Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. –Psalm 23:4 (KJV)
In 2013 my husband and I had the opportunity to visit Israel. One of the most impactful stops for me was visiting “The Valley of the Shadow.” When we arrived we exited a parking lot and began walking up a small dirt covered hill of no consequence. I began to wonder what was so special about this stop. It was at the top of this hill that my breath was taken away. Not for the short climb, but for the view that was hidden from us on the other side.
As far as my eyes could see sat miles of rolling desert hills with the town of Jericho barely visible to the right. Down in the valley, a contrast of light and dark shadows highlighted the separation of hills, with only one tiny green oasis visible. It was beautiful…breathtaking…awe inspiring. The Pastor then read Psalm 23 aloud:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. –Psalm 23 (KJV)
What must it have been like to be David who wrote those words? For him, walking through the valley meant not knowing when it may end. He had no bus driving him to the top of the highest hill. He probably wondered if he would come across an oasis and water. And even when he did find water, what other dangers might be hidden? Robbers, enemies, or dangerous animals could be hiding behind each new rolling hill.
In Psalm 22 David is asking God, “why have you forsaken me?” and now, he sings God’s praise and gives thanks for the great Shepherd who takes care of him even in the darkest days. What faith! What hope! What trust! What an example. Each of us has had or is presently having days of darkness. Days where the shadows of the valley seem to engulf us making us wonder if we will ever get out. Good news! You have a shepherd. God will not leave you alone in the darkness. He will guide you through the valley. He will guide you home and find you a place to rest.
1. Where do you turn when you are having dark days?
2. What would it look like in your life to trust God even when things are tough?
Psalm 22; Psalm 56:3; Romans 15:3