Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
[Such valleys come in our lives. I have been faced with physical death, with death of a vision, death of a relationship and death to self: dark times that were difficult, disorienting, distressing–like my wife’s long lasting depression (which she is now over). You, Lord Jesus, knowingly lead us into these valleys, just as when you sent the disciples out in their boat into the teeth of the storm (Matt. 14:22-24)
And it is for good reasons that you, Lord Jesus, lead me into and through these valleys–the greatest two being my giving you glory through trust by giving thanks, and my growth in grace. And you have other reasons beyond my present understanding. I can trust you as you lead me through the darkness, no matter how it feels–what you taught me in the light is still true in the dark.]
“I will fear no evil, for you are with me;”
[Evil is there in the valley, both in presence and potential, but I need not fear it, for you are with me–you, my Great and Good Shepherd, who is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer. When you are there, what grounds do I have for fear? You are sovereign over everything and are in control of all; you are our great and mighty Ruler.
As one person said, safety is not the absence of danger but the presence of Jesus. I praise you for your faithful and powerful presence, full of wisdom and grace, love and firmness, able to protect us in the midst of any evil.]
“your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’
[With your rod, you hold our enemies at bay. You rule with a rod of iron; no one can defeat you: “there is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord” (Prov. 21:30). Therefore, I need not fear.
And with your shepherd’s staff, you guide me, correct me, bring me back to the path when I wander off. It is my nature (old self) to veer off the path, for I don’t have a valid compass within myself. But your constant correction with your staff (your Word, your Spirit, consequences to my wrong choices and advice of godly believers) keeps me on track. My course may be a zigzag one as I stray and you bring me back, but the progress with you is always forward.
Praise you that you are helping me to walk more in wisdom, to zig less, to squander less time and energy on my own way, thereby bringing you more glory as I tread your path. Praise you, Lord Jesus, for your faithful and powerful presence and protection. To you be glory and exaltation and honor, for you know the way through the dark valley and will lead me out. You are worthy of exaltation, thanksgiving and obedience.
Therefore, I bow before you today in faith, I rise up in the day’s dawn to walk in submission to your loving guidance, especially when it takes me through dark times. Truly, the commandments of the Lord are radiant, giving light to my eyes (Ps. 19:8). Praise be to YOU!]