InTouch.org with Dr. Charles Stanley
Monday, September 27, 2010
Read | Psalm 23
The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4Even though I walk through the [a]valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no [b]evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will [c]dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Where there are mountains, there must also be valleys—it’s a simple fact of the created world. The same is true in our spiritual life. To reach the place where God is leading us, we must sometimes traverse “the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4).
Spiritual mountaintops are wonderful spots to rest awhile. At such times, we feel close to God and sure of His love. But we get to those high places by toiling through the valley, where we discover His character, the truth of His promises, and our own weakness. There are aspects of the Lord that we see only as we journey though shadow.
God is a jealous shepherd—He wants His followers relying entirely upon Him. He draws us through valleys in order to remove every habit, thought pattern, or external crutch that we use instead of trusting Him. In the low places, those suddenly seem inadequate. We discover whether our faith, courage, and wisdom are self-created or from the Lord.
While walking in valleys is an inevitable part of life, believers aren’t left comfortless. Verse 5 is about having needs met, including the desire to be soothed. Here is the image of a tender shepherd rubbing oil onto an animal’s scraped skin. God promises assurance, healing, and safety, even in hardship.
Believers can shout, “I trust God,” from the mountain because they have learned to live by faith in the valley. Walking in the shadow of evil is difficult and frightening work. But when we surrender to whatever the Lord has to teach us in this dark place, our spirit is quieted and our faith is strengthened.