“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4
When we journey through valleys, the darker parts are often the hardest to walk through. The discomforts of suffering and trials can be stressful and overwhelming. They can be hard to navigate and hard to travel. “How much valley is still up ahead?”, “How much worse is it going to get before it gets better?” “Is that really darker path I see coming?” These are questions we would all love to have answers for. Though this may be our desire, God doesn’t promise to give us those answers.
What does God promise us in Psalm 23? He promises that we won’t go through the valley alone. God gives His care, nurture, and presence to His people in the green pastures, as well as the shadowy valleys that bear death’s stench.
Good shepherds have tender affection for their flock. They know the sheep need them. Skilled and faithful shepherds are blessings to their sheep. In verses 1-3 of this psalm, David tells us wonderful things about the care our Lord. David points us to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. Jesus laid down His life for His sheep that we would live (John 10:11). Jesus is the definition and chief example of a self-sacrificial servant (Philippians 2:5-8). David teaches us that our Lord provides for all of our needs. He feeds us good food. He gives us good rest. He leads us in paths of righteousness, for His name sake.
It’s no wonder that David conveys such confidence in the words of verse 4. Whereas some would challenge David, asking him, “How can you be so confident in times like this? How can you walk through such a valley and not be scared out of your boots?” David’s quick response would clearly be, “Because my Lord, my Shepherd is with me.” David knew God’s love and nurture in the green pastures and still waters of his life. Knowing God was with him, what had he to fear, even in the darkest shadow?”
Brothers and sisters, do we know how much further the valley goes up ahead? No, but Jesus does. Do we have good reason to fear the dark roads in front of us? No, for He is with us. Like David, His rod and His staff are of great comfort to us. He is leading us and knows exactly where we need to go and how we need to grow. Let us draw near to Christ, confess and repent of our sins, and seek to walk humbly and faithfully with Him today in the midst of the shadows.