A valley . . . how can such a serene refuge, a place that feels so safe, suddenly turn into an evil lair? When I read Psalm 23:4, I envision myself as a lone sheep who is clueless, ignorant of my surroundings, and grazing my way into a dark gathering of trees centered at the valley floor. I’m unaware of the dark, threatening shadow creeping up behind me until it’s too late and the predator pounces.
This all might sound a little dramatic and contrived, but I think it best illustrates how Satan pursues us with evil intentions. He is a thief, a wolf (John 10:10-12), a lion (I Peter 5:8), a predator. We’re warned to be sober and watchful, but often we fall prey to the adversary. What is the evil spoken of by the psalmist? Natural disaster? Financial loss? Divorce? Hunger? Or is it something more? What would be the worst evil of all? Eternal separation from the Shepherd and death. Notice, the writer doesn’t say he is exempt from evil, but he simply doesn’t fear it.
We all encounter evil and suffering – no one is exempt. Using the world system (I John 2:16), Satan and his diabolical host work to accomplish the greatest evil of all – spiritual abduction and murder. He determined to pull us from the hands of the Good Shepherd – forever. He will growl, threaten, even maim us, sending us running in fear from protection of the Shepherd; confused, terrified, vulnerable. Satan is not some equal and opposite dark opponent to Christ. Instead, using twisted and perverted imitations of the very good and perfect gifts the Father provides (James 1:17), the Evil One allures, entices, and causes doubt. He works day and night to pull us from the abiding presence of the Shepherd using any means available.
Yet, through faith in Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep, we fear no evil. Even when you face death, rest assured – you will never be taken from our Savior’s hands. You will be with Him forever. Absolutely nothing can separate us from His love. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39). Why would we fear anything or anyone else if we don’t even fear death?
Today – right now, the Shepherd has you covered in the dark valley, no matter what or where it is. Walk in the light of His love, for perfect love casts out fear. (I John 1: 7 & 4:18