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“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Why would a good shepherd lead his sheep into a valley fraught with danger and death threats? There’s only one possible answer: “To get to a better place!” David was confident, not only about his present circumstances, but of grace in the future that would see him all the way home. He believed that valley times were appointed for His good. He learned things about God that could be learned no other way than in the deep ravines of life. He stayed close to the shepherd, and trusted in God’s protection and guidance all the way. Because he could say, “The Lord is my shepherd,” he could walk through the darkest of valleys. Remember God is with you! His rod protects you. Because He loves you, His rod corrects you. With His staff God guides you through rocky ravines and even goes gets you when you stray.
“You set a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:5-6
God invites you to feast at His table. He sets His table with an abundance of all good things: goodness, lovingkindness, mercy, salvation, and wisdom. When we sit down at His table our infirmities are hidden as we dine as one of the King’s children. The communion table affords us the opportunity to remember all that Christ did for us (1 Corinthians 10:16). We must not allow our heart to be drawn to what is evil, to crave the world’s delicacies. It is deceptive food. Instead we are sent out like sheep among wolves. We must be shrewd in dealing with unbelievers but also be careful not to lose our innocence. We cannot afford to get pulled into flesh and blood battles. People are not our enemy. We need not fear those who can kill the body, but have no power over our soul (Matthew 10:28). Christ will put all enemies under His feet and the final enemy to be destroyed is death.
To go deeper, read Psalm 23 then take some time to answer the questions below.
Why would a good shepherd lead his sheep into a valley filled with danger? Why is the valley mentioned in the middle of this Psalm? What does this say about God’s intention toward us (Jeremiah 29:11)? What does the rod and the staff represent? Why would these tools of the shepherd bring comfort? What should be our greatest and ultimate source of comfort?
Why does God set aside feast days in the Bible? What are some of the things you can find at God’s table? How is the food at God’s table different than the food at the world’s table? Why should we keep our appetites in check? What is ultimately at stake?
What should our attitude be toward our enemies? In what ways can we get drawn into fighting the wrong battles? Instead of fighting flesh and blood battles, what should be our focus (Luke 14:23 and Matthew 22:9)? Why should we not fear those who can kill the body? What is the last enemy to be destroyed?
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Scriptures used in this teaching: Luke 12:32; Psalm 23:1-6; Luke 1:78-79; Matthew 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 50-59; Romans 8:28; Hebrews 13:5-6; Matthew 28:20; 1 Samuel 17:34-35; Micah 7:14; Proverbs 13:24; Hebrews 12:6; Psalm 94:12, 119:75; Proverbs 3:12; Psalm 78:72; Psalm 78:1-8, 18-20; Proverbs 23:1-3; Psalm 141:4; 1 Corinthians 10:16; Proverbs 9:1-6; Matthew 10:16; Ephesians 6:11-13; 1 Corinthians 15:26