Summary: 4 keys for a successful passage through life.

READ: Psalm 84

We began to look at some verses of this Psalm together the last Sunday morning I was preaching, and you may recall that I didn’t finish all that I wanted to share with you and so we return to it again today.

To refresh your memory: This is a “Psalm of Pilgrimage”. It is set in the “glory days” of Israel, when they were a united kingdom with their own land. King David was most likely on the throne when it was written. Every year crowds would flock to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. They would make the journey from every part of the territories occupied by Israel. They would make their pilgrimage to the Holy City to worship at the Temple.

This Psalm is the musing of one unnamed pilgrim as he makes his way up to Jerusalem. He’s longing to get to God’s house - he has this intense desire for the House of God. He longs to be with the company of God’s people, worshipping. We read his heart’s cry in verses 1-2.

This traveller is even jealous of birds ! The Temple courtyards were open to the sky, and the great eaves provided a place for good nesting, so there were always these birds in and around the Temple. The writer exclaims: “Oh, to be one of those birds who can make their homes right there in the House of God.” Verses 3-4. He’s left his work-a-day life behind him. He’s headed up to worship, and he’s just longing for God’s presence.

That is the theme of Psalm 84, set for us in the opening verses. But then we zeroed in, for the focus of our attention, on what follows in verses 5-8. Here we see: “Advice for Travellers”. In order to get “HOME” to God’s presence, the Psalmist knows that there is a JOURNEY to be made. He describes this journey as a “happy” one (“blessed is the man”), because the thought of the destination motivates him. Even through HARSH, difficult, dangerous places - “blessed is the man”.

This is a very clear picture of OUR journey (our pilgrimage) through life. If you look up 1 Peter 1:17, and 2:11 you’ll see that Peter describes the Christian in just exactly these terms: a “sojourner”, a “pilgrim” - literally a “resident alien”. We are passing through this world, our destination is “The Heavenly City” - God’s Eternal Presence. And we do well to remind ourselves of this every day, to keep our priorities straight and true.

Now in these verses, as I began to deal with them last time, we discover that there are 4 Keys For A Successful Passage Through Life. (Would you like to have a successful, victorious journey through life and over into eternity ? Well there are some guiding principles right here - verses 5 to 8).

The first key we looked at already, and it is this:


It’s that first statement of verse 5: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in YOU”. What an all-important key this is; testified to by every page of Scripture.

The Christian life is not merely “hard” - it is IMPOSSIBLE without God’s strength. Jesus, God our Saviour, is both “the author and finisher of our faith”. (Hebrews 12:2). He commences this work of salvation in us, He continues it in us, and He will complete it the first day we stand before God in Eternity. To live this life we MUST have God’s saving strength, His keeping strength, His enabling strength. Our own resources are completely inadequate.

Yet, so often, our greatest battlefield still is about learning to trust Him instead of trying to do it on our own steam. Remember the Zecheriah 4:6 principle: “It’s not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord”.

HOW do we live in God’s strength ? Primarily by our waiting on the Lord. A consistent devotional life - time in God’s Word and in His Presence. “They that WAIT UPON THE LORD (literally) shall RENEW STRENGTH”.

So, the first key for a successful passage through life we looked at was LOOK TO GOD ALONE FOR YOUR STRENGTH. Then the second key we found also in verse 5 is to:


“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, WHOSE HEART IS SET ON PILGRIMAGE.”

Make your lifetime count! We ought not to be people who are just letting life pass us by - being dictated to by our circumstances. We MUST have our eyes on the finish line, but our energies, our heart, our hands and feet ought to be occupied with making the journey count; living for Jesus! Paul wrote: “For me to live is Christ!”

That’s the second key: PUT YOUR HEART INTO THE JOURNEY. Exploit every opportunity that every day brings to grow and develop for the glory of God.

And that’s where we left off. Let’s quickly come now to the last 2 keys for a successful passage through life. The 3rd thing is this:


“Oh, preacher, why do have to mention trials? It’s been inspirational up to now - why spoil it all by talking about trials?!”

Because, friends, it’s right here in the Psalm. In fact, trials are on nearly every page of the Bible. The Bible talks about them a lot, because they are common to every person on the face of the earth. And if some well-meaning person has suggested to you that Christians aren’t supposed to have trials - that we’re never supposed to ever have a cold, that we won’t ever experience sadness or loss, that we shouldn’t ever feel a financial pinch - then I think you should go back to that well-meaning person and invite them to read their Bible through again.

The 3rd key here to knowing a successful passage through life is NOT to pretend trials don’t exist ... but rather to SEE TRIALS AS OPPORTUNITIES. Look with me at verse 6 [Read].

“The Valley of Baca”. “The Valley of Baca”. The Hebrew word “Baca” comes from a root word which means: “to mourn, wail, or lament”. “The Valley of Baca” is literally: “THE VALLEY OF WEEPING”.

Haven’t we all passed through some Valleys of Baca? Some Valleys of Weeping. Haven’t you?

But here it says that, if the Lord is your Strength, and if your heart is set on the journey, you can see the Valley of Weeping become a spring. What to others is a place of bitterness can to you become a place of blessing. A place of growth.

You might like to write this down as something to remember:

“Faith dares to dig blessings out of hardships!”

