New American Standard Bible
Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings.
King James Bible
Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools.
Darby Bible Translation
Passing through the valley of Baca, they make it a well-spring; yea, the early rain covereth it with blessings.
World English Bible
Passing through the valley of Weeping, they make it a place of springs. Yes, the autumn rain covers it with blessings.
Young's Literal Translation
Those passing through a valley of weeping, A fountain do make it, Blessings also cover the director.
Psalm 84:6 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
Who passing through the valley of Baca - This is one of the most difficult verses in the Book of Psalms, and has been, of course, very variously interpreted. The Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, Luther, and Professor Alexander, render it a valley of tears. The word "Baca" (בכא bâkâ') means properly weeping, lamentation; and then it is given to a certain tree - not probably a mulberry tree, but some species of balsam - from its weeping; that is, because it seemed to distil tears, or drops of balsam resembling tears in size and appearance. It is translated mulberry trees in 2 Samuel 5:23-24; 1 Chronicles 14:14-15; and so in the margin here, "mulberry trees make him a well." There is no reason, however, to think that it has that meaning here. The true rendering is, "valley of lamentation," or weeping; and it may have reference to some lonely valley in Palestine - where there was no water - a gloomy way - through which those commonly passed who went up to the place of worship. It would be vain, however, to attempt now to determine the locality of the valley referred to, as the name, if ever given to it, seems long since to have passed away. It may, however, be used as emblematic of human life - "a vale of tears;" and the passage may be employed as an illustration of the effect of religion in diffusing happiness and comfort where there was trouble and sorrow - as if fountains should be made to flow in a sterile and desolate valley.
Make it a well - Or, a fountain. That is, It becomes to the pilgrims as a sacred fountain. They "make" such a gloomy valley like a fountain, or like a road where fountains - full, free, refreshing - break forth everywhere to invigorate the traveler. Religious worship - the going up to the house of God - turns that in the journey of life which would otherwise be gloomy and sad into joy; makes a world of tears a world of comfort; has an effect like that of changing a gloomy path into one of pleasantness and beauty. The idea here is the same which occurs in Isaiah 35:7, "And the parched ground shall become a pool" (see the notes at that passage); and in Job 35:10, "Who giveth songs in the night" (see the notes at that passage); an idea which was so beautifully illustrated in the case of Paul and Silas in the jail at Philippi, when, at midnight they "sang praises to God" Acts 16:25, and which is so often illustrated in the midst of affliction and trouble. By the power of religion, by the presence of the Saviour, by the influence of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, such times become seasons of purest joy - times remembered ever afterward with most fervent gratitude, as among the happiest periods of life. For religion can diffuse smiles over faces darkened by care; can light up the eye sunk in despondency; can change tears of sorrow into tears of joy; can impart peace in scenes of deepest sorrow; and make the most gloomy vales of life like green pastures illuminated by the brightness of noonday.
The rain also filleth the pools - Margin, "covereth." This is a still more difficult expression than the former. The Septuagint and the Vulgate render it, "The teacher - the lawgiver - ὁ νομοθετῶν ho nomothetōn - "legislator" - gives blessings." Luther, "The teachers shall be adorned with many blessings." Gesenius, "Yea, with blessings the autumnal rain doth cover it." DeWette, "And with blessing the harvest-rain covers it," which he explains as meaning," Where they come, though it would be sorrow and tears, yet they are attended with prosperity and blessing." Professor Alexander, "Also with blessings is the teacher clothed." The word rendered "rain" - מורה môreh - is from ירה yârâh, to throw, to cast, to place, to sprinkle, and may denote
(1) an archer;
(2) the early rain
It is rendered rain, in the place before us; and former rain twice in Joel 2:23 (margin, a teacher). The word rendered "filleth" means properly to cover, and would be fitly so translated here. Compare Leviticus 13:45; Ezekiel 24:17, Ezekiel 24:22. The word has not naturally the idea of filling. The word rendered "pools" - ברכות berâkôth - if pointed in one manner - ברכה berêkâh (in the singular) - denotes a pond, pool, or basin of water; if pointed in another manner - ברכה berâkâh - it means blessing, benediction, and is often so used in the Scriptures, Genesis 27:12; Genesis 28:4; Genesis 33:11; Proverbs 11:11,...The rendering of Gesenius, as above, "Yea, with blessings the autumnal rain doth cover it," (that is, the valley so desolate in the heat of summer - the valley of weeping), would perhaps be the most natural, though it is not easy to see the connection according to this interpretation, or according to any other proposed.
Least of all is it easy to see the connection according to the translation of the Septuagint, the Vulgate, Luther, and Prof. Alexander. Perhaps the connection in the mind of the author of the psalm may have been this. He sees the sterile and desolate valley through which the pilgrims are passing made joyous by the cheerfulness - the happiness - the songs - of those who are on their way to the house of God. This fact - this image - suggests to him the idea that this is similar to the effect which is produced in that valley when copious rains descend upon it, and when, though commonly desolate, it is covered with grass and flowers, or is "blessed" by the rain. This latter image is to his mind an illustration of the happy scene now before him in the cheerful and exulting movements of the pilgrims on their way to the house of God. The one suggests the other; and the psalmist has a combined image before his mind, the one illustrating the other, and both showing how a vale naturally desolate and sterile may be made cheerful and joyous.
'O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee.' --PSALM lxxxiv. 12. In my last sermon from the central portion of this psalm I pointed out that the Psalmist thrice celebrates the blessedness of certain types of character, and that these threefold benedictions constitute, as it were, the keynotes of the portions of the psalm in which they respectively occur. They are these: 'Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house'; 'Blessed is the man in whose heart are the ways'; and this final one, …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
11TH DAY. After Grace, Glory.
Letter Xlvi (Circa A. D. 1125) to Guigues, the Prior, and to the Other Monks of the Grand Chartreuse
He changes a wilderness into a pool of water And a dry land into springs of water;
Is it not yet just a little while Before Lebanon will be turned into a fertile field, And the fertile field will be considered as a forest?
So rejoice, O sons of Zion, And be glad in the LORD your God; For He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, The early and latter rain as before.
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