Scripture reading: 2 Samuel 5:17-25 and 2 Samuel 23:13-17
In Psalm 84, our sermon text from Sunday, we heard of pilgrims who had to travel through the “valley of Baca” — literally a dry place filled with balsam trees, or figuratively, a valley of weeping. How were they able to make it through the distractions and challenges of such a challenging place? Certainly they kept the vision of God’s glory before them. But they also kept their friends around them. 2 Samuel 5 and 23 show us how our friends can offer us sustenance and encouragement.
In 2 Samuel 5, David is on the run from the Philistines, hiding in the stronghold hear Rephaim, in the valley of balsam trees, a literal valley of Baca. Later, 2 Samuel 23 looks back on that long wait, and gives us a sneak peak into the misery of it. He’s in a cave, he’s thirsty, and he’s homesick — he wants some water from his hometown well. His mighty men spring into action in a stunning display of faithfulness, loyalty, and strength, risking their lives to secure him a drink. At this, David is humbled, and his perspective is renewed. He waits upon the LORD and eventually gets the command of God to attack the Philistines through the balsam trees. David obeys; God is faithful; the enemy is defeated; the people are restored.
What can we learn from this vignette? When David is tempted to despair in the dry valley, his loyal companions bring him refreshment and perspective. Similarly, our friends can help us when we are tempted by circumstances and counterfeits. As we saw in Psalm 84, the church is one of the ways we can enjoy God’s heavenly blessings here on earth.
So, when you are distracted by fear, anger, pride, or pain, call on your friends. Ask them to remind you of the Gospel. Ask them to help bring you cheer. Ask them to help bear your burdens. Ask them to help you focus on Christ. Lean on the church to help you attend to God in the midst of distraction, because we were never meant to travel alone:
“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.” (Psalm 84:5–6)
— What circumstances or counterfeits tend to distract you from your spiritual growth?
— Are you in the habit of talking with Christian friends about your spiritual needs? If you aren’t, name one friend you could connect with this week to help you in your journey.