“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.” Psalm 23:4
What a declaration of faith from the mouth of David, a man familiar with hardships and the emotional strain lurking in their midst. Though this verse from Psalm 23 is one we are likely all familiar with, I invite you to glean with me from the words of the psalmist, as you invite the Holy Spirit to speak and offer counsel to your (name a current emotion you’re struggling with, i.e. “fearful”) heart.
As I read Psalm 23, my eyes were drawn to verse four (see above). However, the more I sat in the verse, the more evident it became that David was only able to make this declaration of faith because he was standing on the promises and truths that he began his song with. His song starts with a declaration of who the Lord is, followed by what that means in his life, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (vs. 1). David was extremely familiar with the role of a shepherd, having been one as a boy. He knew the great cost and sacrifice the Shepherd would go to for the protection and care of his sheep, this being the Shepherd's greatest priority and joy.
Don’t miss this simple yet profound truth friends, the LORD (note “all caps” identifying the divine name, Yahweh, the great I AM) is your personal Shepherd. Take a moment to remind your soul of who your God is. Speak out the names of God that you know. Bring to mind the Hebrew Old Testament names that the Lord uses for Himself. He is Jehovah Jireh (my provider), Jehovah Rophe (my healer), Jehovah Nissi (my banner), El Shaddai (my supplier). There are many others as well. This is your personal Shepherd, the Lord God Almighty. He is walking with you and will supply all that you need. He has promised this to you.
David then continues in verses two and three, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” The Lord Jesus is inviting your soul to find rest in Him. Sit in these two verses for a few moments and ask the Holy Spirit to usher you into a place of green pastures and still, calm waters. Allow Him to identify and personally invite you to trade rest for the thoughts and concerns that are troubling you. Turn your attention away from where the world is leading you, in fear and confusion, and turn your face towards your Shepherd who is leading you in truth and peace.
Let us bring our attention back to verse four, “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.” Notice David’s recognition here that there will be times of trouble. There will be valleys where fear of evil will be waiting to overtake you. I think it safe to say, as COVID-19 infiltrates our land, that we are currently walking through a valley and the temptation to cower in fear has likely touched us all. Are you able to say in your heart, like David, that you will fear no evil, for the Lord your God is with you? Are you able to shift your perspective from the fear and chaos and look at the Lord’s rod and staff guiding you and offering comfort in His near presence? If you are, take this time to offer praise to the Lord your God and keep your eyes fixed upon Him. If you’re not, know that the Holy Spirit longs to provide this peace and assurance in your heart. Allow Him to do it. Remember, David was able to say he would fear no evil only because he knew the One who was walking with him, the One who had led him through many trials before, the One who was guiding him, who would never forsake him or leave him alone. This same One is walking with you now.
Today’s Bible Reading: Psalm 23; Psalm 103