Psalm 23 is regarded as the most well-known of all the Psalms. Its clarity, brevity, poetic beauty, and timely truths secure it as one of the Psalms which the church will continue to memorize, quote and sing again and again. Nested in the grandeur of this Psalm is one small nugget of scriptural gold that is often overlooked. Psalm 23:6 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” The “valley of the shadow of death” rightly looms as the dominant subject of this verse. And yet, it is not the valley where our comfort rests. It is not even singularly the staff which brings comfort. Rather, subtle to a quick and even careful read is the fact that this shepherd who wields the staff and brings comfort, leads us. This is evidenced by this singular word, “through.” The Valley of the Shadow of Death is not a “to” place for which will be lost and forgotten. To the contrary, it is a “through” place our shepherd leads us out of. The significance and applications of this text are profound. Many of us feel as though the Lord us lead us to a trial and then abandoned us there. As though we are left to our own pity, depression, trials and persecution in isolation. But God doesn’t lead us to it, He leads us through it. Church, do you believe that? Are you trusting in the Lord and the confidence the Psalmist has here? We will face trials (and many of us are, right now!) but God will lead us through them.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord