Embedded in Psalm 23 is a short phrase which reveals to us what we truly are, and were we truly live. But more importantly, it reveals to us the One who is sovereign, and whose benevolent and good hand is upon us, with a grip that will never let us go, and who will always BE as the Psalmist declares, “…MY Shepherd.”
Psalm 23 begins so beautifully, declaring what the Lord is, the Shepherd, and what we are, sheep. The picture is a very colorful one, depicting the fact that “…I shall not want, ” because we are complete in Christ, and that He is with us. He leads us beside still waters, restores the soul, and leads us in His righteousness through life. But then we come to “….the valley of the shadow of death,” and all of a sudden, it appears that the picture dims, and the beauty that once was there, is gone. But, what we fail to see is the One who is greater than the shadow, One that has overcome all darkness. He IS the Eternal Light, who will not fail or forsake us.
The Psalmist says, in light of the “dark” or somber moments in life, “…I WILL FEAR NO EVIL.” It is amazing to see how many times in the Bible we are commanded not to be afraid. And the reason is ALWAYS the same, “I am with you.” Primarily, fear becomes a very real enemy because we anticipate losing something, or someone. Jairus feared to lose his daughter. The disciples feared to lose their lives in the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Joshua, face to face with the enormous responsibility of leading Israel into the promised land, needed to be instructed by the Lord, “…Have not I commanded thee, …be strong and of a good courage, …be not afraid, nor be dismayed.” Again, why? “For the Lord they God is WITH thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Josh.1:9)
There are many reasons for which we can be afraid. The word “evil” is given the meaning of: ” adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displease, displeasure, distress, evil, evil favoredness, evil man, evil thing, exceedingly, great, grief, grievous, harm, heavy, hurt, hurtful, ill, ill-favored…” (Strong’s). What we see here is a multitude of “enemies,” all represented by one word, “evil.” And the context tells us that we can be faced with them when we are most vulnerable, and weak. But, herein lies the great blessing, the revelation of one greater than all, who has overcome all of this and more, declaring, “…It is finished, ” “I am with you.” And, “…nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.”
It was John Wesley, when he lay dying, said: “The greatest thing is that God IS with us.” It was Charles Spurgeon who said when he was close to going to be with the Lord, “(My theology has become rather simple…)’ Jesus loves me this I KNOW, for the Bible tells me so.'” Why could these men be so serene at such a time as that? Because they KNEW the One to whom they had entrusted all, and He had become totally responsible for them.
And so, let us look at the Great Shepherd, who has taken us into His heart, made us His own, and who has conquered all fear. Let us choose to fear not, for anything, for He is faithful. Let us remember that we lack nothing, forever, in Him, and that “He prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: He anoints my head with oil; my cup runneth over…” In other words, He anoints us daily with fresh oil, the oil of the Spirit, to know His joy and fullness…and this in the context of a world that He has overcome perfectly, entirely.
If we are to follow Him, we must needs be fearless. And if we are to be fearless, all must be entrusted to Him without reserve. And perhaps most important of all, we must believe that the Faithful One has received the offering of our hearts, will guide, provide for, and keep…without fail. He cannot deny what He is…faithful. It is to those who will trust Him wholly, who will find Him wholly TRUE.