Today’s passage is probably the most beloved psalm in the Bible. It’s filled with comforting descriptions of green pastures, still waters, a banquet table, and an overflowing cup, all of which point to restoration and God’s abundant goodness and mercy.
But right in the middle of the psalm is “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4). We may be tempted to think this verse doesn’t fit the context, but it actually conveys a core truth about the believer’s life: Although our Shepherd constantly guides and cares for us, we will experience periods of hardship, suffering, and darkness. It’s just part of living in a fallen world.
However, God gives us amazing promises in the midst of the dark valleys. We never walk through them alone, because the Lord promises to be with us. Even when we can’t feel His presence, He is there. And His Word is our primary means of comfort—nowhere else can we find the relief we seek. All our coping methods will leave us empty, but the truths of Scripture assure us of God’s love and strength, which enable us to endure and even grow through difficult experiences.
As the Good Shepherd, Jesus protects and guides His lambs through every trial. Even in dark valleys, we cannot be snatched from Him (John 10:29). His rod beats away predators trying to drag off one of the flock, and His staff’s crooked neck pulls a wandering sheep back from danger.
If you’re presently traveling through a dark valley, remember that the Lord is with you. His goodness and mercy are still following you because your Shepherd never forsakes His beloved lambs.
Bible in One Year: Numbers 20-22