Saturday, May 7, 2011

Psalm 23, Verse 4

Psalm 23:4  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.

Verse four is one of those "Wow!" verses.  Just jammed full of rich meaning.  After all the good things mentioned in the previous three verses, he begins to reflect on the times that were not so good.  He begins with "though I walk".  Very telling.  David was in motion, he wasn't going to just lie down and give up.  He was going through the valley, not stopping to have a pity party there.  In Hebrew, valleys were often named by events or activities that occurred there (such as the Valley of Vision in Isaiah 22:1).  This one referenced a very dark time, the closeness of death or death itself.  David certainly saw all of those.  And yet he wanted the reader to know that he wasn't pausing there to soak in the atmosphere.

The next phrase in this verse is, "I will fear no evil".  Yes, David experienced the results of evil acts.  But, here, David struck right at the heart of the issue.  He knew that as bad as evil acts were, they couldn't exist without morally evil thinking.  And that's the meaning of "evil" in this verse.  David was not going to give a place for the darkness and spiritual death of moral evil to create fear or awe in him. And then he explains why.

The rest of the verse reads, "for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."  David realizes the Lord is at his side, with him and for him.  But especially he realizes the enormity of that! The Hebrew word for "rod" describes a ruler's scepter and the staff a shepherd uses to herd the sheep.  Both can include discipline. The "staff" is both the walking staff of a shepherd and the staff that denotes the office of a prophet.  David saw himself protected by a God who had the strength of a king, the gentleness of a shepherd, the spiritual wisdom of a prophet, plus, in all instances, ready to take on the enemy to protect those in the flock.  And that's the point, isn't it?

This verse is an opportunity for God to speak to us through David about our own walk with Him.  And the message is that, no matter what circumstances come our way, God "has our back".  No matter what we go through, we have the power of the King of Eternity, the gentleness of the Great Shepherd, the spiritual wisdom of The Prophet to carry us through.  And, as the predators stalk our well being, we can rest in the knowledge of God's commitment to defend and protect us.  In John 14:27 Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

And please continue to pray for Libby.

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