“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:4, NIV
1st Sunday-You Will Get Through It!
A very thoughtful, yet persuasive exegete and student of the Bible, said of a woman who grieved profusely each year upon the anniversary of her infant’s death: “The valley of [grief] was always there casting its shadow over her life.” In spite of all the sunrises and bright days in life, there are shadows looming somewhere to test each of us. It was in deep and dark valleys the sheep feared most. The little light that penetrated those areas, always produced ominous shadows. The Hebrew word translated “shadow” in Psalm 23:4, is tsalmaveth, which means a “place of calamity.” We should make no mistake, nor should we be naive, when unexpected crises confront us, like the sheep we will clamor for a safe place. In this life, there are other places along our journey where the waters are not calm. Torrent floods will surround us, and the light of pastures green will turn to darkness. But, with God as our guide there is another side to life’s equation. The dismal valley is not a permanent place, but a hard one! Jeremiah speaks of this unpleasant place. He chided Israel for not thanking God for bringing them out of Egypt. God brought them from “a land of deserts and pits, a land [valley] of drought and death” (cf. Jeremiah 2:6b, NLT). Job rightly described the place of his crisis as “a land as dark as midnight, a land of gloom and confusion, where even the light is dark as midnight.” The good news is that in the foreboding, yet temporary shadows, “We do not have to be afraid, for you [God] are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” The last part of the Hebrew word (maveth) means “danger.” The first part of the word (tsal), used alone, means “to shade” or to “protect!”