Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
The highways of the heart are always taking us somewhere. We visit the places most frequently which we trust will continue to strengthen us to keep driving. We travel to the valleys of our heart which we believe will open up into green pastures of living water.
Sometimes we visit poisonous springs and desolate valleys, however. The highways of our hearts have carved paths to tepid, stagnant ponds which satisfy at first but wreak havoc later. Strength can never come from poison. The closest pond is usually pride. At the first sign of weakness we quickly run to this foul place and imbibe what we think will cure our sense of weakness and incompetence.
Further down that highway is the lake of self-centeredness. This lake is fed by the pond of pride above and shoots out branches of self-pity, narcissism, and thoughtlessness. The waters of this lake can be addicting. Those who have traveled here from the pond of pride tend to stay for a while. The water is sweeter and fulfilling, at least for a while.
Beyond that lake is the gulf of fear and the falls of anger, each with its own deceptive lure. These are all tainted waters that will give the traveler some sense of relief.
These travelers, these highways are not blessed. Blessed are those in whose heart are the highways to Zion. The highways to Zion are surrounded by glorious springs that are pure and sweet. They are ever new and life-giving. They flush out the poisonous water from other ponds and give strength and health to the traveler.
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
Baca means “weeping.” The highway to Zion sometimes dips through the Valley of Baca. Other roads promise smoother rides and better scenery, but they have poisoned water along the way and a hellish destination. All roads wind through the Valley of Baca from time to time. Only on the highway to Zion are there springs to strengthen and refresh the traveler. There is rain that comes from above, quenching the thirsty traveler at just the right moment.
They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
The water never runs out along the highway to Zion. Each spring gives enough strength to get to the next one. The final destination is the source of all life-giving water, the fountain of life. He reigns from Zion and calls to the travelers. Those who have ears to hear will listen and follow his voice to path to Zion. They will find in him their source of strength and will know blessing and life.
When they forget what road they’re on and try to drink from the poisoned ponds again, the sickness returns quickly. The waters never taste as good in those places, but the paths are well worn to those ponds and easier to find. The taste can be overlooked if the path is easier to walk on. It seemed to satisfy once before. No. The one who calls from Zion will always bring his pilgrims back to the path. When he calls, they answer. He never loses one whom he calls.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, God of Zion, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.