Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Psalm 23:4-5 NIV*
I’ve always thought of Psalm 23 as a progression. There are the green pastures, the quiet waters, the paths of righteousness, the dark valley, then the feasting.
But I wonder… many translations broaden the KJV’s “valley of the shadow of death” to be a dark valley of any kind, where we may be in danger or may just be slogging and struggling.
Isn’t that where the enemies are? Not when we come out the other side, but in that valley? Where the Shepherd keeps His staff handy to protect us?
When the going is hard and we’re desperate for a light at the end of the valley-tunnel, remember that our Shepherd—the Light of the world—is with us.
Sooner or later we’ll glimpse the end. We’ll even reach it. But even now, when we despair of going on, here in the presence of our enemies—illness, grief, negativity, fear, family, work, whatever valley we’re in—maybe our Shepherd is setting a table for us. Maybe He’s whispering, “Sit for a minute and eat. Rest and catch your breath. I AM here.”
Jesus, our gentle but strong Shepherd, remind us of Your presence in the light and in the dark. Help us rely on Your love and care. You know our needs. Help us trust You to meet them. Even in the valleys, with enemies all around.
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.