I Will Fear No Evil

I remember as a little girl being scared of the dark when going to bed at night. I would see mysterious dark shadows on the wall in my bedroom which made me so afraid of closing my eyes because if I did one of those scary shadows would get me! Maybe some of you can recall a similar experience when you were growing up.

When I felt afraid of these shadows as a young girl, I would always remind myself of a bible verse that I had memorized from the passage Psalm 23…even though I didn’t fully understand what it meant. And yes…I did memorize the King James Version!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. Psalm 23:4 KJV

Many nights my mother would sit beside me and hold my hand until I fell asleep. Her presence always comforted me and the fear of these looming dark shadows would somehow disappear.

Even though we may no longer be afraid of the dark shadows on our bedroom walls, fear is still very real and can be present in our lives as adults and even as Christians.

Fear has a way of creeping in especially when we find ourselves in the valleys of life. These valleys can be lonely and dark and scary.

Perhaps you’re in a valley today…a valley of physical or emotional pain or a valley of financial loss and difficulties. Maybe you’re in a valley of marital struggles or a valley of great uncertainty of what your future holds.

No matter what frightening valley you may find yourself in, God wants to comfort you and encourage you to not be fearful in and through your life’s valleys.

How many of you know that unfortunately this Christian life is not free of valleys or trials or difficulties or challenges? The Bible clearly says when we face trials, not if we face trials. (James1:2) So trials will come…even if we aren’t in a valley right now.

We can also see this in our key verse today from Psalm 23:4. (I will spare you the King James Version.)

Even though I walk through the shadow of the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Psalm 23:4 ESV

Psalm 23 is a well-known psalm full of promises…promises of care, provision, rest, peace, healing, guidance, God’s presence, comfort, friendship, protection, hope and our eternal home. It is a beautiful metaphor describing God as a shepherd and God’s people as His flock. It gives us invaluable insights into the character of God and His plan for us, His children.

Psalm 23 was written by David…David the little shepherd boy who killed lions and bears to protect his flock…David who killed the giant Philistine Goliath with just a sling and a stone…David who was the least expected choice to be appointed as King over Israel…David who committed adultery and murder…AND David who despite his flaws and failures is commended as a man after God’s own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14. Acts 13:22)

David firsthand experienced God’s comfort, protection, and hope in and through his valleys of life. And so can we!

Just as I didn’t fully grasp the depth of this verse as a little girl, maybe today some of you, although familiar with Psalm 23, may not have grasped the depth either. I believe a greater understanding of this verse will bring greater encouragement to us, especially when we face fear in the midst off our valleys.

Psalm 23:4 says…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Psalm 23:4 ESV

This verse begins with the words “even though” which means “in spite the fact that”. Again, reiterating the fact that we will face valleys, trials, difficulties, and challenges in this life.

The verse goes on to say “I walk”. Isn’t that interesting? Because most of us don’t want to walk through our valleys, but would much rather run or sprint through them! I know I do!

So we walk “through” the valley. How encouraging because no matter what valley we’re in, it is temporary because the word “through” is defined as “in one end and out the other; past or beyond.”

Valleys are conduits. They have an entrance and an exit. They have a beginning and an end.

I know sometimes we can’t see the end and we can easily become discouraged if we’ve spent a lot of time in a particular valley, but God’s timing is perfect and we will get through!

The next phrase has great significance. It says that we walk through the “valley of the shadow of death.”

Bible translators agree that the “valley of the shadow of death” can also be translated as “darkest valley.” Some bible translations like the NIV, NLT, and HCBS actually use the phrase “darkest valley”.

The Hebrew word for “shadow of death” is sal-ma-wet which means “darkness” or “dark shadows”. It contains the same root as the Hebrew word for “death” (ma-wet) so we can see why some bible translations include the mention of death.

In addition, this concept of darkness seems to fit much better in the context of Psalm 23 which uses the language of a shepherd and his sheep to describe our relationship with God. Sheep do not understand the concept of death but they do understand that entering a dark valley can be dangerous.

