Baca is a valley of Weeping. It’s a dry valley.
This Psalm is about people who have determined to seek a deeper relationship with God. These are people who long, above all else, to be living ‘in the courts of the Lord’ (verse 2). They know that God’s presence is a totally safe place and they won’t be distracted or diverted. They will keep on, as pilgrims, through the dry parched places, the scorching heat and even through the place of despair to get there.
Amazingly, as they go, weeping, their tears water the valley floor. And from these tears fresh water springs well up and the puddles make the valley fruitful.
Years ago, I remembered reading this psalm. I was arrested by it then, because I knew God had put within me something of that heart for pilgrimage, and at that time I was in a bad patch where things were hard, and felt totally barren. But I was also fascinated and puzzled:
As a school leaver, I had spent my gap year between school and university as a VSO (with Voluntary Service Organisation) teaching in Lebanon. I knew nothing at that time about the biblical reference to the Baca Valley. But I did know that the Baca Valley in Lebanon was a place where the most wonderful bunches of cherries were produced. I still have photographs of those cherries. The Baca is Lebanon’s most productive farming region.
It is out of the times of barrenness, of parched land and scorching heat, as we go on through, set on pilgrimage into deeper places with God, that our tears water the land and make it a place of fruit and huge productivity.
Another psalm, 126, has the same thought in a different way:
"He who goes forth bearing seed and weeping [at needing his precious grain for sowing] shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." (Psalm 126:6 Amp).
Whoa! Isn’t that great! It takes faith to plant my precious seed in the ground when it’s the last I have. But God is a God of faithfulness. He knows about every last seed I faithfully sow into His kingdom, whatever the cost. He rewards faith, and He sees that heart for pilgrimage within me. He is my strength.
And He releases the fruit we could never have imagined: fruit that comes out of the hard times and the long haul.
Prayer: Thank You, God, for those precious safe places where we can dwell so safely and securely with You. Thank You that You are our strength. Thank You that You know all about those hard times in our lives, and You bring fruitfulness, as we keep on trusting in You. Amen.