Psalm 23 is probably one of the best known chapters in the Bible. It’s one of the first ones we memorize as kids. It’s in almost every funeral scene on TV and in the movies. They always quote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” When we hear it so many times or have it memorized as kids, we lose deeper meaning in it because it is in our rote memory and not in our hearts.
I recently read that chapter in the Message to see a different angle beyond my rote memory. I saw something I had never caught because I had always looked at it or thought of it in King James English. If we look at the scripture quoted above and the end of the one before it in the Message, we see, “(You) send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk by my side.”
What I see in that is the “right direction” that God sends us in can lead us through Death Valley. We like to equate good times with being in God’s will and bad times with being out of it. Here we see that the direction God sends us in can lead us through difficult times. The good news is also that we don’t have to be afraid in those times because God is by our side. He’s there walking through the valley with you.
I know I’ve shared this before, but this made me think of the promise God spoke to me as I walked through the darkest valley of my life. He said, “I have not left you, nor forsaken you. I am by your side walking through this with you. I’m not in front of you or behind you. I am by your side walking with you.” I had never seen that word from Him in connection with this scripture until now. I just knew that when He spoke it, my fear of an uncertain future left.
The Amplified version refers to Death Valley as “the deep, sunless valley.” In those dark days when there is no light, no future, no promises to hold onto; God is there walking with you. He sees the road and uses His rod to protect us and His staff to guide us. When there is no light, you learn to fully trust Him to get you through Death Valley. You rely on Him to show you where the path is that leads out of that valley. Your faith and trust in Him grows deeper than it ever could in the light on a mountain top.
If you’re in Death Valley today, don’t assume it’s because you’ve taken a wrong turn. Even Job’s friends tried to convince him that he had hidden sin that caused his time in the valley. He was one who was upright and walked through Death Valley with God at his side. You can too. God is by your side in that deep, sunless valley today. He’s there to protect you and to guide you. Don’t leave His side. He hasn’t left yours. The “right direction” will soon lead you out of this temporary time in the valleys it’s a deeper trust in Him.