The Dark Valleys

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)

There are many dark valleys mentioned in Scripture, and these typify the many sufferings and hard experiences through which the people of God must pass. "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Philippians 1:29).

The valley of Achor--which means "trouble"--was so named because sin in the camp of God's people had caused great defeat for their armies there (Joshua 7:25-26). Willful sin inevitably must result eventually in a trek through the dark vale of trouble and defeat.

Then there is the vale of tears called Baca, or "weeping." Opinions differ as to whether this was an actual valley in Israel, but it came to symbolize a time of deep loss and sorrow. Repentance and restitution will lead one out of the valley of Achor, but God's comfort will guide through Baca. "Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee. . . . Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well. . . . They go from strength to strength" (Psalm 84:5-7).

Perhaps the darkest valley of all is the valley of the shadow of death. All must enter that valley once at least--some may even travel it often before its thick darkness finally conquers them. For those without Christ, it is a valley of great fear; there have been multitudes "who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:15).

But for those who know the Lord, they need fear no evil for God is with them. Even His guiding staff and buffeting rod are comforting for they prove the love of the Shepherd. No wonder the 23rd Psalm is the most requested passage of Scripture by those deep in this dark valley. HMM

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