Message Recap – 6/10/11 – Psalm 23: Part 4

Friday, June 17, 2011

We are right in the thick of a close study of Psalm 23. It's been awesome! If you've missed the previous messages in the series, be sure to read them here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Now we are digging into verse 4:

Yea, 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.

Pastor Dan is a weight lifter. For many of the exercises he does, one of the main points in correct form is where you look. The same goes for many sports – where you are looking often determines how well you play. When you're driving and you're looking off the side of the road, the car tends to follow your gaze... right into the ditch. Where you are looking is important because you tend to drift in that direction.

Up until this verse, Psalm 23 has all been about what God does and how He leads us. Then in verse 4 it suddenly changes to “I”. “I walk.” Suddenly it's as if He's not leading us.

It's like when you're a kid, out somewhere with your parents and something catches your eye. You wander away and before you know it you're completely lost. “Mom? Dad? They left me!” Actually, you left them.

All through this Psalm we are following God, when suddenly we think, “Ooh, gumdrops and mayonnaise? I'll go this way!” When we come to we realize there are no green pastures, still waters or paths of righteousness in sight. Whoops.

But there's good news! Take a look at what Psalm 139:7-12 says:

I can never escape from your Spirit!

I can never get away from your presence!

If I go up to heaven, you are there;

if I go down to the grave, you are there.

If I ride the wings of the morning,

if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

even there your hand will guide me,

and your strength will support me.

I could ask the darkness to hide me

and the light around me to become night—

but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

Darkness and light are the same to you.

God never gives up on us. Even though we get distracted and start chasing after the candy aisle, He never gives up on us. Even when our wanderings lead us into the valley of the shadow of death. Even when it's our own fault. He never gives up on us.

Even when we're lost in darkness because we made a wrong turn, or even because we are trying to hide. Even in darkness, God sees us and He won't leave us.

The word "valley" in valley of death is referring to a gorge or a canyon. Someplace that we can't climb out of on our own. The shadow of death refers to calamity or disaster. Even in those times, God is with us, His rod and staff help us, correct us and guide us.

Sometimes God's rod corrects our path and we can easily get upset. “God, why are you so pushy? Why are you trying to move me over?” He's guiding us to the best path to exit the canyon of calamity.

Check out the amazing description of God's love found in Romans 8:38-39:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Whether you're doing great or you're doing badly, wandered off course, made some mistakes, God's love is still there. He won't give up on you, He won't leave you! He will guide you through and correct your course at times if necessary. If God gives you a little nudge from time to time, know that He is guiding you away from the cliff edge and back to the path.

Maybe you're afraid. Know that you don't need to fear; God is with you. He wants to guide you through that canyon, through the valley, and back to the green pastures, still waters and paths of righteousness.

Wherever you find yourself, either the highest place or the lowest place, God knows you're there. He sees you, and He's there leading you and guiding you!

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