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.
Sometimes the path can be scary. At times, most of the time actually, I’m not sure what will happen next. I overthink too many things, and under think the important things.
The problem isn’t the path, but that we forget who chose it. Notice the verse didn’t say He leads us in paths of safety, but in righteous ones. He says this after saying He restores our soul.
With the exception of museums, items aren’t restored to sit on a shelf. They’re restored for use. You don’t rest a soldier to send them home. You rest them, to send them into battle. That’s why the next verse talks about the valley of the shadow of death.
We also forget Who our traveling companion is. I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Jesus walks beside us, and He is armed. The Shepherd has the Shepherd’s weapons, rod and staff. Some battles are for us to fight, others are to watch Him fight for us.
Also something else I never remember noticing, throughout the chapter, only the sheep is speaking. We hear no reply from the Shepherd. It’s not because He’s not listening, He is, and intently, but the Shepherd is taking the sheep somewhere.
He is taking them to the place where David wants to stay. From the perspective of the sheep, an not as ruling Shepherd, he says, I want to dwell in the house of The Lord forever. In other words we are going to where The Shepherd speaks.
We talk about the dark times of the soul, and worry in those battles where we do not seem to hear His voice. I’ve been there, but if we heard His voice before the battle, and we remember He is with us fighting, then we must hold to two things.
First, there is a reason why He is silent. God never does anything without a purpose, even silence. It may be that He needs us, like David, to think through what we are facing. At times, we need to process.
Most likely, like David, we already know what we need to know. David is talking here, but He’s speaking truth previously taught him by the Shepherd. He is literally armed with the knowledge that God is taking care of him.
Conversations with God is both where we came from, and where the journey is leading. When we go through this, the enemy tempts us to think either, we’re not being heard, or that we never heard from God to begin with, or that we will never hear from Him again. Yet the truth is, God has spoken into our life, and He will speak into it again.
All the while we are battling this fear, God maybe thinking something. He maybe thinking, I told them this would happen. I asked them to trust Me, and I gave them My Word to keep them. That’s what David is doing in this Psalm. He’s not holding to what God is saying, but what He has taught Him.
This is a Psalm of a sheep who has been lead by The Shepherd. One that has seen all of this firsthand. He knows The Shepherd is for Him, and that reassures him through a difficult journey.
Second, it is our opportunity to speak to the other sheep. To explain how Faith empowers you to follow when you do not understand. When we look at the inspiration of our heroes in the Faith, it’s not the good times that inspire us.
It’s those times when they faced, what seemed insurmountable odds, and yet were unfettered by one choice. It wasn’t that they were all fearless. My Grandfather seemed to be, but He talked about previous battles where he feared.
I saw others, go through the battle while fearing, and that wasn’t easy. I saw some go through the battle second guessing their own decisions. Or even asking if this was the right path, but our heroes were unfettered by one very important thing.
They never gave voice to giving up. They may have been tempted, they may have stumbled, but they kept going. The reason we go through dark times of the soul, isn’t to stop in the darkness, but to push through to The Light. What we miss, is even in darkness, is this. David said I see Him.
He may not have heard Him through the battle, but He saw Him leading Him in, through, and out of it. He saw Him nourishing Him through it, with The Word Of God. He saw Him anointing Him through it. He saw Him leading Him to The House of The Lord.
Dark times of the soul don’t mean you don’t see God, it just means a closer focus. Battles are filled with smoke, and noise, but the closer we get to Jesus in the battle, the easier to see His movement in our lives. If we see He is with us, then others will see Him too. An one day, when they’re on this journey, they will remember how you followed on the path of Light, and they will tell others how to do the same.