“Even 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)
Psalm 23:4 speaks of a rod and a staff, communicating that our God is a God of presence and protection. Think of the image that the valley of the shadow of death evokes in us, thoughts or experiences of danger, difficulty, heartache, even death itself. This is a universal human experience because everyone walks through the valley of the shadow of death sometime in his/her life.
The natural bent of our hearts is towards fear, not fearlessness. Fear can come at any moment, but the ability to “not fear” has to be produced from a cause, something greater than fear.
So, what is the cause?
All of us tend to fear when we walk through valleys and we begin to face our mortality. Maybe we have walked through cancer, disease, illness, and we have had fear in our hearts. Maybe we have walked through family turmoil and strife, abusive relationships, wayward children, unfaithful spouses, valleys of the shadow of relational death, and we have been fearful.
But David says that even though he walks through those valleys, he will fear no evil for the shepherd is with him. We, like the sheep, find courage in the presence of the Shepherd, specifically His presence to protect with the rod and the staff.
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