During the winter months back in David’s day, shepherds would take their sheep down into the low land (aka valleys) where there was more grass and it was warmer. But once summer arrived, it was in the best interest to move to higher ground. The only way to get the sheep from the low land to higher ground was to go through the valleys and gorges.

These valleys were deep hollows between mountains. They were low lands flanked on both sides by high lands. Valleys always had deep waters, streams, and wells flowing through.

Shepherds loved valleys because grass was so green and lush… perfect for sheep to feed on.

The fact that it was flanked on both sides by mountains shaded it from direct sunlight; thus covering the valley by the shadow of the mountains. The height of the mountains would impose darkness on the valley.

Although these valleys provided food for the sheep, they were also home to wild animals like bears and wolves down in the lower parts that waited to kill any sheep that fell off the path.

What is so interesting is that the verse says “valley of the shadow of death” and not “valley of death”.

Oftentimes, we feel like giving up in the valleys of our lives because we grow tired and weary and feel like we will not live through it. But it’s so important to see that it is not death but the shadow of death! Shadows cannot hurt us.

Just as I feared the shadows on my bedroom wall as a little girl, they could not hurt me. And neither can the shadows of darkness in our valleys.

In fact, a shadow can only be produced in the presence of light. The darker the shadow the greater the presence of light. This should give us hope that no matter how dark our valleys are, God’s light is still present.

The verse further says “I will fear no evil, for you are with me”. We do not need to have fear in our valleys because the light that is present is the light of Jesus. He walks with us in the valley and will stay with us through the valley. He will never leave our side!

And because He is described as the Great Shepherd, He will guide us, protect us, and comfort us. He is in complete control. He knows what He is doing and has our best interest in mind.

I love this commentary…

“God will lead and guide me in the path of righteousness, even though that path lies through the darkest and most gloomy vale through deep and dismal shades … It is still a right path; it is a path of safety; and it will conduct me to bright regions beyond. In that dark and gloomy valley, though I could not guide myself, I will not be alarmed; I will not be afraid of wandering or of being lost; I will not fear any enemies there – for my Shepherd is there to guide me still.” Barnes Commentary.

What great hope for us when we face the valleys, the trials, the difficulties, and the challenges of this life.

Just as my mother’s presence always comforted me and the fear of looming dark shadows seemed to disappear, so too is God’s presence a great comfort to us driving out the fear of our darkest valleys.

Always remember that God never gives us fear and He will never leave our side.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]. 2 Timothy 1:7 AMP

For He has said, “ I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [ nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax my hold on you [assuredly not]!” Hebrews 13:5 AMP

Be strong, courageous, and firm; fear not nor be in terror before them, for it is the Lord your God Who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 AMP

So what should we do practically when we feel fearful as we go through the valleys of life?

  1. Draw Close to God in the Valleys.

Just like sheep must follow and stay close to their shepherd, we too need to draw close and stay close to our Great Shepherd. God will guide us and protect us through our valleys if we stay close to Him.

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:2-3 NLT

  1. Talk to Him in the Valleys.

When David got in the valley, he stopped talking about God and started talking to God. If you compare the first 3 verses to the last 3 verses in Psalm 23, you will notice the pronoun changes. The psalm opens with “He leads” … “He guides” … “He restores” but then David shifts his language and says “You are with me” … “Your rod and staff comfort me.”

David knew the value of crying out to God. And so did Jesus when He cried out to God in his darkest hour in Gethsemane. (Mark 14:35-36)

Don’t equate darkness with distance. You can cry out to Him. Pray and talk to Him in your valleys.

  1. Focus on What God is Doing in the Valleys

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NASB

God did not say all things are good, but that all things work together for good. God is our redeemer!

Any valley we go through, God will walk with us to bless us and change us so that we look more like Jesus.

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1Peter 1:7 NLT

  1. Keep Walking Through the Valleys

Keep walking through… “through” is the key word as discussed earlier.

When the darkness closes in and you don’t know what else to do, just take the next step…even if it’s with a limp!

