Today let’s look at the beginning of Psalm 23 verse 4 in the New International Version and compare it with the older King James Version that many are familiar with:
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, (NIV)
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, (KJV)
Rather than look at the differences between the two, notice what is the same: 1.) walking, and 2.) a threat of some kind, maybe even death.
Our natural inclination points us toward either fighting the threat or fleeing it, and either can be the right response depending on the situation. The author, David, however, doesn’t write here either of fighting or fleeing. He made a career out of being good at both, by the way.
The verb he uses here is simply “to walk”. Here’s the thing about walking: it’s slow! It takes a long time to get anywhere while walking. What is David thinking?
It is always dangerous to think we know what is going on in the mind of an ancient author without taking care to look at the context. The immediate context of this walk is everything else in Psalm 23. David is able to take a slow walk through the valley of the shadow of death because his Shepherd leads him.
It is clear that David has confidence in his Shepherd. He can easily bring to mind God’s care for him to this point in his life. He has trained his mind to focus on that truth, and his emotions follow. He remembers, and is confident that God will continue to give him what he needs, even if the threats that face him are ongoing.
The LORD is my shepherd. I lack nothing.
Pastor Mark loves his wife and grown children, the Word of God, and words. And coffee,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)
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