The middle portion of Psalm 23 begins with a commitment to renew your strength and to lead you along paths that are true. These comforting assurances are exactly what is needed to walk through the dark valleys of life. David understood well how dark these valleys can be. His song is filled with the emotions of loss, betrayal, grief, guilt, and sadness. He knew intimately the depth of despair that inhabits these valleys.
Remember that David’s own sons attempted to take away his kingdom. One wanted to kill him. David knew loneliness and betrayal. He often had good reason for fear for his life and safety. Yet in the face of these anxiety-laden circumstances, he drew comfort that the Lord was his Shepherd. David knew that even in the dark valley he was in God’s green pastures. David knew that God’s care was based upon God’s faithfulness to him and not his understanding of his circumstances. Listen to his song:
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
His Shepherd, would always protect him and guide him, even in the fog and fear of anxiety. David knew God had prepared the journey in the valley just as surely as he had also prepared a table of feasting for him. The fog of darkness may blind our sight, but through the light of faith, you can see the reality of your shepherd caring for you, guiding you, protecting you.
David’s song is not meant only for the grave-side. His song is for all of life. When you are lost, afraid, and in the fog of darkness, your shepherd has you in his grasp. He will never leave you or forsake you. David anticipates the words of Christ as the good, faithful Shepherd:
“My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Your Shepherd is there with you in the dark valleys of life. He is there in the fog. He is committed to you. You can believe him because he has given his life for you. Your loving Shepherd is for you, nothing can stand against you.
David understood that the only way to make sense of life is to live for the honor of God. Even in the dark fog, there was a path that would bring honor to his God. This is what he lived for. Even when he was hurting and anxious he knew that following the path of bringing honor to God was the place of safety and peace. This was the path that led to the green pastures fed by the living waters of faith.
You can know the peace and renewed strength of God as you pursue his honor. This is where you find strength in the valley of anxiety.