“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.”
Sunday, Sept. 30 I had the privilege of leading a short 5-minute sermon at church. I was one of 6 people who spoke on Psalm 23. My assigned verse is listed above.
Each chapter in the Bible has so much to offer us, during my pre-sermon studies I discovered that God’s Word will teach you something new every time you read it, even if it’s one verse!
My Sermon Notes:
When I read (Psalm 23:4) the first thing God highlighted to me was, “the shadow of death.” That is all death is, just a shadow we will all someday pass under, but thanks to Jesus, death will never have the final say, it will never have substance, as 1 Corinthians 15:55 says
“Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?”
The next line, “I will fear no evil” is the assurance that God is enough and that satan stands defeated even while we walk this valley of death. The battle over satan and death is already decided. The battle is not God vs. satan but man vs. satan. We can share in God’s victory!
“You are with me.” God doesn’t trail behind you, He doesn’t begrudgingly walk with you, I believe that He walks in stride with you, hand in hand. Just like He did in the garden of Eden, in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve. “you are with me” implies that God stands beside us, and has a close relationship with us. There is a bond, an agreeance in mind, will, and heart.
Here’s something you can do, next time you are alone with God doing devotions ask God to show you where He was standing in a particular moment in your life when you felt afraid or alone. I believe He will show you and you will be amazed to see that He wasn’t far away but right at your side.
You see, in the moment when you are afraid it’s hard to see or feel God. And that is because fear is imagining a future without Him. It blinds us to the truth and can cripple us spiritually, mentally and physically because we weren’t created to ever feel alone or separated from God’s presence.
Lastly, we read the phrase, “Your rod and staff, they comfort me.”
As a shepherd, you carried roughly two tools, a rod and a staff. The curved handle of the staff was used to pull sheep in when they started to stray off. The rod was used to drive the sheep or discipline them. And either tool worked well against fighting wolves.
Like a father in the wilderness with his child, he will discipline and he will protect, he will guide and he will comfort, and he will walk hand in hand with you because he loves you!
Who here loves discipline? It can hurt! Here’s something I didn’t want to hear when I researched a shepherd’s rod. If a certain lamb strayed off too many times, endangering itself, the shepherd would use the rod to break one or two of its legs. This way the lamb wouldn’t be able to leave and would learn the hard way never to stray too far from the protection of the shepherd. Ouch! We are to find comfort in that? Yes.
(After the sermon a dear friend of mine mentioned that the shepherd most likely carried the lamb over his shoulders with him wherever he went, building trust and dependency)
I’m not saying God will break your legs, but if we ever find ourselves turning from Him, ignoring his call, or not heeding his warnings, we had better hope He will save us from total destruction, that He will remind us that we need Him more than anything and anyone. God doesn’t cause horrible things to happen, but often He works through those times to bring us closer to Him.
I knew someone who never settled down, they were so busy all the time, never stopping. They didn’t listen to God when He warned, “slow down, I didn’t create you to work like this!” Pretty soon that person had an accident that kept them bedridden for months, they were forced to go slow. But they didn’t wallow in self-pity, their faith was renewed and their focus shifted toward God and they were restored in more ways than one.
God cares more about the heart of an individual than the body of an individual. Our body, though important, is only a shell concealing our Spirit, the core of our being. The body will fail us someday, but our hearts will remain. And so, give praise to God during times of discipline, understand that it doesn’t bring him joy to discipline you, but He loves you so much that He would rather you break your leg then be killed by a pack of wolves.
“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”