Since we live in Alaska, we know what darkness feels like. We actually get to deal with darkness for months and months out of the year. Because of this, I always carry a flashlight with me. Before I got my flashlight, I figured I would only use it a few times a week. After I got it, I found that I use it many times a day. I was astonished! I think the reason was because the light gave me peace. It helped me see what was in my way, illuminating not only the things that would cause me to stumble, but also showing the right path to the thing that I was searching for. It became indispensable to me.
Have you ever been in a dark place, not physically but emotionally? It’s sometimes described as feeling that “the walls are closing in on me.” It is during those times when it seems like the shadows of darkness are the most overwhelming. In Psalm 23 verse 4, David wrote about the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I think that’s descriptive enough, but Gerald Wilson in the NIV Application Commentary says that the meaning is better understood as “the shadowiest of all shadows.” And in Young’s literal translation of the Bible, he calls it the valley of “death-shade.” To me, that pictures a bleak predicament that seems to have no chance of escape.
Thankfully, David doesn’t end his poem there. He states that even in those blacker-than-black times, those times where death is bearing down on us, we don’t have to fear evil. Not because evil doesn’t exist or because we have the strength to make it, but because the Good Shepherd is with us. The Good Shepherd is the one that gives peace and causes us to not stumble because He has already gone over every single path that He will lead us on and expertly knows the right way. The Good Shepherd is also the Light of the world. He not only leads the way, but He lights the way too! What He asks us to do is to trust Him and believe that He will take care of us. When we do that, we can agree with David by saying, “I will fear no evil, because You are with me."
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