“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.” Psalm 23:4
Culminating in these powerful words, a favorite psalm of many paints a vivid picture of our relationship with Jesus. In writing his innermost feelings, King David invites us to imagine the scene. Jesus patiently provides His many sheep with shade. Out in the breeze blown field of green pastureland graze the content flock of faithful ones. Nothing lacking. Everything provided. Never a care or concern on their minds.
Uninvited, like a horrendously evil entity, death’s dark shadow creeps in and looms large. Struggling and striving to startle the sheep, to stir up insecurity, to incite a riotous revolt, death attempts to corner Jesus’ special ones in a deep, dark valley. Yet to no avail. The wandering sheep are following the Lord of Life. The One seen returning life to a valley full of dried up old bones. The One who overcame His own death. The One who has destroyed the strength of death once for all. The simple sight of His caning rod is enough to quiet uneasiness. His staff comforts the fearful.
For no other reason than because it is Jesus leading the way for His sheep, the house of the Lord is my dwelling place . . . forever! At His altar, I receive a taste of the rich food that is being prepared for me at the banquet of eternal life. So come what may , I shall fear no evil!
All too often, the rigors of life attempt to reduce the goodness and mercy that follows the shepherded ones all the days of our lives. Regret of paths not taken. Shame of poor judgment that dances in our faces like a gloating reminder of who we really are. Guilt over love squandered and lost. Sickness that stretches patience beyond the snapping point. So many enemies. So much to fear.
Yet in the tender care of my Good Shepherd, I fear no evil things. I fear no pain. I fear no suffering. I fear no loss. I fear nothing. My Lord has laid waste to my evil enemies and furnishes a feast of the finest dining. Nothing will take you from His care. Walk on, therefore, fearlessly!
“Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.”
The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want (LSB 710)