Line Upon Line with Lawrence Yap
8 September 2020 | Psalm 23
“Even 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.”
David said, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
“I will fear no evil.” What kind of evil?
Spiritual powers. Different type of harm.
Why we will fear no evil?
“Because greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4. He has defeated death. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. “If God is for us then who can be against us.” Romans 8:31
“I will not fear evil”. “Will” implies a choice. It implies an act of decision. Discouragement is sometimes a choice; a pattern of how we respond. We get discouraged easily when we choose to think discouraging thoughts. We’re choosing to look at all the negatives.We’re choosing not to look at Christ and all the positive things.
How not to be so easily discouraged? By focusing on God’s power rather than on your problem. That’s how you do it.
You can take two people and put them in the identical situation – a chaos, tragedy, crisis — one of them will be blown away by it, the other is actually strengthened by it. One of them falls apart, one of them is strengthened through it.
The difference is what you’re focusing on. You need to focus, not on your circumstance, but on Christ. Not on the situation, but on the Saviour. Not on your problem, but on God’s power. Colossians 1:11 “God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient.”
This is important because human energy runs out. After a trial of a certain length of time, you don’t have any energy left. No stamina. Human endurance has an end to it. It runs out. In the valleys of life you need a power source bigger than yourself.
David said, “For You are with me.” God not only promises us His power in the valley, He promises His presence. You will never go through a valley in life by yourself. God has said, “I will be with you.” Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fires of oppression, you will not be burned up – the flames will not consume you.”
Notice – God did not promise that He will deliver us from every situation but He promised that He will be with us in every situation. Why? For divine purposes to be fulfilled. For the training of our faith and character.
David reminds himself that God’s rod and staff comforts him. The rod and staff were the two basic tools that a shepherd used to protect and guide the sheep.
A rod was basically about two feet long, at the end of it was a heavy knot. Shepherds were very skilled at hurling the rod, like a missile, at anything that would attack the sheep. God is saying, “When you go through the valley, I’m defending you. I’m protecting you.” The rod of God will protect you. God says “I’m going to defend you, protect you.”
When you’re going through the valley, the dark valley of life, God is not setting in heaven unconcerned. The Good Shepherd fights for you. While you’re fighting for your life in that depression, God is fighting with you. He’s fighting off spiritual forces. He is your defender and protector. That’s what the rod represents.
“Your staff comforts me.” A staff was a long stick with a crock at the end of it. The shepherd uses a staff to guide and comfort. He will use the staff to draw the sheep in close to him. He will use the staff to lift them up when they’re down. He brings them in close with their staff. He also uses the staff to guide them.
When you go through the valley, you’re not going through it alone. God’s going with you and He’s using His rod and staff to protect and guide.
David says, “When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”
There are three important things about shadows:
1. Shadows are always bigger than the reality.
Fear is always greater than the actual problem. It’s the fear that is enormous.
2. Shadows cannot hurt you.
Ever been run over by a shadow? There is a difference between the shadow of a truck and the truck itself. Shadows are image without substance. They cannot hurt you. They can scare you, but
they cannot hurt you. They are just shadows.
3. There is no shadow without a light somewhere.
When you’re going through a dark valley, you think the sun has stopped shining. God is dead. I’m all alone. You can’t see at all and you think you’re in total darkness. But any time there is a shadow it means there is a light somewhere.
When you start to get afraid of the shadow in the dark valleys of life turn your back on the shadow and look directly at the light and the shadow falls behind you. When you’re afraid, don’t look at the shadow. Turn in the exact opposite direction and look at the light and the shadow falls behind you.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” When you look at Him you cannot be afraid of all the other shadows around you. They fall behind you. If you look at the world you’ll be distressed. If you look within you’ll be depressed. If you look at Christ you’ll be at rest. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Don’t look at the shadows. When you’re walking through the valley, look at the light.
It’s obvious that Christians go through valleys just like everybody does.
Christians have disappointments. Christians get sick. Christians experience tragedies. Christians loose loved ones. Christians have financial problems. God’s people have family problems.
Believers go through valleys just like everybody does. But there is a difference and it’s a big difference. The difference is that while believers and non-believers go through the same valleys of life, the difference for the Christian is not the absence of the shadow but the presence of the Shepherd. God is with you.