Walking with the Shepherd
Psalm 23:4 often has been taken as a truth to provide comfort to someone who is dying. I think that is fine. But I don’t think it’s really the primary intent of the verse. In context, it’s a picture of a shepherd guiding his sheep through a dangerous situation: “Yea, 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” (NKJV).
Notice the psalmist David does not say, “Yea, though I collapse and die in the valley of the shadow of death” or “Yea, though I crawl through the valley of the shadow of death.” Rather, David says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (emphasis added).
David was saying, “I’m going to keep walking. I’m going to keep moving, and I’m going to get through this.”
Of course, we don’t like trials. We don’t like valleys. In fact, if we had our way, we would choose to go from mountaintop to mountaintop and from glory to glory. We would go from one happy day to another with no hardship, no tragedy, and no sorrow. But that is not the way it works.
Here’s something we need to know: Spiritual fruit doesn’t grow on mountaintops. It grows in valleys. And the real fruit and depth and character in your Christian life will not come through the good times, per se.
Instead, it will come from times of difficulty and suffering as you are being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ and are learning to completely trust Him.
Maybe you’re in a valley. Don’t panic. Know that it won’t last forever. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will get you through it. His rod and His staff will comfort you.
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