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God’s Word for You

Psalm 23:4 You with me

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, May 24, 2018

4 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 staff comfort me.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “valley of the shadow of death”? Is it a place of great danger? Is it a place of unexpected dangers, like a spookhouse on Halloween? Is it a journey through all the hardships and fears of life?

Imagine young David at the Valley of Elah. He brought lunch to his brothers and the sun was high in the sky. After consulting with his brothers (Get out of here, squirt!), with the soldiers (Get out of here, punk!), and with Saul (you’re unarmed, kid!), he was ready to fight Goliath (are you coming after me with sticks, little dog?!). But first, there was an extra hour wasted while he tried on Saul’s armor. Too heavy! He gathered up a handful of two- and three-inch sling stones and went down into the valley. The sun had hurtled into the west, behind the Philistine army, and now the valley was dominated by one growing feature in the lengthening afternoon: Goliath’s own impossibly long shadow. For all the onlookers, it was David’s valley of the shadow of death.

Ultimately, the valley of the shadow of death is death itself, “the undiscovered country,” as one Englishman put it a generation after Luther (in a play about a student from Luther’s own University of Wittenberg, wrestling with life and death issues using some suspiciously Luther-an language).

Death, however, has no hold over the believer, even if it still gives a believer cause to be nervous and frightened—not so much of death itself, sometimes, as of the pain of actually dying. But the thought of being without our loved ones—which is some of the sting of death—is undercut and softened by the knowledge that we will see them again in heaven.

I don’t remember ever having such a lump in my throat as the first time I heard one of my children counting off his whole family on his fingers: “Mama, daddy, baby.” In the middle of this verse (which is the middle of the Psalm), David says: “For you are with me.” But in his original Hebrew, David didn’t even bother to use a verb. His language is much more elementary—like a baby counting off his family: “you with me.”

Imagine the devil with all his array of temptations, demons, pressuring peers, lusts, and sin-riddled memories piling up in reserve for an attack like a vast army of tanks, troops, ships, planes, and drones, all against you alone.

Is there anything to fear? “You with me.” The creator—excuse me, Creator—of the universe is on your side! That’s comfort. That’s confidence. That’s reassurance. That’s God’s word for you.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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