The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even 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.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
– Psalm 23:1-6 (ESV)
The topography of Israel is very diverse. To the south, the land is a low lying, dry and hot desert. To the north, there are large mountains. To the west lies a fertile and moderate coast. If you were to start your day in Jerusalem, you may need shorts and a tee-shirt to be comfortable in the heat. In less than a day’s journey, you could find yourself in a winter parka scaling a snow capped mountain.
The land is full of mountains and valleys. Some of the land is great for farming; others is a desert waste. Israel’s geography creates a perfect illustration of the ups and downs in our own lives. Sometimes we are on the mountain top; other times we are in the valley. One day we may have fruitful fertile lives; the next we can struggle through the desert.
Christians should especially understand that life is not always lived on the mountain top. God doesn’t just allow valleys to interrupt our business. He intentionally draws us down to the valley. God Himself has a purpose for every stage of our lives. And He promises his presence and protection for every stage.
Psalm 23 paints this beautifully. God “leads me beside still waters” in verse 2 and is still with me in verse 4 when I “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” It is God’s presence that gives us comfort in the valley. It is God’s sovereignty that lets the writer proclaim in verse 1, “I shall not want.” Even in the valley when we have the least, we lack nothing because God is with us.
Perhaps you’re in a valley. Fear not! There is nothing you lack because God is with you. Do not lose heart – the God who brought you to the valley will bring you out. And you will dwell in His house forever.