Think about a popular bible passage you love or that beckons to your inner man. I’ll give you 10 seconds to run through your primary/grade school memory verses or most current memory verses.
If Psalms 23 was one that popped up in your mind almost immediately, I have a pretty cool revelation to share with you. If you didn’t, you can get in on the revelation as well. IT’S FREE FOR ALL!!
For those who are not familiar with the bible passage click here
Most of us have heard part of or the entire passage at least once in our lifetime; whether it’s at church during benediction as we prepare to round up the service, or from one of our brothers/sisters in Christ during a quick spiritual pep talk when life seems overwhelmingly burdensome. There’s great power in reciting bible passages, especially when you’re on a spiritual battlefield and you need the weapon of truth; however, I find that in the process of reciting bible passages we sometimes become desensitized to the actual words we speak and risk losing in-depth understanding of the power in the Word.
A few months ago I was physically tested like never before. I was in and out of doctor’s offices and urgent cares, placed on bed rest/ house arrest for a little over a week, and I became frustrated in my spirit because I felt like I was wasting away by simply sitting at home being unproductive. I had no appetite; all I could do was use medications and sleep. I began to reflect on the truth of God’s word concerning me (a critical exercise for EVERY Christian especially during mental/physical battles), and Psalms 23 popped in my mind. One verse that remained with me during that time was verse 4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Through tears I recited the chapter over and over; I felt a sense of peace and comfort after a few repetitions. You see that moment in my life was a very dark scary place; consider it the valley of the shadow of death if you will, it felt like the devil was pressing hard on me on every side, whispering lies into my ears, but I knew I needed to fight the negative thoughts with Truth! I imagined myself walking through a dark valley, looking around, and seeing God walking right beside me, after all the bible says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”( Deuteronomy 31:6) How powerful is that visual?! It’s so comforting, and I knew I would come out strong(er).
After recovering from those illnesses, that verse kept flashing in my mind and ringing in my head. I sensed in my spirit that God had more to show me, so I began to meditate on it. I was WRECKED by what the Holy Spirit revealed to me! We may not always see God walking with us through the storm, but we are sure to feel His presence by the experiences we have during our trials/hard times.
Let’s grasp some key points in the chapter: the first verse begins with a picture of a shepherd “The Lord is my shepherd” which implies that the writer/reader is a sheep. I am a visual learner, so we will be painting many pictures. Let’s picture a sheep and a shepherd. Now I’m not a country girl, but from the little I know about tending/herding sheep, the shepherd is typically behind his flock; the shepherd very seldom (if at all) walks ahead of his sheep with his rod and staff because he needs to be behind them to provide direction, guidance, and correction when the sheep stray. Also, notice the shift in tone from verses 2 and 3 to verse 4 (this shift in tone essentially depicts the emotional highs and lows we are sure to experience in life). And lastly, a valley is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a low period, point, or level.” With that understanding, let’s go back to verse 4.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Imagine YOU (a sheep) walking through the darkest valley, almost unable to see what’s behind you or ahead of you; imagine being surrounded by complete darkness unable to see a way out. When David wrote this, I assume he was going through an experience which he thought was a very VERY dark place. What struck a chord in my spirit was David’s resolution not to fear because of God’s (the shepherd’s) presence with him in the dark place. I meditated on that picture and I asked myself “in the pitch black low period/point how did David know for sure that The Lord was with him?” and *DING* The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to this part of the verse: “for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Not “you comfort me” but “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
David was assured of God’s presence with him in the darkest and lowest of places because he (the sheep) felt the rod and staff of his shepherd, which brought comfort. The rod and the staff grant correction and guidance to the sheep; they also grant the sheep consciousness of the shepherd’s awareness of them and their current situation, which means protection. Following that logic, the Holy Spirit also revealed to me that the rod and staff symbolize signs, wonders, testimonies, and promises to us during our trials/temptations/persecutions/pruning. WOW!
