- Psalm 23:4 (KJV)
When King David's son Absalom marched on Jerusalem with an army, planning to depose his father and take the Kingdom for himself, David had to flee for his life. Leaving Jerusalem, he headed for the Jordan River, coming to a ford named Jabbok, from which he crossed the river into Gilead where he felt he would be safe.
But it wasn't quite that easy, for the Valley of Jabbok was a dangerous place in the darkening evening, with thieves and even wild, hungry animals prowling for prey. The mighty King would be easy pickings away from his servants and soldiers. Fortunately, he happened upon a shepherd, Barzillai, who was rounding up his sheep to bring them down from the hillside to safer pastures for the night. This good man gave David shelter and food for the night and his kindness afforded David the time to determine how he would recover from his fate, for he knew that God was punishing him for the sins he himself had committed as a younger man.
Some say that this little story was what David was thinking about when he wrote the Twenty-third Psalm, one which most of us Christians grew up memorizing and remember for life. But whether it was from this memory, or just his experience as a shepherd boy in his youth, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that he created a beautiful tribute to God, a tribute which has stood the test of time and has given comfort and peace to thousands of people in their time of need.
We humans are just like sheep and God knows that we need guidance and direction in all that we do. As our Holy Shepherd, will we follow Him and be safe and secure, or will we turn away from Him and be like the stray lamb who becomes a meal for a hungry predatory animal like Satan? The choice is up to each of us and it's one that we all must make for ourselves before this life is done. Choose wisely, my friends, for the choice is between eternal life dwelling in the House of the Lord forever, or permanent death and darkness. There are no other options.
Dear Lord: Thank You for being our Father, Guide and Shepherd. Help us to always remember the importance of living for You and keeping Your guiding light in our heart always. And when we worry about our travails through the "Valley of the Shadow of Death", help us to always remember that if we follow You and keep You and Your love at our center of being, we will never face death, but live forever. We ask this prayer in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who died so that we might live, Amen.