Psalm 23: Part 4
Text: Psalm 23:4, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me: Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me” is A Testimony of Security.
There is a valley called The Valley of the Shadow of Death in Palestine. It is located beyond the hills of Bethlehem and toward the Dead Sea. A spring breaks forth at the foot of the Mt. of Olives 2700 feet above sea level, about 1/2 mile high, and starts a valley that through the centuries has cut deep into the earth. It goes all the way to the Dead Sea, 1300 feet below sea level. Today, it is called the “Wadi Kelt” on the maps. When we visit Jerusalem, we were able to travel on the narrow road that was cut through this valley. Believe me, it is forlorn and scary. One would not want to be there alone.
It is really a little Grand Canyon, 1500 feet deep in some places. In Bible times, the bear, the lion, the leper, the hyena, and robbers waited in the shadows and the caves to spring upon the flocks and the shepherd. It was a treacherous valley – a dark valley of perpetual shadows and dangers.
It was a valley through which all shepherds had to lead their sheep. In the winter, they would pasture at Jericho. When the spring rains came in the Judean Desert, the hills would break forth with flowers and green grass. The shepherds would turn their flocks out of the lowlands into the mountains to the spring pastures, through this, the valley of the shadow of death. They named it “Shadow of Death” because the possibility of danger and death was always present when they entered it.
This valley could just as well be named the “Valley of Worry and Fear.” The uncertainty of what they might encounter could very well produce both in the hearts and minds of those who entered.
David did not worry about nor fear this valley as he entered it. He knew who his Shepherd was and he knew what He was able to do. For David, it was a walk in the park. He knew he wasn’t walking alone. “…I will fear no evil for Thou art with me: Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.”
What About the Valley Experience? Each one of us at some point in our Christian walk will encounter a valley to pass through that will try to produce worry and fear in us. What will be a comfort to us when this happens? The answer is the promises of God and the Holy Spirit. They become His presence – His rod and His staff that will be a comfort to us when this happens.
- Does your valley worry you so much you can’t sleep?God will ease your fears.” When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24).Does your valley cause you to worry about your safety? God will protect you.“The Lord will keep you from all harm; He will watch over your life; The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121: 7-8).
- Does your valley cause you to worry because you face opposition?God is with you.“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). Does your valley cause you to be depressed? God will comfort you.“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).Does your valley cause you to be depressed? God will comfort you.“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
- Does your valley cause you to be afraid of feeling alone? God will never leave you.“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:” (Deut. 31:6).“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you:” (John 14:18).
- Does your valley cause you to be worried, anxious, afraid, or troubled? God will give you peace. “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God: trust also in Me…Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14: 1,17).
- Does your valley cause you to be worried about the future? God will guide you.“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5).
- Does your valley cause you to be depressed? God will comfort you.“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
- Does your valley cause you to worry because you face opposition?God is with you.“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).
- Does your valley cause you to worry about your safety? God will protect you.“The Lord will keep you from all harm; He will watch over your life; The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121: 7-8).
- Does your valley worry you so much you can’t sleep?God will ease your fears.” When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24).
Psalm 23: Part 5
Text: Psalm 23:5, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over,” A Testimony of Safety.
With this verse the image of the Psalm suddenly changes. We are no longer in the field but in a palace. The Lord is now the gracious host. He prepares a table. He anoints the head, and He pours a cup. Our perception of God will determine our personal relationship with Him. God wants us to know that He has welcomed us and that He loves us. In this verse we see three marks of God’s great love and hospitality.
The Preparation of The Table – How important and special we are to Him. He prepares the table.
The Anointing of The Head – A wealthy home would have had an expensive vessel of perfumed oil by the door. It would be used for special occasions when distinctive company came to visit. If a wonderful friend from far away, or a loved one dear to ones heart would pay a visit, they would be greeted at the door, hands The host would dip his hands into that precious ointment and the head of the incoming guest anointed. This act meant that they were very special. This is truth: you are special to God!
The Overflowing Cup – In Bible times, there were no motels and restaurants. It was the custom if a traveler stopped at ones house, they were to be given entrance and a meal prepared for them. However, no other obligation was expected from the host. Only a meal and then the traveler could be sent on his way. If the person dining with you were quite interesting, or you really wanted him to stay, you would tell him in so many words. You would fill his glass to overflowing. When he saw it he would look up and smile and thank you for the invitation. However, if you wanted him to leave, you would fill his glass half full. That meant that after dessert – hit the road traveler! The host in verse five is a picture of Jesus and of the blessings we receive from Him.
The Fullness We Have in Jesus: “Thou preparest a table…” Full sheep are happy sheep, but the sheep must have a table land prepared for them because of their enemies. The shepherd would go ahead from time to time to seek out and prepare safe feeding places. Think of the times when the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus prepared the table. Read Psalms 78: 19-22 and note the four different tables.
1. A table of Replenishment.
2. A table of Restoration
3. A table of Remembrance
4. A table of Rejoicing
The Freshness We Have in Jesus: “He anoints my head with oil..” David remembered how he would anoint the heads of his sheep.The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians1:21-22, “Now He which stablisheth you in Christ, and hath anointed us is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” Thank God for the freshness of that anointing. See Psalms 92:10 and Psalms 45:7.
The Freeness We Have in Jesus: “My cup runneth over.” Our God is the God of more than enough. John 10:10, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.