top of page

Springs in the Desert

Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.” – Psalm 87:7 (NRSV)

The Bible needs to be read with desert eyes. Only if we remember that much of it was written by people who lived where the average yearly rainfall is less than 8 inches can we understand how they experienced God’s presence, especially through the gift of water.

Thanksgiving for that gift echoes throughout the biblical texts – from the 23rd Psalm’s affirmation that God leads us by still waters to Revelation’s proclamation, “Let the one who is thirsty come, let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (22:17). Water is not only the source of all life; it is also the source of cleansing, healing, and new life.

Small wonder then that the pilgrimage song, Psalm 87, ends with the joyous affirmation, “All my springs are in you.” The psalm would have been sung as people from Israel, Syria, North Africa, and other desert regions journeyed to Jerusalem, the Mount of Zion. The vision of the holy city as the source of all water, all springs, sustained them as they walked through hot, arid lands.

However, as the Jewish Study Bible states, Psalm 87 presents “numerous textual difficulties.” It is a patchwork of material from other sources, “damaged and disarranged” according to the Oxford Edition of the NRSV. Consequently, it’s not clear if the “you” of verse 7 – “All my springs are in you” – refers to Jerusalem, the end of the pilgrim’s journey, or to the pilgrimage itself.

The ambiguity is good, I think, for it reminds us that God’s life-giving, cleansing, healing water not only awaits us at the end of our dusty and dry journeys, but it springs up all along the way.

Prayer Thank you, God, for the springs we find in the deserts of our lives. Amen.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

While It Was Still Dark

In the morning, while it was still very dark, [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. - Mark 1:35 (NRSV) Since it was long before the sun’s light dawned, what woke him up

Even Babies

People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. - Luke 18:15a (NRSV) It’s probably blasphemy, but the story of Jesus blessing the children has long been among my least favorite pass


Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” - Genesis 12:1 (NRSV) Each January, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Mary

bottom of page