The Darkest Valley
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
The 23rd Psalm may be the most famous of the 150 in the Bible. It was written by King David and it is a psalm of praise, of encouragement, and a declaration of confidence and faith in God. But something we may not realize is that David is not making blind declarations or attempting to simply encourage others—he’s drawing on past experience when he writes these words.
When David writes, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me,” he knows exactly what that’s like because he did it. The battle between David and Goliath took place in the Valley of Elah between the two hills where the armies were camped. David had already walked down into the valley, unafraid and dependent on God, and God gave him the victory. God was with David and David drew on that experience to write this Psalm. He wrote those words with confidence because he did actually walk into the darkest valley to face a giant and God was with him.
David used a lot of shepherd language and imagery throughout this psalm as well. Before he was on the fast track to becoming king, David was a shepherd and like any good writer, David wrote what he knew. When shepherd lead their flocks, they walk in front so the flocks can follow, but when the herd traveled into a dark place, a valley shadowed by large hills or mountains for example, the shepherd would move to the middle of the herd to be amongst the sheep. The sheep then do not fear the dark because their shepherd is there beside them; they can feel his presence.
When David wrote of the peaceful streams, the shepherd was leading. When he wrote of being on right paths, the shepherd was guiding. It’s not until the valley is dark that the shepherd is there beside him, protecting and comforting. There are over 40 verses in the Bible that reference God as a shepherd and His followers as His flock, and it’s no wonder why.
What dark valleys has God led you through? Draw from these past experiences for encouragement that God is and will always be with you. Follow God as He leads and know that when you pass through dark valleys, God is beside you, comforting and protecting you. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.