Topic: With Us in the Valley
Bible in a Year: Isaiah 23–25; Philippians 1
Memory Verse: I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Psalm 23:4
Scripture & Insight: Psalm 23
In the Old Testament, we’re accustomed to the writers using metaphors to describe God, and in most cases those metaphors are of inanimate objects. One such cluster of metaphors is found in Psalm 18:2: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” In that verse alone, no less than five different inanimate metaphors are used—rock, fortress, shield, horn, stronghold.
This is part of what sets Psalm 23 apart. It’s one of the most prominent passages in the Old Testament where a personal metaphor is used to describe God—the shepherd. In a culture rooted in agriculture (including shepherding), the nature of the relationship between a sheep and its shepherd would be well known, making this word picture a fitting way to understand how deeply our God cares for us.
As Hannah Wilberforce (aunt of British abolitionist William Wilberforce) lay dying, she wrote a letter in which she mentioned hearing about the death of a fellow believer in Jesus: “Happy is the dear man who is gone to glory, now in the presence of Jesus, whom unseen he loved. My heart seemed to jump for joy.” Then she described her own situation: “Myself, better and worse; Jesus, as good as ever.”
Her words make me think of Psalm 23, where David writes, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley [the valley of the shadow of death], I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (v. 4). Those words leap from the page because it’s there, in the middle of the valley of the shadow of death, where David’s description of God turns deeply personal.
He moves from talking about God in the beginning of the psalm—“the Lord is my shepherd” (v. 1)—to talking to Him: “for you are with me” (v. 4, italics added).
How reassuring it is to know that almighty God who “brought forth the whole world” (90:2) is so compassionate that He walks with us through even the most difficult places. Whether our situation turns better or worse, we can turn to our Shepherd, Savior, and Friend and find Him “as good as ever.” So good that death itself is vanquished, and we will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (23:6).
Reflect & Pray
How does it comfort you to know that Jesus our Shepherd is always with you? How can you share that hope with someone today?
My Shepherd, thank You for Your perfect faithfulness and kindness to me. Help me to stay near You today.
Our Daily Bread 5 October 2021 Devotional written by James Banks published by Our Daily Bread Ministries. Read more