For Thou Art with Me

“I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4)

Remember the context of this verse: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

The most important phrase in the verse for today is, “For you are with me.”

There is a reason why the psalmist has no fear even though he finds himself in the very depths of the valley of the shadow of death.

“For you are with me.”

You see, even with mere mortals, we receive comfort from one another in the midst of struggle and adversity. Companionship is comfort and strength in the midst of suffering.

“For you are with me.”

Who the “you” is makes all the difference in the world.

God forbid, but if one found themselves in trouble in North Korea, you can certainly take comfort from another in a North Korean jail or concentration camp. But what happens if the “you” who is with you is the dictator Kim Jong Un? What if he was the one who was with you – not just present in the same space as you, but truly “with” you, for you? That guy is above the law in North Korea. He is the law. Now if that guy was with you, for you, that would make all the difference in the world.

Ok. I get it. A dictator is a terrible illustration. But, the thing is the God who is our shepherd is above all.

“For GOD is WITH me.”

Not only is the Good Shepherd your God, but the Good Shepherd is WITH you. Your Good Shepherd who is above all, the LORD of lords, the KING of kings in WITH YOU.

  • Your God wants what is best for you
  • Your God knows what is best for you
  • Your God loves you.

That’s the reason why the psalmist fears no evil even in the very midst of the valley of the shadow of death. Because, GOD is WITH him.

Just as God is with the psalmist, so God is with you.

“For you are with me.”

Now, that’s great news.

The Valleys of the Shadow of Death

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley…” (Psalm 23:4).

The way I learned to memorize the 23rd psalm is, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadows of death.”

The NIV translators instead go with, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley.”

Darkest valley.

Valley of the shadows of death.

Both places sound pretty scary. Both sound like unpleasant and frightening places to be. I

prefer the older translation. If you do too, you would be closer to what the Hebrew actually says because that’s exactly the words the Hebrew uses.

What I find interesting about this portion of the psalm is that the location of one of the most beloved psalm is in one of the most frightening places. The peace that God offers his sheep isn’t only in green pastures and quiet waters. The peace that God offers is also present in the valley of the shadows of death. And, that is what makes this psalm so amazing.

It’s easy to experience peace in green pastures and beside still waters. But that’s not when I need God’s peace the most. The place I need God’s peace the most is when life is scary, hard, threatening. And, this is when you need God’s peace the most too.

The good news is that even in the valley of the shadow of death, even when death is staring you in the face, you need not fear for God’s peace is there too. In fact, the New Testament writers tell us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. There is not a square inch in the created universe where God’s peace is not present.

Life, because it is life, has moments of delight and happiness:

  • the birth of a child
  • the moment you discover the love of your life
  • the moment when you graduate from school

Life, because it is life, has moments of terror and pain:

  • the death of a loved one
  • when you hear the words, “It’s cancer”
  • every failure you’ve ever experienced

No matter what you are facing in life, in both the green pastures and quiet waters and in the very midst of the valley of the shadow of death, God is there. God’s peace is with you.

That’s good news. That’s great news.

For His Name’s Sake

“He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3).

Sheep are defenseless and helpless. Sheep can be mean-spirited and stubborn. Sheep can be quite selfish making life miserable for others.

To top it all off, sheep aren’t the smartest animals in the animal kingdom. Sheep are dumb. Not only that, sheep are inherent followers.

Sheep herders train one sheep to break from the crowd to make its way into the slaughter house, and just as the trained sheep reaches the slaughter house, the herder takes that one out. By then, all the other sheep have followed the trained sheep to the slaughter house. The herders don’t even have to work to herd the sheep. The sheep are natural followers.

This is the reason why sometimes the shepherd has to break the legs of a sheep that wanders off. That one sheep will lead all the other sheep away.

Sheep are defenseless, helpless, mean-spirited, stubborn, selfish, stupid, and inherent followers.

Now do you understand why the bible refers to us sheep?

There is absolutely no reason why the shepherd should love and care for the sheep. But the good shepherd does.

There is no good reason why God should love and care for us. But God does.

Why?

For his name’s sake. That’s what our psalm tells us.

God not only cares for us, but he guides along right paths for his name’s sake.

Thanks be to God..