“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” (Psalm 23:4).
In this verse David moves into another word picture, walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Both ‘valley’ and ‘shadow’ are referring to emotions we feel at troubled times in our lives. We’ve all been through that valley and out on the other side. Fortunately, on the other side of every valley is a another mountain top. We don’t dare get stuck in the valley as some people do. I remember an aged lady in Betz’s Nursing Home whose husband had divorced her years ago. She still talks bitterly about it. She is stuck in the valley. David reminds himself (and us) that no matter how dark it gets in that valley, he doesn’t have to fear evil, because God is with him.
The other element that carries him through the valley is that the Shepherd’s rod and staff comfort him in the journey. The rod and staff were the two purposes of the shepherd’s staff that the Good Shepherd used in caring for the sheep. The crooked end of the staff was used for rescuing sheep which might fall over a precipice. The rod was the disciplinary use of the staff when a lamb became a stinker. Both of these were there to give comfort to David.
When was the last time you considered the Lord’s chastening a comfort to you?