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2Corinthinians 5:7 NASB

We walk by faith, not by our sight…not by our feelings…not by our thoughts.

God never explained the valley to Job…considered one of the most obedient and faithful servants of God…who lost everything…and I mean everything! (If you aren’t familiar with Job check out the book of Job in the Bible for his story)

The phrase “valley of deep darkness” is used 9 times in the book of Job. Job was on the right path, but He never understood why God sent him through the valley of deep darkness.

  1. Praise Him Through the Valleys

Gratitude has a way of changing our attitude!

Praising God will shift our focus off our problem and onto our problem-solver.

…the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT

Trust God today in the midst of your valleys and know His presence is always with you to comfort, protect, and give you hope that you will get through!

Remember we may not have His perspective, but we do have His promises!

Reflection Points:

  1. Are you in a valley today? Are you facing a trial, difficulty or challenge in your life?
  2. Are you experiencing fear in the midst of your valley, especially when the end doesn’t seem near or if you have grown tired and weary? Do you feel like giving up?
  3. Read Psalm 23 if you aren’t familiar with this passage. Do you believe God is present in your valley? And that you do not need to be fearful because He will walk closely with you through your valley?

Action Points:

What should we do when we feel fearful as we go through the valleys of life? (Refer back to the numbered steps above.)


I Am Better Than You!

“I’m better than you!” declared my 8year-old son Bryce as we were driving to school one morning this week.

He was claiming to be a faster runner than my older 10year-old son Connor. I quickly stepped in as a verbal disagreement began to erupt.

I chimed in saying how it all depends on what kind of running you’re doing and how both of them are gifted by God differently.

Connor is actually a very fast runner around the bases when he plays baseball. Bryce can also run fast around the bases too but he is very good at quick changes in direction like a running back in football and has great stamina for long distances.

Regardless of who is faster or better at whatever…bottom line is that both boys have different gifts and strengths that God has given them. And I stressed to the boys the importance of never putting another person down for not having the same gifts and strengths as them.

How quickly comparison can seep into our lives at such a young age! In fact, comparison really begins in our lives way before we may even realize!

From the day we were born…everything about us is measured!

Our birth announcements with our height and weight …our pediatric appointments with growth percentiles…our athletic ability with our game scores and statistics…our academic ability with our grades and report cards…our SAT scores…salaries…job titles…social status…and the list goes on.

Everything is weighed and measured!

It’s no wonder we get caught up with what the world says we need to look like… what the world says we need to have…and what the world says we need to be!

We can so easily be tempted to measure ourselves up against the world’s standards…and even find ourselves living out someone else’s assignment and not the assignment God has for us.

You do know that God has an assignment for your life…right? If you are a Christian today, God has a specific assignment… a specific plan…for your life and it’s not the same as someone else’s.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Now…comparison on the surface may not appear all that dangerous…because comparison is the fuel that can propel us forward… …it can push us to be better… it can motivate us to do greater things.

But…unfortunately…this comparison can trigger negative insecure thoughts…thoughts that we don’t measure up…we aren’t enough…we don’t have enough…or we won’t be accepted or liked.

Do you ever compare who you are…what you have (or don’t have) …what you are doing with your life…or in your life…with someone else’s life?

God has assigned us each an assignment in this life… He has assigned us each our own race to run!

For example, before a race, a sprinter is assigned his own lane. And one thing a track athlete is taught is to always stay in their lane…always stay focused…and always look straight ahead…and never worry about what the person in the lane next to you is doing. Because the second you look…it may cost you the race!

And this very thing actually happened in the 1996 Olympics where a sprinter admitted that he peaked at his opponent next to him and it cost him the medal. That look cost him a hundredth of second!

I love Hebrews 12:1-2! It says…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT

It says…let us strip off every weight that slows us down

We need to fist identify what weight is slowing us down.

What weight is slowing you down from running the race God has set before you? Is it the weight of comparison? Because the weight of comparison will slow us down…

If we become too consumed with comparing ourselves to others…If we become too consumed with the race other people are running…we will no longer be focused on our race. And it will slow us down.

