Unless you are a person who hikes in mountainous areas with some regularity, verse 4 is probably figurative for you. “In the valley of the shadow of death” could be an illness, a dark time of loneliness, or the death of a loved one. For a shepherd, however, a “valley in the shadow of death” could be quite literal.
The need to find pastures for his flock requires that a shepherd traverse mountainsides and, in turn, valleys. Valleys can be dangerous places with rocky terrain, flash floods, or predators lying in wait. A good shepherd will help his flock get through these places without lingering, and he will use his rod to protect them. He uses the staff to keep them on the right path and sometimes to help get them get out of trouble. The shepherd’s close relationship with his flock instills a sense of trust such that the sheep don’t dread the rod and the staff, they look for and depend upon them.
So, in your times of trouble – our valleys – what do you look for and depend upon? What are your rod and staff?
As the rod was an extension of the shepherd, the Bible – God’s Word – is an extension of Him. Where else can we receive so much instruction, guidance, and comfort?
- Feeling unnoticed and unimportant? Read the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Matthew 18:10-14.
- Feeling miserable for sins committed and thus unworthy? Read Psalm 130.
- Grieving over illness or the loss of a loved one? Try Psalms 34:17-18.
- Saying “Why me”? Check out Romans 8:28.
The list could go on and on.
For those of you who are parents, don’t you welcome and even rejoice when your child comes to you for guidance or comfort? The Lord is no different! He is waiting for you to come to Him.
In my own life, it is striking how much better a tough conversation or difficult decision will go if I seek His guidance first. I recall in particular a very difficult conversation with a relative that I was dreading. I didn’t want to talk because I knew that it was going to be very confrontational, and I was certain I would lose my temper. As the time of the call approached and I was feeling great anxiety, I took the time to pray and to read scripture. What a difference! I stayed calm and the call went about as well as it could. Sad to say, I don’t always do this, and I pay the price! But the good news is that God waits patiently for the next time.
Only two more days, until IF:2023!! Can’t wait to see you and here is a little something in keeping with the sheep theme that will hopefully make you chuckle…
Check out IF INFO for reminders on times and general info. As the week goes on, we’ll add details such as song list and what to expect when you arrive. Can’t wait to “IF” with you this Friday! 🙂