Lessons In The Valleys:
The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death
Part One

Before he was a king, David was a shepherd. He knew all the responsibilities and requirements of a shepherd. He knew how to care for and protect his own sheep. As a believer, he knew the contentment and satisfaction of being one of the Lord’s sheep. The Lord was David’s Shepherd. Like an earthly shepherd cares for his sheep in all ways – feeding, watering, leading, protecting from the dangers of the wild, nurturing – so too does the Lord God care for His sheep.
Psalms 23:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

In order for the Lord to be your Shepherd, you must be one of His sheep.

Has there ever been a time and place in your life when you have repented of your sin (turned from sin in your heart, turned from going your way) and turned to the Saviour to save you?

The Bible teaches in Leviticus 17:11, that the blood of an animal sacrifice must be shed to cover our sins, “for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” The Biblical requirement for the sacrifice was for a lamb to be slain and its blood poured on the altar, a lamb without blemish or defect. All of the Old Testament sacrifices pictured Jesus Christ (the Lamb of God, the Passover Lamb) who would one day die for the sins of all mankind.

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

1 Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

When Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross, He paid the complete penalty for sin that we deserved. He was our substitute – He suffered the wrath of God for sin in our place. He was buried in a borrowed tomb and then arose triumphantly three days later. He is alive forevermore, willing to save all those who come to Him in repentance and faith. Have you received God’s free gift of salvation? (See John 1:12; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 6:23) Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour? If you have, from that moment on the Lord made you a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) – you became one of His sheep and He became your Shepherd.

The Lamb of God who died and arose is also the Shepherd of His sheep.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him (Christ) the iniquity of us all.

1 Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

“…one property of a good shepherd is, skill to know and judge aright of his sheep, and hence is it that it is a usual thing to set mark upon sheep, to the end that if they go astray (as of all creatures they are most subject to wander), the shepherd may seek them up and bring them home again. The same thing is affirmed of Christ, or rather indeed Christ affirms the same thing of himself, “I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27. Yea, doubtless, he that hath numbered the stars, and calleth them all by their names, yea, the very hairs of our head, taketh special notice of his own children, “the sheep of his pasture”, that they may be provided for and protected from all danger it is the property of a good shepherd, that if any of his sheep be weak and feeble, or his lambs young, for their safety and recovery he will bear them in his arms. The Lord is not wanting to us herein. Isaiah 40:11. And lastly, it is the property of a good shepherd to rejoice when the strayed sheep is brought home. The Lord doth thus rejoice at the conversion of a sinner. Luke 15:7.” (Quote from Samuel Smith on Psalm 23:1, The Treasury Of David, C.H. Spurgeon)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Jesus has compassion on the lost and longs to be their Shepherd. During His public ministry, He wanted to teach them the Gospel (the good news of salvation – see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 1:16); He wanted to seek and to save that which was lost; He wanted to gather the lost sheep and bring them into His fold. He still does!

Matthew 9:36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

Mark 6:34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and He began to teach them many things.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Luke 15:3-7 And He spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

The Shepherd loves and cares for His sheep. The word want – as used here in the King James Bible – means to lack, to go without. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Shepherd, has promised to meet all the needs of His sheep when they walk with Him and do His will. (See Matthew 6:25-34; Romans 8:32; Psalm 34:9; 84:11; Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 13:5; 2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Peter 1:3-4)

Psalms 23:2-3 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

With Jesus Christ the Shepherd leading the way in the paths of righteousness, it is our duty simply to follow Him. Therein lies full assurance and safety. No one can ever take us away from the Shepherd or separate us from His love!

John 10:4 And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice.

John 10:27-30 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Green pastures of abundance and blessings, still waters of peace and contentment. There is a saying that “still waters run deep,” and it is so true – there is no turbulence within. The peace that Jesus gives passes all understanding, is perfect (complete), and is not of this world. (See Philippians 4:6-7; Isaiah 26:3-4; John 14:27 and 16:33) His is a spiritual peace within, regardless of outward circumstances. When you have His peace within your heart and mind, you can face all that He allows into your life, knowing that the Lord has a purpose and plan to it, and that He is working out all things for your good in order to make you more like Himself. (See Romans 8:28-29)

There may indeed be times in our lives where the waters are temporarily stirred up by outward or inward strife, but when we put our eyes back on Jesus, He will calm the waters again. “Peace, be still!” (See Mark 4:37-39; Psalm 107:23-32; 46:10)

Charles Spurgeon has made this refreshing application of the green pastures: “What are these green pastures but the Scriptures of truth — always fresh, always rich, and never exhausted? There is no fear of biting the bare ground where the grass is long enough for the flock to lie down in it. Sweet and full are the doctrines of the gospel; fit food for souls, as tender grass is natural nutriment for sheep. When by faith we are enabled to find rest in the promises, we are like the sheep that lie down in the midst of the pasture; we find at the same moment both provender and peace, rest and refreshment, serenity and satisfaction. But observe: He maketh me to lie down. It is the Lord who graciously enables us to perceive the preciousness of his truth, and to feed upon it. How grateful ought we to be for the power to appropriate the promises!” (Comments on Psalm 23:2, The Treasury Of David, C.H. Spurgeon)

When we walk with the Saviour, He gives us rest and refreshing. He also quickens and revives us when our spirits get cold, when sin has cooled our fervour for the Lord. He brings us back to Him, and draws us ever closer. Upon true repentance and confession of our sin, He freely pardons His childrens’ waywardness.

Psalms 119:176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Thy servant; for I do not forget Thy commandments. (See also verses 67, 71, 75, 107)

Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

1 John 1:6-7, 9 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When Christians walk in sin, the mud and filth of the world gets on us, and we need to turn from the sin and confess it to the Lord in order to have the mud washed off again. The word cleanseth in the verse above is in the present tense and means continual cleansing. As we walk with Jesus Christ in the light of His Word, His blood will continually cleanse us, and the filth of the world will not cling to us.

Here is a picture that will help get the idea across: Imagine your life as a small stone lying on a muddy riverbank. When you allow sin into your life, it is as if the mud was clinging to you. Confession of sin results in the mud being washed off again, but you are still lying on the riverbank where the mud abounds. If we walk in the light of God’s Word day by day, and maintain our fellowship with our Heavenly Father, then it is as if we were in the midst of the flowing river – sure, there is mud there, but it does not cling to us, we are continually being cleansed through the water of the Word of God. (See Ephesians 5:25-27)

Surely Goodness And Mercy
(Lyrics: John W. Peterson and Alfred B. Smith)

A pilgrim was I and a-wand’ring,
In the cold night of sin I did roam,
When Jesus the kind Shepherd found me,
And now I am on my way home.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days, all the days of my life;
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days, all the days of my life.
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever,
And I shall feast at the table spread for me;
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days, all the days of my life.

He restoreth my soul when I’m weary,
He giveth me strength day by day;
He leads me beside the still waters,
He guards me each step of the way.

When I walk thro’ the dark lonesome valley,
My Savior will walk with me there;
And safely His great hand will lead me
To the mansions He’s gone to prepare.

Study written February, 2004
Jerry Bouey

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