Summary: This is the fifth message in a series that takes a fresh look at Psalm twenty-three. This message examines how the Lord leads us through the dark valleys.

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If you would, I would like you to give this question some serious thought. “What was the lowest point in your life?” That time when the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be an oncoming train. You prayed and it seemed that those prayers never made it past the ceiling. You so desperately wanted to find some shred of hope to grab hold of. These times try every part of us including our faith. During these times we ask, “Where is God?” Not because we don’t believe in Him but because we feel so alone. We long for someone to come along side us and put their arm around us and say it’s going to be okay. These are the dark valleys that the Psalmist seems to know all too well. Can I be blunt for a second? It’s during these times that those Christian platitudes such as, “everything has a purpose” doesn’t do a thing except making me want to slap you upside the head. In these dark valleys we often find ourselves asking questions and not finding any answers. Today, once again we are going to turn to the twenty-third psalm and learn more of how the Shepherd handles His sheep. If we pay close attention to David’s words we will find out how to make some sense out of those times in the dark valley. More importantly we will discover where God is during these trying times.

I. Shepherds regularly lead their flocks through valleys.

A. The valley was often the easiest way to get the sheep to the best pastures.

1. During the winter and spring months the sheep were usually kept in a pen in the areas of lower elevations.

2. As summer came the shepherd would then begin to move their sheep to the higher elevations where the winter snows and spring rains have brought to life rich green pastures.

3. Leading the sheep during the summer would be hot and grueling as the sheep move along quite slowly.

4. The Shepherd would lead his sheep through the valleys because they had the best paths and the gentlest grades.

5. The valleys also provided the best supply of food and water along the journey.

6. Leading the sheep through the valleys would allow the shepherd the least difficult way to reach the higher elevations.

B. The valleys were often very dangerous but they were still usually the best route.

1. The valleys may have made the travel the easiest for the shepherd and their sheep but it also presented some very dangerous challenges.

2. The valleys often had many cliffs and crags that afforded predators the opportunity to hide and watch for an opportune time to attack the flock.

3. The valley would also offer adequate hiding places for robbers.

4. The most dangerous threat to the sheep traveling through the valleys was the natural disasters.

a. Rock and mud slides.

b. Unexpected storms of wind, rain, sleet and snow.

c. Devastating flash floods that could occur without warning.

C. Our Shepherd will only lead us down the best path that will get us to where He wants us to go.

1. Like the ancient shepherd God knows exactly the right path to lead His sheep down.

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