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 ESV —

Psalm 23 is one of the Bible’s most well-known passages, however, the more familiar you are with something, the more details you can miss.

For instance, did you catch the shift in the proximity to the Shepherd near the middle of the Psalm? Verses 2-3 refer to the Shepherd as “He,” but once they enter the valley of the shadow of death in verse 4, the Shepherd is no longer “He,” but “You.” That small difference has huge implications.

The valley of the shadow of death is a real place in Israel (I’ve driven through it!). When a shepherd walks his sheep through that valley, he doesn’t just lead way out in the front, he walks among them, often touching them with his staff or rod to remind them of his near proximity. His rod and his staff comfort them because they remind them that he’s close, and ready to protect them.

Jesus, our Shepherd is always with us, but He’s even closer to us in the valley. Although your “valley of the shadow of death” may be figurative, it’s no less scary or painful. Thankfully, your Shepherd, the Good Shepherd, is present. He has not given up or left. He isn’t scared, and He won’t leave you behind. He’s with you. Trust Him.


K E V I N • M I L L E R

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