I will fear no evil, for you are with me. . . .
The picturesque language of Psalm 23 always makes me think about being outside and hiking. I remember hiking an unfamiliar trail with my wife a few years ago. It was early spring, and the trail was bordered by heavy trees on both sides. It was also very muddy, and there was no one else around. It seemed that at any moment some threat could jump out from behind any tree we passed, or from inside the abandoned mines and cabins we hiked past. I’ll admit that I was scared.
The psalmist knew what it was like to follow trails like that. He no doubt drew on his experience of walking through lonely canyons or narrow valleys, ready for a wild animal or an enemy to attack. He knew what it was to be afraid. But he also knew what it was to be led by God—the good shepherd—through frightening places. God had taken care of him throughout his whole life—and even when things seemed most frightening, he knew he didn’t need to be afraid because God was with him.
Our lives are filled with dark valleys—times when everything seems to be out to get us or there seems to be no comfort. During those times we need to remember that God is with us, watching over us and guiding us. He will bring us through to green pastures and will restore our souls.
Good Shepherd, when we are walking through dark valleys, help us not to be afraid. Lead us through and restore our souls. In Jesus, Amen.