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Summary: A simple reminder using the imagery of the shepherd to show how God is personally involved in our times of trouble to comfort us so we can proclaim, "I fear no evil; for you are with me!"

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MARTIN LUTHER ONCE COMMENTED THAT, "FAITH IS A MATTER OF PERSONAL PRONOUNS." IN OTHER WORDS, IT IS ONE THING TO SAY "THE LORD IS A SHEPHERD"; IT’S ANOTHER TO SAY, "THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD."

THE IMAGE OF THE SHEPHERD HAS PROVIDED US WITH MANY POSITIVE THOUGHTS. JUST THE WORD ITSELF CARRIES WITH IT THOUGHTS OF TENDERNESS, SECURITY, AND PROVISION FOR THOSE BEING SHEPHERDED.

WHETHER ONE IS A CHRISTIAN OR NOT, THE TWENTY-THIRD PSALM HAS BEEN A SOURCE OF COMFORT FOR SO MANY PEOPLE OVER THE AGES DURING THE DARK TIMES OF TROUBLE, PAIN, CALAMITY, AND HEARTACHE.

THIS IS ONE OF THE REASON THIS PSALM WAS WRITTEN. IN A VERY DARK TIME IN DAVID’S LIFE HE NEEDED TO REMIND HIMSELF THAT GOD WAS STILL WITH HIM. LIVING IN EXILE AND RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE FROM HIS OWN SON, ABSALOM, WHO WANTED TO KILL HIM AND TAKE HIS THRONE.

WE TOO, CAN TAKE COMFORT ONCE AGAIN, IN REMINDING OURSELVES OF GOD’S GREAT CARE FOR US. IT IS AN INCREDIBLE JOY FOR US TO KNOW THAT IF GOD IS WITH US IN THE SHADOWS OF DEATH, HE WILL BE WITH US EVEN IN THE SHADE OF ADVERSITY.

THE PSALMIST IS QUICK TO POINT OUT THAT GOD LEADS, RESTORES, AND GUIDES US WITH HIS ROD AND HIS STAFF. THE ROD, MUCH LIKE A SMALL BASEBALL BAT, IS WHAT THE SHEPHERDS USED AS A WEAPON TO WARD OFF CRIMINALS AND WILD ANIMALS THAT POSED A THREAT TO THE SHEEP.

THE STAFF, MUCH LIKE A LONG BROOM HANDLE WITH A HOOK ON THE END, WAS USED TO "CATCH" OR "GRAB HOLD" OF THE SHEEP TO STOP THEM WHEN THEY WERE NEARING DANGER OR HEADING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.

THIS IMAGERY OF THE SHEPHERD WRITTEN BY DAVID WAS TO SHOW US GOD’S CONSTANT VIGILANCE, HIS PERSONAL PRESENCE AND PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT IN THE LIVES OF THOSE WHO ARE HIS SHEEP.

ONE OF THE GREATEST BLESSINGS OF THE TWENTY-THIRD PSALM IS KNOWING THAT WE WILL NEVER FIND OURSELVES IN A SITUATION WHERE THE LORD IS NOT AWARE OF OUR TROUBLES OR DIFFICULTIES.

IN HEBREWS 13:5, WE ARE ASSURED BY GOD’S OWN PROMISE THAT, "I WILL NEVER FAIL YOU. I WILL NEVER FORSAKE YOU." THIS IS WHY WE CAN SAY WITH CONFIDENCE IN VERSE 6, "THE LORD IS MY HELPER, SO I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT CAN MERE MORTALS DO TO ME?"

WE CAN TAKE THE GOOD NEWS WITH US TODAY BY SIMPLY REMINDING OURSELVES THAT GOD IS WITH US, EVEN WHEN "WALKING IN SHADOWS" SEEMS AS IF GOD IS NOT THERE.

MANY OF US HAVE WALKED IN THOSE SHADOWS. THE HEBREW IMAGERY OF SHADOWS IN THIS PSALM INDICATES TIMES OF TOTAL DARKNESS.

WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE! THE BOSS SAYS, "CLEAN OUT YOUR DESK," OR "WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO LET YOU GO." THE POLICE OFFICER AT THE DOOR TELLS YOU YOUR SPOUSE HAS BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT.

THE DOCTOR THAT TELLS YOU, "YOUR CHILD WILL HAVE SOME BIRTH DEFECTS," OR "YOUR DISEASE IS TERMINAL." WHEN THE PRINCIPAL CALLS AND SAYS "YOUR SON HAS BEEN EXPELLED." WHEN A SPOUSE SAYS, "I’VE HAD ENOUGH AND I WANT A DIVORCE."

THE SAME WAS TRUE FOR THE SHEEP OF DAVID’S FLOCK. THE SHEEP FREQUENTLY HAD TO GO THROUGH THE DARKEST PART OF THE VALLEY, THE LOWEST PART, WHERE THE SUN DID NOT SHINE, IN ORDER TO GET TO GREENER PASTURES.

THEY HAD TO TRUST THE SHEPHERD WHOSE PRESENCE TRUMPED THEIR FEARS AND THEIR TEMPTATION TO CUT OUT, SCATTER AND RUN IN A STATE OF PANIC.

THIS DARK SHADOW OF THE VALLEY THAT REPRESENTS THE THREAT OF DEATH PORTRAYS THE OTHER SIDE OF REALITY THAT LIFE DOESN’T ALWAYS GO WELL.

THE PASTURES ARE SOMETIMES BLACK AND BARREN INSTEAD OF GREEN. THE WATERS ARE SOMETIMES DEEP AND TORRENTIAL INSTEAD OF PEACEFUL AND DRINKABLE.

BUT REGARDLESS OF WHAT TYPE OF SITUATION DAVID FOUND HIMSELF HE KNEW THAT GOD WAS WITH HIM THROUGH IT ALL. HOW DO WE KNOW GOD WAS WITH HIM?

WE KNOW GOD WAS WITH HIM BECAUSE HE TALKED DIRECTLY TO GOD IN THE SHADOW OF THE VALLEY. NOTICE THE GRAMMAR OF THIS POEM. ALL THE TIME DAVID HAD BEEN SPEAKING OF GOD IN THIRD PERSON: "HE" MAKES ME LIE DOWN, "HE" LEADS ME, AND "HE" WILL REFRESH.

BUT WHEN DAVID GETS DOWN INTO THE DARKNESS OF THE SHADOW HE CHANGES TO SECOND PERSON BY SAYING "YOU" ARE WITH ME. DAVID HAD BEEN SPEAKING ABOUT GOD AND THEN, IN THE VALLEY, SPEAKS DIRECTLY TO GOD.

ALTHOUGH NOT IN THE TEXT, THE BEST WAY TO KNOW GOD WAS THERE IS BECAUSE OF THE SHADOW! WHAT NEEDS TO BE PRESENT IN ORDER FOR A SHADOW TO BE CAST? THAT’S RIGHT! LIGHT! GOD IS OUR LIGHT THROUGH THE PRESENCE OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST THE SHEPHERD!

THIS LIGHT WAS DAVID’S COMFORT WHEN HE WALKED IN THE SHADOWS. IT IS THE PROMISE MOSES TOOK WITH HIM IN THE WILDERNESS IN EXODUS 33:14, "MY PRESENCE WILL GO WITH YOU AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST."

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