Encouragement, Faith

The Dark Side of Psalm 23


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valley of the shadow of death

Encouraged by the Valley of the Shadow of Death?

After the perfect spring day of verses 1-3 brimming with green meadows, serene waters, refreshed souls … Psalm 23 makes a dark turn.  In verse 4 the Psalmist continues “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death …”

Okay, that’s just seems sort of really dark and creepy.  I want to blurt out, “I wouldn’t walk in there if I were you!  Stay away from the shadow!”

But then he continues – “I fear no evil.”  That word evil in the original language can mean a lot more.  It can mean distress, misery, injury, calamity, or trouble.  Those describe the shadows cast over our lives as well.  How about you, do you have the courage to name the shadow encroaching over you right now – is it distress, or misery, or injury, or calamity, or some kind of trouble?”

“For You are with me”

This is the source of the Psalmist’s fearlessness.  It is the promise of all promises, a personal promise from your Creator to you.  This is a promise that banishes fear.  Written in a variety of ways, the promise is repeated more than 150 times in the Bible: “I am with you …”  There is no other assurance in the Bible that compares to the sheer volume or magnitude of this promise.

Ask God, Then Listen

Ask God this: What makes that promise so special?  What makes it so significant?

Listen to His answer: “The promise is significant because contains My identity, My essence, and My presence. 

“‘I AM’ with you.”

It means that I am the One who formed you – every protein, enzyme, chromosome, gene, and cell of you.

I breathed into your nostrils the breath of life and made you a living soul.

I crafted your essence in My own image – which gives you a value so great that it can’t even be calculated.

To be with you means that I sustain you, I protect you, I provide for you.

I hold you up with My righteous right hand.

To be with you means that I walk with you through the waters, through the flood – and you do not drown; I walk with you through the fire – and you are not burned. Because I am with you — you will never be shaken.

It means that I love you with the love a perfect Father. I pour out my grace on you, and my mercy, and my peace, and my joy. I offer forgiveness for all your blunders and selfish deeds

It means that I have given the life of my Son for you, punished on the cross for your salvation – to rescue you from sin and death.  When you belong to Me, I will never allow the evil one to take you from Me.

It means that I will never leave you; never forsake you, never allow you to be snatched out of my hand.  I am the good shepherd who lays down His life for his sheep —

I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

So why EVER fear when this single promise banishes the threat of any shadow?

Fear is Defeated

Find encouragement here: Fear is defeated in only one way – faith in the promise.  Faith made up of two essentials:  Your awareness of God’s power; and your confidence in His love for you.  If you want the promise to grow significant in you, then you must cultivate awareness and faith.

  • Start feeding your soul the truth of who God is – from His word.
  • Start learning to live in His presence all the time – by walking in a sustained conversation with Him every moment you can.
  • Start turning every circumstance into a moment to trust Him.

And without fear – walk through every shadow.

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