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.

Psalm 23:4

David came to learn through the years of being led by the Good Sheperd that his security did not lie in his environment, whether "green pastures" or "still waters", but in his Shepherd.  His words in today's verse are, "You are with me."

Many read Psalm 23:4 and immediately think of the grave; however, the word translated as death can also refer to "deep darkness."  It seems that if we live long enough we will become acquainted with times of darkness and depression.  Sometimes the Lord leads us along these dark paths, where only a ray of light is seen, where the light cast a shadow of His presence within our view.

Sheep have poor vision - they can only see about 20 or 30 feet in from of them - so dark places can be especially difficult to navigate.  At times, a shepard will lead his sheep through narrow, frightening mountain passages.  When our Shepherd does this with us, there is a comforting truth we ought to remember: while the path is new and daunting to us, He never leads His sheep to places He has not already traveled.  He is very much aware of the dangers.  As a result, He is no longer out front leading the flock; He is now beside them, assuring them of His protection and care.  Remember, nothing concerns you that does not concern Him.

A shepherd carries a rod and a staff with him.  The rod is used for protection from anything and anyone who might seek to harm one of his sheep.  The staff is often used to snatch one of his sheep from harm's way.  As a result of having the Lord as his Shepherd, the psalmist found comfort in His rod and staff, and said, "I will fear no evil."

Praise Him today that He Himself is our Protector who walks through our valley with us.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your presence.  Thank You that when answers aren't enough, there is Jesus.  When I don't understand the "dark times," I am grateful that You are here with me.  In Jesus' name, Amen