Yesterday at church, we had a great time of worship led by one of our fantastic worship leaders. The first song we sang was “Blessed” by Darlene Zschech and Reuben Morgan. It starts like this:
Blessed are those who dwell in your house
They are ever praising you
Blessed are those whose strength is in You
Whose hearts are set on our God
We will go from strength to strength
Until we see you face to face
That last line struck me when I realized I wasn’t sure what I was singing. What does “strength to strength” mean? I began searching my handy ESV study bible and found that the lyrics to this song are taken from Psalm 84, which is about the people of Israel going to the temple to worship the Lord. You should really read the whole thing for yourself, but the key verses are four through seven:
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
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.
They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
As the Israelites are on this journey to the temple, the Lord gives them more and more strength so they can come and worship him. I wanted to see where else this kind of language showed up in Scripture, so I followed the cross references to 2 Corinthians 3:18:
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t really see the connection, but both of these passages are about the process of coming to Christ. We don’t just get transformed once in our lives, but we are “being transformed” while we see the glory of the Lord. Through our lives, as we look to Jesus, we start to look more and more like him in increasing degrees of glory. Being a Christian is not just about saying a prayer once, but about becoming more like Jesus. Yes, we need to come to Christ and be forgiven of our sins once and for all, but the process of living out our new lives takes, well, a lifetime.
The Israelites couldn’t store up enough strength for the trip to Jerusalem before they left; they needed to keep getting renewed along the way. In the same way, we cannot try to live the Christian life on “stored strength”, but on the ever increasing strength that Christ provides along the way. So if you’re feeling weak or like the journey is just too hard, look to Jesus. Someday we will worship Him face to face, but until then let Him transform you and He will give you strength upon strength to keep going.