It might not always be apparent, but the opportunity for growth and blessing is always right there in the middle of the trial. It’s not always easy, but with God’s help, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, we can use trials as OPPORTUNITIES.

a) Opportunities to prove God

b) Opportunities for growth

c) Opportunities to be a shining testimony to others

[ILLUSTRATION]: I received a telephone call just several weeks ago from a lady in a church we used to pastor. She has been through a traumatic time with a very serious and potentially life-threatening illness, and she described to me some of the things she’s gone through in this terrible trial. I told her how sorry I was for her - how I longed for her to be clear of that thing. But she stopped me, almost mid-sentence. She said: “Oh, please pastor NO!” She told me how when it all started she felt devestated, but it caused her to cast herself on God like never before in her Christian life. She said: “I’ve never felt so close to Him. This is eternal life the way I’ve come to know the Lord’s presence.” And she said this: “It’s been a terrible time in many ways - but I wouldn’t trade the blessing this has brought me for the finest health in the world. That’s why I’m calling you pastor ... to tell you that I’m doing fine!”

That’s digging blessing out of hardship! The Valley of Weeping has become a spring for her!

- There is no oil without squeezing the olives,

- No wine without pressing the grapes,

- No fragrance without crushing the flowers.

[ILLUSTRATION]: This week I was reading the story of a man named Worral. He had been stricken with rheumatoid arthritis at age 15 ... by middle age he was totally paralyzed except for 1 finger, could barely speak and was totally blind. But he had a string tied to that one mobile finger that could turn on a tape recorder. By that means he wrote for national magazines, authored books and led a happy and influential life from his bed. It all started because after initial prayers brought no healing, he accepted his lot graciously and said, "Well Lord! If this is the size plot in life you’ve staked out for me, let’s you and me together show the world what we can grow on it."

Now that is an extreme case of trial - one that you and I may find it hard to relate to - but the principle is true even with more common trials. The Valley of Weeping can become a spring of life.

We all love the “mountain top” experiences; times of blessing and sunshine - but where does the fruit grow? You won’t find many orchards on mountain tops - oh, the view is nice up there, BUT THE FRUIT GROWS IN THE VALLEYS! And it’s those trials in our lives that God can use best to bring us on “from glory to glory” by His Spirit.

The question is: WHAT IS YOUR ATTITUDE ? Do you see trials as opportunities? Are you going to let that thing make you bitter or make you better?!

Oh, get it into your spirit ... even tears can be turned into living waters. As Campbell-Morgan once wrote: “Faith digs wells in the driest places and finds that living water.”

Did Joseph see the whole picture of the opportunity that presented itself by his trial - sold into slavery by his brothers - carried off to a foreign land all alone - accuded by Potiphar’s wife and wrongfully imprisoned?! Could he have imagined in his wildest dreams that it would ultimately lead to him becoming Prime Minister of Egypt, and the Saviour of his entire family? I’m quite sure he COULDN’T have seen how God was going to use all his hardship to orchestrate such a wonderful outcome. But I do know that Joseph trusted in the hand of God. He had confidence in the One who does all things well! He did not have a copy of the New Testament - it hadn’t been written yet - but He trusted in the eternal truth of God that we read about in Romans 8:28-29, that “All things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose”!

And this leads us into the fourth, and final, key for a successful passage through life. The third key is SEE THE OPPORTUNITY IN EVERY TRIAL. The last key is to:


He’s ALWAYS in sovereign control. He will never surrender His position on the throne to any person or any thing. He cannot be usurped. He cannot be defied. God is in control!

Let’s read together verse 6 of this great 84th Psalm ... [Read].

Here is the promise of God. The promise of Him who sits on the throne, far above all! If I am (1) looking to God alone for my strength, and (2) if I’ve put my heart into the journey, and (3) I’m looking to see what opportunity God might have in every trial, then the sovereign God will do two things for me:

a) He will direct my steps in strength, and

b) He will bring me right through to my eternal destination

Do you see those 2 things there?

a) He will direct their steps in strength

“they go from strength TO strength”

This is the promise of God. I mentioned it earlier, but let me just pause to read to you from 2 Corinthians 3:18 [Read]. “from glory TO glory”. And Who does it? The Spirit of the Lord. This is the work of God in a person’s life. When you allow the Holy Spirit free reign in your life, you will go from glory to glory. You will grow from strength to strength, until you bear the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Oh, let God do that in your life! Submit to Him, I urge you today.

b) He will bring them through to their destination

“Each one appears before God in Zion (the Holy City)”

This pilgrim Psalmist is just longing to get to Jerusalem - to the House of the Lord. And here is the assurance - God will bring him through, safe all the way.

Can you be sure that you’re going to make it all the way to Heaven? Can you really know? ABSOLUTELY. He IS the Author and the Finisher of our faith! Paul, in the last days of his life, wrote to Timothy, his son in the faith - not words of uncertainty - but a powerful declaration: “I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that (Eternal) day”.


Friends, I don’t want to just limp through life - by the grace of God I want to go from strength to strength! With faith in God I believe I can outgrow my difficulties. I believe YOU can outgrow YOUR difficulties.

Here again are the 4 keys to a successful passage through life, as we see them in Psalm 84: