“Yes, 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”
Isn’t it wonderful to know that when we go through a foreboding trial that God doesn’t leave us in the trial? Instead He takes us through it. It certainly may not be easy, but He will not forsake us.
This Scripture is often used to bring comfort to loved ones at a funeral. It could relate to death, but David, the psalmist, is speaking about this life. It pictures going through a very dark valley, an experience of deep darkness in our lives. Even terror and calamity. It’s a valley experience.
The Bible shepherd often led his sheep through these valleys when taking them to new pasture from one mountain to another. The only way to get to the next mountain was to go through the valley. Some of these valleys were deep gorges with high precipitous cliffs on either side. No sun shone into these valleys.
They were gloomy, eerie, with dark shadows hanging over them. Wild beasts lurked. Robbers waited to steal and even kill for food. Without their shepherd, the sheep would not know where to turn. Without their shepherd, they would freeze with fear.
But with their shepherd close by, they didn’t have to fear any evil! It didn’t matter what evils lurked around, they implicitly trusted their shepherd. What a statement of confidence!
Are you going through a dark valley experience? Dear precious one, your Shepherd does not leave you in the valley. He is with you. He is with you in the darkest of times. He is with you in the scariest of times. Open your mouth and confess this truth: “I thank you, dear Lord Jesus, that You are with me. I do not fear because I trust You.”
God gives us this same promise in Isaiah 43:2: “When thou pasest through the waters, I WILL BE WITH THEE; and through the rivers, THEY SHALL NOT OVERFLOW THEE: when thou walkest through the fire, THOU SHALT NOT BE BURNED, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” We do not talk about the deep valleys we are walking through. Instead, we confess that our Shepherd is with us. This makes all the difference.
Do you notice another powerful principle? This Scripture talks about walking through the dark valley. You don’t camp in the valley! You don’t stop in the valley. Too many believers think that when they enter a valley experience that they will be stuck in it! They’ll never get out. That is not the message of Scripture.
We WALK through our valley experiences. We don’t run with fear. We don’t stop and freeze with fear. We keep on walking, faithfully plodding on, trusting our Shepherd, and listening closely to Him to show us each step to take.
But there’s more yet. You walk THROUGH the valley. This is the message of Psalm 23:4. Say it aloud. “I’M WALKING THROUGH!” Say it again. “I’M WALKING THROUGH.” You don’t try to find another way around. God will bring you out the other side. God is leading you on in His perfect plan for you.
We also notice that God has other comforts for us during the valley experiences. Every shepherd carried a rod and a staff. The rod was the shepherd’s weapon of defense. It often had a club at the end which the shepherd used to attack wild animals and other enemies. This is most probably what David used when he slew the lion and the bear. It can also be used to firmly guide a straying sheep.
The staff was a walking stick, a symbol of authority, and used to protect the sheep or to rescue a sheep stuck in thicket. Sometimes the shepherd placed his staff on the sheep as a symbol of friendship and protection.
The rod and staff also speak of God’s Word which corrects us, guides us, and comforts us. We can’t go through the valley without His Word. And often it is in the valley times that He may have to correct us, but we also experience His comfort too.
Blessings from Nancy Campbell
“Thank you so much, dear Father, that You are my Shepherd. No matter what valley I go through I know You are with me and I can trust You. Thank You for Your presence in the peaceful times and in the dark times of my life. Amen.”
I’m walking through life, sometimes in the lush pasture and sometimes in the valleys, but knowing my Shepherd is with me in all situations.