Tears, we all have them, sometimes tears of joy, sometimes tears of grief or sadness. In scripture we see tears in a variety of settings in scripture. Yet they are primarily associated with grief, which we will look at.
5 “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord.” 2 Kings 20:5 (NKJV)
6 I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. Psalm 6:6 (NKJV)
20 My friends scorn me; My eyes pour out tears to God. Job 16:20 (NKJV)
A particular portrait of tears is Jeremiah. He is often referred to as ‘the weeping prophet” for the many tears he shed over the state of Jerusalem. In fact, Jeremiah’s second shorter book is titled ‘Lamentations’ due to all of his tearful laments.
In highlighting the reality of tears, in this case in the Old Testament, we see that the Hebrew people were not stoics. Grief was expressed rather than denied. Yet we also see people moving beyond their tears and in many Psalms, we see laments turn to praise. In this first reference above Hezekiah poured out his heart in tears and received the blessing of health and added years from the Lord. This means that tears can be a place of transition, which brings us to a specific passage in 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, 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. Psalm 84:5–7 (NKJV)
These verses highlight the transition through tears to blessing. Though it isn’t obvious on the surface the reference notes in my bible point out that ‘Baca’ means weeping and ‘pools’ refers to blessings. The Amplified bible puts verse 6 this way,
6 Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings. Psalm 84:6 (AMP)
The passage is about a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a difficult journey and near the end Baca is reached before Zion (the hill of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem). This is another Sons of Korah Psalm where we don’t know the timeframe, pre or post Temple. We do have a clue though in that the first verse literally says ‘dwelling places’ in Hebrew and we know that prior to the Temple of Solomon being constructed there were two dwelling places, the Tabernacle of Moses at Gibeon where the daily sacrifices were offered and the Ark of the Covenant in a tent David set up on Mount Zion with open worship before the ark in His presence. The latter seems to be in view.
What the writers of the psalm are telling us is that when we encounter tears on our journey to His presence they will turn into blessing if our hearts are ‘set on pilgrimage.’ If our focus is on walking in His presence then in this life or the next our tears that come as a result of faithfulness will turn into blessing. I am confident that when I appear before His judgment seat I will have tears as a result of sin, failures and opportunities I have missed. Yet I also know that I will rejoice in His presence with ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’ because for decades my heart has been ‘set on pilgrimage.’ I look forward to the blessing of continually encountering His presence. Tastes here and fullness there. How about you?