Upper and Lower What?! Two of the Greatest Gifts God Offers Us.
Last week was rough. Nothing that God couldn't handle but certainly more than I could. It was the kind of week you know you need to dig deep.
I was grateful that this week’s verse was already on my radar.
"Then he gave her the upper and lower springs." Joshua 15:19 TLB
The context is a request from a daughter to her father. The story was meaningful because I knew that I needed something from my Father.
History, as documented in the book of Joshua, records a significant exchange between a father and daughter. The father's name is Caleb, and his daughter is Acsah.
The daughter is making a request after having received land for her dowry. A wonderful gift but the land is dry. Acsah was on her donkey. When she came into her father's presence, she quickly dismounted. It was a show of reverence and respect for her father.
Before Acsah could even make a request, Caleb asked, "What can I do for you?"
Is it possible that her ready display of a humble heart spurred him to pursue her welfare before she could even make a request?
We don't know for sure. We only know what's recorded next. Her appeal. She said,
"Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me springs of water." So, Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.” Joshua 15:19 NIV
The first thing to note is that Acsah's father gave her more than she asked for. He ensured she had access to not just one water source but two. Each from its own distinct origin. Water that would trickle down from the hills above. And water that would rise from the rivers below.
The father had his daughter covered on every front.
The second observation is that the daughter trusted her father's feelings toward her. She knew she could ask. The land was an excellent gift, but there needed to be water for it to reach its full potential.
We have all received gifts from the Father. Homes. Work. Families. Good gifts. But sometimes, we need water for those gifts to reach their maximum potential.
Families that can live in harmony. Family members that will thrive and not just survive.
Jobs that can be navigated with integrity and a sense of purpose.
Homes that can serve as a springboard for the mission of nurturing others–– whether they are related to us or not.
Our Father has been good, but we may know we need water.
When I want to dig deep into Scripture, I read Bible commentaries. One of my favorites is Matthew Henry. He made an observation about the upper and lower springs that felt like an "aha" moment to me.
He commented that the upper springs pertain to the heavenly gifts we receive. We do need that kind of watering, don't we? It's easy to identify needs here on earth. As we petition on behalf of that need, we grow in the understanding that the answer may be more spiritual than physical. We recognize we need watering from the upper springs.
Upper springs are a gift, to be sure, but we need the lower springs too. If I may, I'll share Matthew Henry's explanation. The English is a bit formal. But I like the way He put it.
"…one field, watered both with the rain of heaven, and the springs that issued out of the earth… when we pray for spiritual and heavenly blessings which relate to our souls, as blessings of the upper springs, and those which relate to the body and the life that now is, as blessings of the nether [lower] springs. All the blessings, both of the upper and the nether [lower] springs, belong to the children of God. As related to Christ, they have them freely given of the Father, for the lot of their inheritance."
We have received an inheritance from our Father just as Acsah did. She received not just land but the means by which the land could be fertile.
The excellent gift of land could reach an even greater potential with water. We can be grateful for the gifts God has given us. Just because we reverently get off our donkeys and ask for water doesn't mean we're not grateful.
It means we trust our Father with our dream for more. For fertile land. Productive land. Land that will ultimately provide for others. We, too, can receive access to upper and lower springs.
We don't have to have a rough week to yearn for upper and lower springs. Certainly, we crave them more when we're in a desert, but the whole point of the springs is that what we do have will grow.
Upper springs, those touches from heaven, are a blessing. They minister to us and others in many ways.
Peace that passes understanding.
Forgiveness we receive that is undeserved.
Forgiveness we offer, and we know it doesn't stem from our own strength.
Desires that change. The surprise that comes to us when we recognize we're no longer attracted to things that we're sure would displease our Father.
We could make a long list of the many ways God provides through upper springs. But for some reason, it was the lower springs that ministered to me most this past week.
There was no great epiphany, no marvelous solution, no apparent way out. There was one thing.
The knowledge that I wasn't alone.
A strange bubbling up within… the rising of water from an artesian well that gave me hope.
Our eyes can lift upwards, and we can be grateful for a Father who provides heavenly gifts. But there are times when what we thirst for even more is a friend down here with us. One who will abide in us. The gift of His enduring presence moment to moment right here on earth.
A gift from the lower springs.
Whatever our situation, our Father will care for our needs from the upper and lower springs.
Psalm 87:7 says,
"All my springs are in thee."
As Matthew Henry put it, this is our inheritance because of Christ.
Lives that, regardless of challenging circumstances, have reason to hope.
Gifts from the upper springs are a divine blessing.
But if I had to choose, I wonder.
I wonder if I wouldn’t long more for Christ’s promise to be with us–– to be the living water that bubbles up within us.
Indeed, if I had to choose I believe I would say, "Give me the lower springs, Lord, give me the lower springs!"