The Lord is my Shepherd.
Psalm 23 (A Psalm of David):
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He settles me down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. 3 He brings me back (from wrong paths to right paths). He leads me in right paths for His Name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil; for You are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, King David (once a shepherd himself) wrote perhaps the most ‘famous’ literary masterpiece in history. Psalm 23 introduces us to the ‘Good Shepherd.’ The language in Psalm 23 is so intimate that David refers to the Lord as ‘his (personal) shepherd.’ The same can also be said of all of us that have a personal relationship with the One True God; the God of the Bible.
In verses 1-3, David describes what the Good Shepherd does for his sheep:
- He settles me down in green pastures.
- He leads me beside still waters.
- He brings me back.
- He leads me in right paths for His name’s sake.
The full picture of verses 1-3 can be further explained like this: Slow down, be at rest, be still; the Good Shepherd is on the throne!
In light of all this, verse 4 brings a sharp transition into the fold with the onset of “dark valleys.” The shepherd will always lead His sheep through dark valleys. It’s part of the journey. David has a specific place in mind when he references “dark valleys,” which is called the “valley of the shadow of death,” or “place of dark valleys.” This was a literal location and a very well traveled through route in David’s time.
The mountains surrounding the place of dark valleys were so cavernous that it was as dark as night, even in the height of day. Shepherds would heard their sheep through this well traveled area even though dangerous predators lurked within the dark shadows. But, that was ok because the shepherd passionately and fiercely protected the flock against many perils with his mighty rod and staff.
While we as finite humans prefer to avoid the dark valleys of life, this is the normal way the Lord grows and matures us in Christ because He sees the whole picture at once. We barely see a part. David is confident amidst the dark valleys. So much so, he says in verse 4, “I will fear no evil; for You are with me.” David lacks nothing because the Lord is his shepherd.
Like David, may this truth also take root so deep within us that God’s peace flushes out panic, hurry, worry, fear and fretting. This is exactly how God created us to live.
Keep Looking Up,
Rev. Jon Barrett | Director of CVCCS