The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:1-6).
As I was reading this Psalm, my eyes were drawn to the phrase, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley” (verse 4). Does this refer only to “the valley of the shadow of death”? or Are there not, also, many other dark valleys that we must pass through before we reach “the valley of the shadow of death”? As we make our way through life, there are many times when darkness threatens to overwhelm us. In these times, when we feel defeated, the Lord draws near to us. He speaks to us words of encouragement, words that give us the strength that we need to keep on walking with him. What great words of peace and power there are in Psalm 23. Sometimes, we feel that we’re going under, we’re sinking, drowning in a sea of negative emotions. Is there any hope of coming through this dark valley? Is there any hope of rising above everything that’s dragging us down and tearing us apart? What are we to do when we feel like this? Where do such negative thoughts come from? Do they come from the Lord? No. They come from our enemy, the devil. How are we to answer the devil when he puts these negative thoughts into our minds? We could begin with the opening words of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” These words of the Psalmist remind us that we’re not on our own. The Lord is with us. Here are some more words of encouragement from Psalm 23, “I will fear no evil” (verse 4). Fear is such a negative emotion. It can destroy us. We must challenge our fears: what right have you, my fears, to make me feel like this? In the name of the Lord and in the power of the Lord, that’s the way in which we must face our fears and conquer them. If we try to face our fears in our own strength, we will be defeated. We will try to overcome our fears, but we will fail to overcome them. Throughout the Word of God, the message comes to us loud and clear: we must put our faith in the Lord, if we are to win the victory over our fears. How does the Lord enable us to triumph over our many fears? He gives us something better than fear. He gives us his love: “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life” (verse 6). Does the blessing of the Lord end with “all the days of my life”? No! It takes us beyond that: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (verse 6). Our times in the dark valleys may seem to go on and on, but they will not last forever. The love of our Saviour will last forever, and our salvation will last forever. Praise God!