Summary: Psalm 23 is perhaps the most well-known Psalm. It's often quoted at funerals. Although you may be familiar with it, have you ever really studied it? Last week we looked at verses 1-3. Today we'll finish looking at David's 23rd Psalm. Let's see what we can learn.
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD (part two)-Psalm 23:4-6
Last week I talked about some of the dynamics of shepherding sheep. If they wander off they can't find their way home. They need a shepherd who cares about and looks out for them. David knew all about that because he was once a shepherd. He takes the experiences he had as a shepherd and thinks about how he is a sheep and God is a shepherd.
He saw his great dependence on the Lord and how he can't make it on his own. David was a warrior and leader of the whole nation yet he was wise and humble enough to know that without God he would be nothing.
David starts this psalm by stating the Lord is his shepherd. He is not his own shepherd and no one else is his shepherd. Then he says, 'I shall not be in want'. David declares with the Lord watching over him no need will go unmet.
He highlights how the Lord makes it so he can lie down in green pastures and leads him beside still waters. David thanks God for doing this so his soul could be refreshed.
David is thankful for the Lord leading him down paths of righteousness. David knows a good shepherd will never lead his sheep down a wrong path. So he is confident that God will never steer him in a wrong direction.
David recognizes that everything he accomplishes is for God's glory, not his. We might get compliments and even rewards but we don't accomplish anything by our own power. So when we get thanked for what we do we need to be thankful and give the credit, praise and the glory to the one who truly deserves it.
Today we'll look at vs. 4-6.
1) In the valley I am comforted (4). “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 it says David walked through the valley; he didn't run. This means he wasn't worried or fearful, but sure. With the Lord we can face the valleys with confidence. Not that we're nonchalant about it but we're not anxious or panicked either.
And notice we don't walk around the valley but through it. God leads us beside quiet waters and green pastures but he also allows us to enter the valley of the shadow of death. We would like to be able to walk around all the valleys but the Lord makes it so we need to walk through them. There may be some valleys the Lord graciously allows us to avoid but others will not be avoidable.
We might say, “why do I have to deal with this? This isn’t fair; I don’t deserve this". Although it might seem mean or uncaring that the Lord would make us go through the valley, we need to remember that we're not going through them alone; he is there with us.
Being in a valley leaves me vulnerable. If you were a predator or in battle, you would want to have the high position. You have the better vantage point and you have the upper hand when it comes to attacking your enemy. So going through the valley would normally put you at a great disadvantage, but not when the Lord is with you. Evil never has the upper hand when the Lord is your traveling companion.
It's interesting that David calls it the valley of the shadow of death. ‘Shadow of death’ means thick darkness or deepest gloom. Walking through the valley of the shadow of death is no picnic. The shadow of death is the place where evil lurks. Have you ever been in a spiritually dark place where you could practically feel the evil around you?
In the valley of the shadow of death it can seem as if God isn't there because of the looming darkness all around me. But he is. If you're sitting in a dark room does that mean the sun stopped shining? No, it means you're in a place where the sun is blocked from entering. So what do we do? Open the curtains to let the light in.
Even though I find myself in this gloomy dungeon of demonic terror I will not be afraid, because God is with me. I will fear no evil because I know you love me. 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love drives out fear. God's perfect love sent Jesus to us and Jesus' perfect love made the sacrifice for our sin. Love and salvation drives away the fear of sin's punishment and power.
We fear no evil because we know that God is greater than evil and this God who is greater than any display of evil loves me and watches over me and he has given me the power to resist evil and be victorious. There is power in his presence and there is peace and comfort in his presence while we're going through the valley.