Lord in everything and find their strength in Him. They want more of Him, so they have set their hearts on pilgrimage. His highway runs through the hearts of those whose strength is in Him, and that changes everything:
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
(Psalm 84:7)
Baca is a Hebrew word that literally means “weeping.” Here, it may refer to type of balsam tree that grows in arid regions. The Valley of Baca speaks of dryness, barrenness and sorrow, but when those whose hearts are set on God pass through it, it is transformed. It becomes a place of fountains springing up and becoming wells of blessing. The Hebrew word for “pool” here is berakah, and literally means “blessing.” When we set our heart to know God more, it blesses not only us but also everything around us.

Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 6:38). John tells us that He was speaking of the Holy Spirit. When we put our trust in Jesus and look to Him as our strength and all we need, the Holy Spirit will flow forth from our heart like powerful, life-giving waters.
They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.
(Psalm 84:7)
Happy are those who find their strength in the Lord and set their hearts on Him. They go from strength to strength. That is, the more they get to know Him, the stronger they become. It is not a matter of will power, or some innate human strength; it is the flow of divine power at work in them. Because the strength comes from God, and not from ourselves, each one who sets his heart on this pilgrimage is going to stand in Zion to rejoice before Him. Oh, the happinesses!
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of Hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You.
(Psalm 84:10-12)
One day spent with God is worth more than a thousand spent in any other pursuit. Just to stand at the entrance of His house as a servant is far more rewarding than to dwell luxuriously in the house the wicked. For the Lord is a sun and shield to us — He gives light to our path and protects us on our journey. The Lord gives grace and glory, or as the NIV puts it, “favor and honor.”
No good thing will He withhold from those who walk in rightness. The Bible says that God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be for us, that we might be made the rightness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). When we put our trust in Him, we receive that rightness — we become right with God, and He will not withhold any good thing from us. “He who did not spare His own Son, but deliver Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). As Paul told Timothy, God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Wherever you may be in your journey with the Lord, whether you are just starting out or have been traveling the way for many years, each step you take toward the Lord is a step toward greater strength and deeper happiness.

Happy is the one whose strength is in the Lord, whose heart is set on knowing Him more. Happy is the one who trusts in Him. Guidance, protection, favor, honor, and all good things belong to them, and they will be a blessing wherever they go.