on Psalms 84 :6
Passing through the valley of Baca make it a well - Instead of בכא bacha, a mulberry-tree, seven MSS. have בכה becheh, mourning. I believe Baca to be the same here as Bochim, Judges 2:1-6, called The Valley of Weeping. Though they pass through this barren and desert place, they would not fear evil, knowing that thou wouldst supply all their wants; and even in the sandy desert cause them to find pools of water, in consequence of which they shall advance with renewed strength, and shall meet with the God of Israel in Zion.
The rain also filleth the pools - The Hebrew may be translated differently, and has been differently understood by all the Versions. גם ברכות יעטה מורה gam berachoth yaateh moreh; "Yea, the instructor is covered or clothed with blessings." While the followers of God are passing through the wilderness of this world, God opens for them fountains in the wilderness, and springs in the dry places. They drink of the well-spring of salvation; they are not destitute of their pastors. God takes care to give his followers teachers after his own heart, that shall feed them with knowledge; and while they are watering the people they are watered themselves; for God loads them with his benefits, and the people cover them with their blessings.
on Psalms 84 :6
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
(3) teaching, Isaiah 9:15; 2 Kings 17:28; or a teacher, Isaiah 30:20; Job 36:22.
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.
on Psalms 84 :6
84:6 Baca - A dry valley in the way to Jerusalem, here put for all places of like nature. Make a well - They dig divers little pits or wells in it for their relief. The rain - God recompenses their diligence with his blessing, sending rain wherewith they may be filled.