Forward & Upward: Part Seven, “From Strength to Strength”
Psalm 71:18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.
Psalm 84:5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca [tears], They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion.
It is fitting that we conclude this series on Forward and Upward on the last Sunday of our Psalms Devotional and in Black History month. We often say that history is “His-Story.” We are the descendants of people who overcame impossible obstacles, went from strength to strength, and still left a legacy of provision for others.
Rudy Bridges was such a person, who made history at the age of six years old.
It’s one thing to do someting for yourself. It’s another thing to do something that benefits the lives of others. As David said, Psalm 71:18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.
A PILGRIM moves with purpose to leave a legacy. A TRAVELER just wants to enjoy the view and have a good time. Both are moving. Are you a pilgrim or a traveler?
The western, europeon, American mindset is, ”I think therefore I am. The African and Hebrew mindset is, ”I am because we are. I'm nothing without my people"
David approaching everything from the perspective of a worshipper and a victor, not just as a victim. He looked to the Lord for help.
V. 5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
God is your source. Your strength is in Him as your source, not in your resources.
V. 5 Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
A pilgrim is someone moving on a specific mission for God. We can use the word “trailblazer.” A traveller may only be someone moving for pleasure. In context, the jewish people were often on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate days of feats or “appointed times” in the presence of the Lord.
V. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca [tears]
The journey was sometimes difficult because the of the desert environment and hardships such as drought along the way. This is the point at which travelers become “unhappy”, lose their will to continue, and drop off. A traveler is all about having a good time. A pilgrim or trailblazer is all about purpose and God’s purposes in particular.
This “Valley of Baca” is oftentimes a “Valley of tears” because of the anguish and hardship.
V. 6 They make it a spring;
Some translations render this verse, “They make a well or wells.” The idea is that they didn’t just suffer through it. The did something about it. They dug wells or made cisterns to collect rain water and heavy dew. You might think, “how could that help them if they were in need of water?”
Here is where the legacy part comes in: They did not make the well for themselves. They made for others who would follow them!
A lot of us pilgrims don’t get the opportunity to benefit from their own labors. A true trailblazer is building paths and opportunities for those who follow. This is what people in the generation of Dr. Martin Luther King did, and people in every generation have done. This is what I do.
One commentator wrote: “This trouble they willingly undertook, rather than to neglect the opportunity of going up to Jerusalem at their solemn times. And possibly they did this, not only for themselves, but for the benefit of other travellers who came after them; whereby they showed both their piety and charity.”
V. 6 The rain also covers it with pools.
God (Our Source) fills the wells and cisterns with water to create a resources for those who follow.
V. 7 They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion
This is the highest hope of every pilgrim and trailblazer: That those who follow will experience strength for their journey, and become a trailblazer for others; “Strength to strength." These are things that mere travelers cannot do. A traveler is focused on more on himself than on others.
The prophetic words of Isaiah 61 describe the mission of the ultimate Pilgrim and Trailblazer, Our Lord Jesus Christ. One a day when He was in the synagogue, he stood up to read and he was given the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He found this place and read the following:
1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified