“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;” One of the paths of righteousness you will lead me on goes through this dark valley. It may be a time of dying to a desire, to my will, to a possession or it may be physical danger and suffering or death. It may be a threat to what is right and true. Whatever it is, I do not need to fear that evil will triumph.
There may be loss and suffering, but in the end evil will not win, you, Lord Shepherd, will win. I think of Paul in his shipwreck: there were days of uncertainty where he was cold, wet and hungry, and then the crashing of the ship into a sandbar and everyone having to swim to shore. There was evil present: the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners, Paul included, so they couldn’t escape, but that was prevented. Then the viper bit Paul, but God protected him and no harm was done.
It was a dark valley, caused by faulty human decisions, but in it the witness of Paul shone brighter in his faith, in his declaration of God’s sovereignty, in his prediction (all possesions will be lost, all people will be saved), and in his being protected. Without that dark, the light would have not been seen so clearly. God protects us from what will harm us spiritually as we take refuge in His love, power and truth and in this we can shine as a light house for those seeking Truth.
“I will fear no evil for You are with me;” You, Lord God, are ever present, never leaving us. If there is threatening evil, you are also there, watching, providing, protecting in whatever way you deem best. When the door to the future opens and we have no idea what is on the other side, we can be sure that you are there, waiting to greet us.
“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Your shepherd’s rod, a club to beat off attackers, is powerful, effective, faithful. You are undefeatable; you have already won. We can rest in uncertainty because you are certain.
And your staff is there for us, the shepherd’s crook used to correct the sheep as they stray. You are faithful to warn us when we wander willfully out of the path: you tap us, or you pull us back, you guide us persistently. Praise you for your wisdom, your love, your faithfulness that assures us of your protection and guidance.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;” As the good Shepherd, you bring us into a place to graze. On the edges of this pasture may lurk wolves, bears, lions, or the great serpent, Satan. Their presence, however, does not need to disturb us, for you are our protector. No one can defeat you, no one can thwart your purposes. We can ignore the threats of the enemy and quietly, peacefully feed on what you have given, resting in your goodness, greatness and glory.
You are our Shepherd, our Warrior King who has defeated the enemy. As we remain in the shelter of your Word, your way, your wisdom, praising you in and for all, we are safe–not from suffering but certainly from spiritual harm. Praise be to you for your marvelous gift of being our loving, wise and faithful Shepherd. Glory be to you forever and ever.