Going Through the Valley
Psalm 23:4 is one of the most familiar verses of the Bible: “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.” But have you ever thought about the connections you can make to your life regarding this verse?
Let’s think about the context of this verse…the real-life application of shepherds and sheep. In order to reach the high country where lush green grass is located, the shepherd must lead the sheep through the valley of the shadow of death. This journey is out of the ordinary for the sheep which makes it stressful for the sheep. Are you drawing any connections to your life?
In this verse, “death” is not necessarily passing form earth to heaven. There are a lot of dark dismal hours of life along the way to Heaven. “The valley of the shadow of death” is actually a physical location. It’s about 4.5 miles long with some high walls on either side. At some points, the space between the wall is only 10-12 feet wide. This is too narrow to turn around a flock of sheep or change directions. Some parts of the floor surface has gullies caused by cloud bursts. These gullies can be 7-8 feet deep…quite dangerous. In the Bible, valleys are symbolic of low, dark, lonely times in our life.
But you see, the Lord not only designs the paths of our lives, He also LEADS us there, even through the valleys. If He Leads us through the valley of the shadow of death, we can be sure it’s part of His plan.
Have you ever thought about the PATH through the valley of the shadow of death? Valley experiences are difficult and no fun. Everyone has them. In the physical valley, it can become flooded suddenly from the cloud bursts that create the gullies…much like life. You can wake up happy and then the story changes. Life is not always easy. Valley experiences are depressing. Some days are gloomy or depressing. Everyone experiences these times. (Here are some more of my thoughts on depression). No one is immune to depression or valleys. Depression is a real thing. We have to make the choice of how we deal with…wallow in it or ask God to guide us through it.
What about the PURPOSE of the valleys in our life? God LEADS us there for a reason, right? So what could those reasons be? He wants to advance us. We go through the valley. We’re not in the valley. We don’t stay there for ever. It’s a passage from one place to another; a path to higher ground. In the valleys, God is seeking to get us somewhere better than where we are right now. God can take our valleys and lead us to higher places we couldn’t get to otherwise. Therefore, part of the purpose of the valleys is our acceptance of the valley experiences. Notice how David says “YEA though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”. David learned the value of the valley. If you’re in a valley (or when you get there), don’t ask WHEN you’re going to get out of it, ask WHAT you’re going to get out of it.
We need to remember the Lord’s PRESENCE in the valley. Did you notice how certain His presence is when we’re in the valley? It’s absolutely certain! Jesus has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and He keeps His promises. Notice how close His presence is. David switched pronouns when he entered the valley, Instead of referring to God as “He”, God is now “You”. Verses 1-3 talk ABOUT the Shepherd. Verse 4 talks TO the Shepherd. It’s personal! Did you catch the calming effect of the Lord’s presence? Because God is WITH us, taking us THROUGH the valley, we can have no fear! He covers us comfort!
When you go through your next valley experience, try to remember that it’s a path to a better place, there is a purpose for it, and God is WITH you as you journey THROUGH it. And KEEP WALKING!