The moment a sprinter takes his eyes off the finish line and peaks at the sprinter in the lane next to him…It will slow him down. And it just may cost him the race!

This verse goes on to say…especially the sin that so easily trips us up.

Is there a sin in your life that is tripping you up from running the race God has set before you?

If we become too consumed with comparison…it will take root in our life and will lead to sin.

Feelings of inferiority and not measuring up will produce sins like jealousy…envy… bitterness… hatred.

Comparison can also produce feelings of superiority and being better than others. And this leads to sin as well like pride, arrogance, and even self-righteousness.

We can’t afford to allow comparison to take root in our lives! We have a race to run!

It says…let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

And it goes on to say in Hebrews 12:2 that…We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…

What is distracting YOU from keeping your eyes on Jesus?

God has a plan, an assignment, a race for you to run in your life and it isn’t the same race as your friend…your neighbor…your mentor etc. It’s YOUR journey…It’s YOUR race to finish.

We cannot let the race that others have been assigned slow us down and trip us up…We have our own race to run!

Let me challenge you with this final question … Whose opinion do you feel pressured to live up to?

Your boss’ opinion…your family’s opinion…your friends’ opinion…your Facebook and Instagram followers’ opinions…this world’s opinion?

Whose opinion do you feel pressured to live up to?

Well we can take that pressure off right now! Because…The ONLY opinion that matters is God’s opinion!

And HIS opinion of you? He says to you…

You are Beautiful (Psalm 45:11)

You are Unique (Psalm 139:13)

You are Loved (Jeremiah 31:3)

You are Special (Ephesians 2:10)

You are Cared For (Ephesians 3:17-19)

You are Lovely (Daniel 12:3)

You are Precious (1Corinthians 6:20)

You are Strong (Psalm 68:35)

You are Important (1 Peter2:9)

You are Forgiven (Psalm 103:12)

You are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (Psalm 139:14)

You are Created in MY Image (Genesis 1:27)

You are Created with a Purpose (Jeremiah 29:11)

You are a New Creation (2 Cor 5:17)

You are Protected (Psalm 121:3)

You are Empowered   (Phil 4:13)

You are Victorious (Rom 8:37-39)

You are Accepted (Eph 1:3)

You are Cherished (Zech 2:8)

You are Chosen (1Peter 2:9)

You are Valued (1Cor 7:23)

You are Worthy (John 3:16)

You are Enough (Eph 2:4-6)


You are Mine! (Isaiah 43:1)

God says…Stay focused on me…And I will tell you who you are. Don’t compare yourself…OR your life…to anyone else’s!

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. Galatians 6:4-5 Message

If we can focus on becoming who God created us to be…We can experience a sense of peace and security that will enable us to resist focusing on what everyone else around us is doing. And then we can focus on the assignment He wants to complete in us…the race that He wants to run with us…and the plans He wants to fulfill though us to ultimately glorify His name.


Reflection Points:

  1. Do you ever compare who you are…what you have (or don’t have) …what you are doing with your life…or in your life…with someone else’s life?
  2. What weight is slowing you down from running the race God has set before you? Is it the weight of comparison?
  3. Is there a sin in your life that is tripping you up from running the race God has set before you? What is distracting YOU from keeping your eyes on Jesus?
  4. Whose opinion do you feel pressured to live up to?


Action Points:

  1. If you are struggling with comparison, pray and ask the Lord to help you. Pray and ask Him to show you if there is sin in your life stemming from comparison that you need to repent from and ask for forgiveness.
  2. The antidote for comparison is gratitude. When you are thankful for the way God has created you, you will begin to focus on Him. And when you focus on Him you be filled with peace and security to run the race that He has set out for you to run.
  3. Fill yourself with God’s Word and what he says about you as His daughter. Then you will know and accept who you are in Christ! Then you will know that God has made you fearfully and wonderfully inside and out (Psalm 139:14) …uniquely created you with unique gifts and a unique purpose for your life! …Not to be compared to anyone else!