In the Valley Without the Shepherd

Psalm 23 is one of the most beloved passages in all of Scripture, and rightfully so. It is a beautifully poetic reminder of the gentle comforting that the Great Shepherd provides His children as they go through trials. Here it is in it’s entirety:

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
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 your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

I’m reading slowly through a book by Paul Miller called A Praying Life: Connecting With God in a Distracting World. I hope to review it when I’m finished.

In Chapter 10, Miller talks about the ways that cynicism kills our prayer life. In the midst of the valley, cynicism focuses on the darkness and removes the Shepherd’s gentle care. He says:

Our modern, secular world has removed the Shepherd from Psalm 23. Look what happens to the psalm when you remove the Good Shepherd and everything he does:

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
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 your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies
;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever
.

We are left obsessing over our wants in the valley of the shadow of death, paralyzed by fear in the presence of our enemies. No wonder so many are so cynical. With the Good Shepherd gone, we are alone in a world of evil.

Miller, Paul (2009-05-15). A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (Kindle Locations 1194-1209). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

He goes on to say that the cure for cynicism is to shift our focus away from our present circumstances and onto the Shepherd Himself. He points out that Jesus, in His last moments of life, did not wallow in His despair, but lifted His attention upward, to the only One who gives comfort in the midst of the darkest valleys.

The valley is a dark and dangerous place to be without the Shepherd to guide. May we keep out eyes fixed on the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His helpless sheep.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Prayer, Shepherding. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s