Do you need to know that the Lord has not forgotten about you? Are you desperate for a glimmer of hope in a world that seems to be falling apart? In Psalms 23 we find assurance that the Lord never leaves us.
“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.” Psalms 23: 4
The Hebrew word used for “shadow of death” is ‘salmawet’ and it means deep darkness. Most Christians would say that it is easy to believe that God holds us tightly when things are going well. But what about those times of deep darkness? It doesn’t feel quite as certain; does it? God tells us here that we do not have to fear evil in that valley because the One who made the valley, the One who allowed the shadow, the One who allowed the deep darkness is always with us.
I am reminded of Moses and how he had led those griping, complaining, moaning, mumbling Israelites out of Egypt and toward the Promised Land. He had been faithful to God, yet the Israelites seemed to constantly be testing God.
Eventually God’s patience wore out with the Israelites and He tells Moses to take the Israelites on to the Promised Land but that His Presence would not go with them. In his despair, Moses pleads with God to not send them on without His Presence. God finally relents and agrees to go with them. Moses asks God to show him His glory, perhaps as a sign of good faith.
Exodus 33: 19-23 gives us the Lord’s reply to Moses:
And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
Could it be that in our darkest times, when we are going through that place of deep darkness, when we think that God has completely abandoned us—could it be that He simply has placed us, like Moses, in a cleft in the Rock and He has His hand over us while His glory is passing by?
Psalms 23: 5 gives us even more reason to remember that God has not forgotten about us. It says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
Did you get that? Picture a wonderfully prepared table with all the finest food, the most beautiful china, the most exquisite crystal. Imagine that you are the guest of honor and Jesus is your host. Jesus leads you to your seat; you place the delicate linen napkin in your lap and gaze at the tablescape.
Jesus looks at you and eagerly asks, “Do you like it? I prepared it just for you! Taste it all.”
Your anticipation is almost too much to bear. You begin to try the food and find it to be the most delicious food you have ever tasted. The entire meal and setting are luxurious and the unbelievable thing is that Jesus did all that just for you.
Oh, but wait, who is that slouched over in the corner? It’s your enemy, Satan, and he doesn’t look at all happy, especially since he seems to be tied to his seat. Jesus, the One who died for you and who will never lose or abandon you, has spoiled you rotten right in front of your enemy and forced Satan to sit there and watch.
When you and I are in those places of deepest darkness we can be assured that God has His hand over us and that He makes certain the enemy of our souls knows that we are His beloved. Rejoice! If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior you truly are His beloved!!