Psalm 23:1-6 (ESV)

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

[2] He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

[3] He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

[4] 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.

[5] You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

[6] Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord


Psalm 23 continues in verse 4 with the song telling us why it is He finds his God such a wonder. No matter what troubles he finds himself in, no matter how close to death he comes, he does not need to fear because He knows that God is right there with him. Christian people have found great consolation and hope in these very famous words for a very long time. The sovereign God of all things is here right now with me in this horrible situation that I find myself in and therefore I do not need to fear.

In verses 2 and 3 we saw that God leads us to the still waters and that He leads us to the paths of righteousness. When we get to verse 4 are we to believe that God had nothing to do with leading the writer to the valley of the shadow of death? Could not God have arranged things so that David did not get to such a place? Does God take us to the place of peace and righteousness and fall asleep when the valley of the shadow of death approaches? Of course not. He led us there and while we are there we need not think that the still waters are far behind us and that the paths of righteousness can be forsaken. The God who leads us beside still waters and into the paths of righteousness is the same God who takes us to the valley of the shadow of death. Part of the purpose for this is so that we can demonstrate the peace and righteousness that are to always mark the true followers of Jesus Christ, no matter where we are found and in what circumstances we encounter.

Trust is easy when everything is going our way. God tests faith. It is no real faith that only sings the praises of God when all is going well. To abandon God or charge Him with doing us ill when things go awry is to show that our faith was not in God but in what He was doing for us. What a marvel it is when we can find fearlessness and comfort even when everything seems to be going against us. Verse 4 makes no mistake that God is as much with us when things are going badly as when they are going well.

And then consider this. If you have a problem with another believer, then God is with him as well. God is working in both of you.

Don’t miss the point He is bringing you to see. He has not abandoned us and He will not. The God who cannot lie has promised not to leave us or forsake us. It is when things are good that we need to know that the most and it is when God causes us to experience it most strongly. The reason why so many do not feel it is because they are often too busy complaining and panicking and trying to come up with their own solutions to the problem. Allow this verse to take you to rest in the God who will do far more beyond what you can ask or think by putting you into the horrible situations that life throws at us. What are you travelling through today? Know that God has not taken a break. He is there with you. He has put you there for a purpose and that purpose is very good. Do not allow this situation to lead you off the path of righteousness or away from the still waters. That is not the reason you are there. God wants you to know that even in this bad thing the still waters are still there for you and that your righteous living is a more powerful testimony.

Oh what God can do through you today if you show that your faith is as thrilled with your Saviour in difficulty as it is in peace and safety. May God be glorified in you today.