We’ve been looking at Psalm 23 in which King David writes about God as our Shepherd. In verses 3 and 4, David reflects on how the Lord leads us.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even 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.
Here we see that God will guide us down good paths that will bring glory to His name if we follow Him and do not turn from His voice. But that does not necessarily mean that those paths will always be easy or that they won’t lead into some hard places. We all long to experience the mountain tops, but every life will contain valleys we would not choose to enter. In fact, David says we may encounter a valley so grim that it appears to be “the shadow of death;” but he would also want us to see that it is just the shadow of death, not death itself. Shadows cannot truly harm us in the end. Yes, they may dim our sight and chill our bones for the moment, but they are only temporary. Their effects do not last.
There is another reassurance here. David says these are valleys we will walk through. Our Shepherd will not abandon us there. If we trust Him and continue to follow in His steps, He will take us out the other side.
Then David mentions the shepherd’s rod and staff. A good shepherd was never without these two things. He used his staff to draw his sheep close to his side. But he used the rod like a club against predators. You see, sheep are helpless against predators. They do not fight back or flee when attacked. They tend to cluster together in sheer panic, waiting for their shepherd to defend them. David had killed both lion and bear protecting his family’s sheep as a young boy. He knew firsthand what it was like for the shepherd to courageously protect his own.
And this is the comfort we are offered in this psalm. No matter how dark or deep our particular valley may be, we do not need to fear, for we are not alone. Our Good Shepherd is with us. His rod and His staff will protect and defend us against all the attacks of the enemy. He Himself will guard us and get us safely through whatever we face.
If you are in a valley right now, please know that the Lord promises to get you through; and if you are under attack, remember that your strong defender is with you and is well equipped to protect you from the enemy. Stay close by His side. Follow Him wherever He leads, even into the valleys. Walk in His paths without fear. Your Good Shepherd will never leave you or forsake you.
Blessings on your day!