What is the valley of Baca?

The Valley of Baca is mentioned in Psalm 84 which was composed by David. He likely wrote this specific psalm when he was exiled from Jerusalem. This psalm describes the blessedness of relying on God for strength and joy during hardship (v. 5-8). It also tells of the longing to be with God one day in His Sanctuary and the blessings there (vs. 1–4, 9–11).

Psalm 84

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the Valley of Baca

they make it a place of springs;

the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;

each one appears before God in Zion” (Psalm 84:5–7, ESV).

The meaning of the word “baca”

The Hebrew word “baca” is related to bakah, which means “to weep.” The LXX and the Vulgate translate the phrase “valley of Baca” as “valley of tears.” Elsewhere baka’ is translated “mulberry tree” (2 Sam. 5:23). A mulberry tree is known as a weeping tree, but also one that brings forth mulberries, a delicious fruit.

The Valley of Baca was likely a literal place located near Jerusalem. It may have been the valley of Rephaim (2 Samuel 5:18) or the Valley of Achor (Joshua 7:24). The exact location is not certain, however, it was indeed a valley or a low point in terrain.

Thus, the valley of Baca was a low point of tears or weeping that can bring forth good fruit.

The symbolism in Psalm 84

This psalm is symbolic to God’s people who are pilgrims on the path to the heavenly Zion.  David wrote this as an encouragement to those who are going through a valley, or low point, in their lives.

He understood from personal experience that life will have valleys of sadness or tears. However, those who put their trust in God can find hope, strength and joy in the Lord.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84: 11).

Examples of the faithful

True believers can receive comfort and be a blessing even during sad experiences of life. In their darkest hours, many of God’s “pilgrims” have allowed Him to turn the “valley of tears” into a well of blessing (Isaiah 35). Every display of power in the path has given them more vigor for the next step of the pilgrimage. We see this in many stories in the Bible, such as in the lives of Joseph and Daniel.

There have also been many others after biblical times who have demonstrated this faith. For example, John Bunyan spent 12 years in jail due to him preaching the gospel. During that experience, he became a spring of blessing to others as he used that time to write of his classical masterpiece, “Pilgrim’s Progress.” This book has led many to a relationship with Christ.

Another example is Corrie ten Boom who was a Christian woman during world war II. She and her sister opened their home to provide a hiding place to Jews, as well as others, from the Nazis. Eventually, she and her family were arrested and sent to a concentration camp where her sister died. During her time in the camp, she smuggled in a Bible and spread the gospel to many there. Upon her release, she spent her life helping people and sharing the gospel. She began traveling and speaking about her experience and eventually came face to face with one of the guards in the camp who was very cruel to her sister. She forgave him publicly and wrote about forgiveness.  Later, she wrote a book called, “The Hiding Place” which shares details of her experience. Through all of her trials, she demonstrated deep trust in God.

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”-Corrie ten Boom. 

God doesn’t ignore our tears

While God does not desire us to suffer. However, we are allowed to go through hardships in this life. These trials are meant to prepare our hearts for heaven and to glorify God (Isaiah 48:10, 1 Peter 1:7). David also writes, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). A valley of Baca, or period of sadness, can bring forth something good in the end. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5).

Paul expounded on this when he wrote, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). It doesn’t say that everything that happens to us is good. Rather, it says that all things can work together for good when we trust God and allow Him to use our lives, and even our trials, for the good of others. We can have joy knowing that one day our “baca” or tears will be over and we will be with God in heaven forever.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:4).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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