No Camping, No Running: Thoughts on Psalm 23

I love words. Spoken, sung, scribbled, screamed…

They house such potency.

A group of words that never fails to ignite my heart while concurrently calming and stirring my spirit is the Psalms, an ancient book of Hebrew songs. Songs of rejoicing and lament. Of praise and perseverance. Songs of uncertainty and determination.

I love the unmasked honesty of the Psalms.

Unarguably, one of the most popular is Psalm 23:

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, 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 runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

This Psalm has brought timely truth to me in many different seasons.

Most recently, verse 4: ” Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me…”

Life isn’t always the mountaintop. Where clarity and perspective reign. Where you stand boldly as a diligent overcomer.

Sometimes, you find yourself in the valley. Where shadowy desolation looms. Where lowness clouds vision.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”

Notice, the author of this honest yet hopeful song says, “though I walk through…”

Weariness might come, but the valley is not a place to tent.

It’s not a place to set up camp and wallow in the pain. The leadership of the Good Shepherd comforts us to press through. Step by step.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”

Notice, the author of this candid yet courageous song says, “though I walk through…”

When we find ourselves in the valley, those distantly surrounding us, with the best of intentions, might challenge us to pick up the pace. “You’re not over that yet?” “Joy comes in the morning! Are you still sleeping or something?”

We don’t need to run through the valley.

Yes, we move forward, but, with a stable and intention-filled stride, we can allow ourselves to deeply feel the terrain beneath our feet.

The leadership of the Good Shepherd comforts us to press through.

Step by step by step.

sheep
Valley-walking sheep in Israel, December 2012.
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