Video Devotional: Safety in Someone Who Knows the Way (Psalm 23:4)
Posted on April 24, 2012 - 11:57am in Weekly Devotionals
"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
Here in Winter Park, FL our world has been rocked by the brutal murders of two high school students: Nic Presha and Jeremy Stewart. This incident has raised a whole raft of questions about good, evil, fairness, suffering, and death. How could something so horrible happen to two kids? How could it happen here?
The way these boys died is particularly horrific: they were shot execution-style and then burned. But the truth is all death is hard. How do the living survive it?
King David in the Old Testament was a military man who had seen a lot of death in his lifetime. He had seen men die horrific deaths in battle, had come pretty close to being killed on several occasions, and had had to kill enemies. He had walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death many times.
In his psalm, he says the way to get through the valley is by following the Shepherd. Being a shepherd by trade, David knew the full impact of his metaphor. When sheep get into a scary place, they usually panic and head every which way, which makes them get even more lost. Often they get into trouble with their panic. People tend to do the same thing. We feel overwhelmed as we walk through the Valley of Death and begin to panic, scrambling for a way out. Sometimes our scrambling only makes things worse.
David says the way out is to follow the Shepherd. Though the psalm was written long before Jesus’ day, many people believe the Shepherd actually refers to Jesus because that is how He saw Himself. That means we have a shepherd who has actually been through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and in a pretty brutal way at that. Crucifixion was torture. There is nothing He has not seen and He is not afraid. And if we follow Him, we don’t need to be afraid either.
The early Christians knew this. Like Jesus, many of them faced grief, disappointment, and early deaths. But they didn’t let these things have the final say in their lives. In writing of his own encounter with the Valley of the Shadow of Death, St. Paul wrote: “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
2 Corinthians 4:16-17
The question for us, then, is whom will we follow? Will we follow the Shepherd who knows the way through the valley, or will we just follow the rest of the sheep who are as lost as we are?