Sometimes you read a passage in the Bible that stops you in your tracks. Psalm 84:6–8 is one of those passages. Every line subverts expectations. It is full of double entendres.
It speaks of a pilgrimage of the earth that is also a pilgrimage in the heart. It speaks of a valley of trees can also be a valley of tears. It speaks of early rain (or a teacher!) who makes the valley a blessing. In the end, the worshipper has moved from strength to strength in his heart and arrives at Zion.
Whether or he arrives at Zion below or Zion above is beside the point. Actually, the point may be that we are not to decide between the two. It’s both. The Sons of Korah see the internal and external principles of worship as a union.
Here is a translation that I think gives a semblance of the passage’s sense.
|Eng Ps 84:6-8||MT Ps 84:6-8|
|6 Blessed is the person whose strength is in you, in whose heart [you become] a pathway.
7 While walking through the valley of tears/trees, they make it a spring! The teacher/early rain makes it a blessing/spring.
8 They walk from strength to strength. They appear before God in Zion.
6 אַשְׁרֵ֣י אָ֭דָם עֽוֹז־לוֹ֥ בָ֑ךְ מְ֝סִלּ֗וֹת בִּלְבָבָֽם׃
7 עֹבְרֵ֤י׀ בְּעֵ֣מֶק הַ֭בָּכָא מַעְיָ֣ן יְשִׁית֑וּהוּ גַּם־בְּ֝רָכ֗וֹת יַעְטֶ֥ה מוֹרֶֽה׃
8 יֵ֭לְכוּ מֵחַ֣יִל אֶל־חָ֑יִל יֵרָאֶ֖ה אֶל־אֱלֹהִ֣ים בְּצִיּֽוֹן׃
Note that the psalm opens with a macarism (blessed). Like Jesus who said “blessed are the peacemakers,” so also do the Sons of Korah say blessed is one who relies on God.
And the Korahites continue: blessed is the person “in whose heart  a pathway.” While the poetic text leaves a gap that requires filling in; it’s quite clear. The believer who finds strength in God discovers God himself to be a pathway (Ps 84:6). God is the Way.
The way to what? To Zion (v. 8). But before getting to Zion, one must walk along the way of the heart from strength to strength, from God to God who is our strength.
The path is fraught with danger. We walk through the valley of tears (or trees). The valley of trees likely points to stage along the pilgrimage to Zion; what could also be the case is that the Hebrew word bacah refers to tears, signifying prayer or struggle. But I suspect the point here, given the context, is to evoke both meanings—something that I will discuss in more detail shortly.
Yet no matter what: if our trust is in God, this valley will become a spring. Our tears precede the bringing forth of fruit. The early rain (or the teacher since the Hebrew term could mean both) makes the valley a spring.
Now, the question of whether not moreh means teacher or early rain is fascinating. Words cannot mean all the things they mean in one place! That’s a kind of etymological fallacy. Yet in poetry authors can employ creative uses of language, a double entendre for example.
Here that’s probable because of the context. The Sons of Korah have spoken about a real pilgrimage and yet a pathway in the heart; they have spoken of walking through a valley both to Zion on earth and walking through the valley of the heart. And so, I don’t find it too far of a stretch to see the sons of Korah employing a double entendre.
We do, after all, need to read the Bible according to its literal intent which here communicates a double a meaning, one spiritual and one physical—though can we really make such a divide?
The physical, of course, is the early rain that makes the valley fruitful en route to Zion below. The spiritual refers to the “teacher” that instructs us as we make our ascent of the heart to the heavenly Zion. The teacher is either God (v. 3), the Torah, or the Messiah (v. 9). Or perhaps its left purposefully vague here.
The intent of the sons of Korah, then, is to highlight God as the teacher through his regular means of instruction (Ps 19).
The end of the ascent is Zion. Moving from strength to strength in God who is our strength, our hearts walk a pathway up to Zion above. For the worshippers on earth, their pilgrimage signified the heavenly pilgrimage. They had one foot on earth; and when they arrive at Zion on earth at the temple of God where heaven and earth intersect, they stepped into heaven.
This too is our goal. To see God face to face. We have spiritual realities now via the Spirit (Eph 1:3) yet we will soon meet the saints in that unshakable city to which we strain and which will then, at the end of all things, come to earth, remaking the heavens and the earth into a new universe (Rev 22).