In essence, David was saying “even though I’m walking through this dark and low point/period I’m not afraid. I know you are with me because signs and wonders show that you are aware of me being in this situation, so I feel comforted.” You see, the signs, wonders, e.t.c serve as reminders of God’s love toward us, which assures us that we are always in God’s thoughts (and essentially His presence) despite the fears, worries, and anxieties that create darkness around us during tough times. Sometimes in those seasons we get so weary that the devil encourages us to give up and succumb to the pressures, but the signs and wonders (rod and staff) provide guidance to focus on God instead of the darkness we see.
We have several examples of how men and women in the bible comforted themselves with testimonies and miracles in the midst of the darkest times in their lives when they felt like God was not there. In Psalms 77:3-12(be sure to read it), Asaph seemed to have gone through pain, heartache, and separation from God. He candidly expressed his afflictions, fears and thoughts, which would have depressed him even more. You know what Asaph did after expressing those negative thoughts? he immediately remembered the great works of God. The miracles, the signs, the wonders that he knew to be true of God. Those testimonies served as the rod and staff in this scenario; they helped steer Asaph back to the truth about God’s character and love for him and for mankind. In that moment of reminiscing, I believe that Asaph felt a sense of peace, security, and an assurance that God was indeed still with Him, even though he may not have seen or heard God.
For us, in our modern day walk with God, some of our darkest lowest points in life are places where God uses to strengthen our faith in Him, to chisel out our character to look like His. The rods and staff that comfort us in our darkest valleys may not only mean reminiscing on past miracles and testimonies, they may also mean the actual manifestation of signs and wonders while in the midst of those dark moments.
How many of us have ever had seasons when we felt so far from God or hard of hearing, only to see God supply our deepest needs? How many of us have felt like God led us into a season and left us without direction for a moment, only to discover that the more we moved the more we gained clarity? How many of us have found ourselves bitter and guilty due to committing one sinful act or the other and still realized the miracle of protection, life, or breath? Those are little promptings that God is still aware of us; He has not forgotten us, He still loves us. So we can find comfort even during the darkest, lowest, most painful seasons in our lives. Psalms 23:4 serves as an assurance of restoration into God’s presence, especially when everything around us may depict His absence. As we see in verse 5 and 6; David said “you prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Certainly goodness and mercy will follow me forever,” greatness awaits on the other side. The greatest part about having a modern day walk with God is the disposal of GRACE to us through Jesus Christ! In the deepest, darkest, valleys, we know that God’s grace abounds towards us and sustains us.
The next time you realize that you may be in a dark quiet valley or if you are currently in a dark valley where the devil seems to get louder every minute, and you can’t seem to hear God in that season, look to the great wonders of God and His marvelous grace for comfort and strength to pass through that valley. You are alive; that’s a testimony! You will not die, but live! You have already come through it; I know this because you are MORE THAN A CONQUEROR. The only way to go from here is UP! You will grow through this experience, and you will experience an overflow in Jesus name!
I’d like to provide an opportunity to those who are yet to meet with Jesus. If you have a deep desire to know Jesus and enter into the kingdom of God you are in great company. I did at some point in my life, and it was the greatest desire that God ever met!
I invite you to pray the sinner’s prayer: Dear Jesus, I accept that I am a sinner and I confess my sins before you. I believe that you died for my sins and rose again to give me new life. I ask that you forgive me of my sins; cleanse me with your precious blood which you shed on the cross of Calvary. I accept you as my personal Lord and Savior. Fill me up with your Holy Spirit and strengthen me. I profess that I am a new creature; old things have passed away and I have become new in You. Thank You Lord! In Jesus name, AMEN!
If you prayed the prayer, WELCOME TO THE KINGDOM FAMILY!! Be sure to find a bible believing, Spirit led church in your city and purchase a bible in a version that you understand. I use the New Living Translation, Message, or the New International Version. Enjoy the journey!