THIS SERIES: WHEN IT'S GOOD TO CHANGE YOUR MIND
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.
Because we live in a fallen world, whether we like it or not, our journeys are strewn with difficulties; the enemy of our souls having one purpose alone: to bring destruction. Sometimes these shadows in our lives are merely minor irritations, other times they are the stuff of nightmares.
The thing about shadowy places is that the sun is blocked out. We know intellectually it hasn’t gone anywhere—it’s still out there—but for this particular period we can’t feel its warmth, and the change in temperature has a psychological effect. Shadows also tend to suggest alternative realities, indistinct shapes provoke fears; and sounds which are ignored in broad daylight take on new significance in the gloaming. It is easy to see before the days of electric light how the shadows of twilight and darkness became the home to all sorts of ghouls and malevolent forces, both real and imagined.
And yet David made this joyful declaration. Even in his extremity David had discovered the amazing truth; sun or shadow, ‘You are with me!’ The shadows are real enough, but there is a greater reality - the sun is still out there, despite our ‘experience’ to the contrary; God is with us.
Fear rises in shadowy places: fear that we are alone; fear of the evil that lurks in the darkness; fear that we will not make it through safely. Evil has an illusory nature; it puffs itself up, becoming large in our imagination. However, the truth is our Shepherd has promised He will never leave us or forsake us—and in His Presence, peace returns.
In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
As a shepherd, David knew all about the danger of attack; it was his job to defend the flock from lions, bears, and any other predators. The shepherd’s rod which was sometimes used to prod sheep away from danger was particularly important as a weapon of protection, the rod of authority wielded against opposing forces; and his staff was an essential means of support when walking through difficult terrain. David recognised that the Lord was shepherding him in the same way; no wonder the divine rod and staff used on his behalf gave him comfort.
The New Testament says that ‘Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour’ [1 Peter 5:8]; but it is also clear that our Shepherd is equal to all of his attacks. His rod of authority has been raised up victoriously in the Cross, the lion has been rendered toothless by the One who works all things for our good [Romans 8:28]; and in this we can find comfort and peace.
THIS WEEK’S GRACE RHYTHM
For more on the importance of declaring truth over your life, see THE POWER OF THE SPOKEN WORD.
And be blessed and encouraged by this beautiful song from Martin Smith...
NEXT WEEK: ENJOY THE FEAST
Our Lord has paid such an incredible price so we can feast at His table. Let’s laugh in the face of the enemy and enjoy the banquet.
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[Photo credits: Simon Berger (forest); Mathew Schwartz (eclipse); Brett Jordan (letters); Nik Shuliahin (armour)
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