The Shepherd In Every Valley

Title: The Shepherd In Every Valley

Bible Book: Psalms 23 : 4

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Jesus, The Shepherd; Problems; Tears; Death; Love of God



I want us to focus on just one verse oday and a very valuable lesson we can learn from its contents. Look at Psalm 23:4. Here we read, "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."

Today we are going to look at this verse from a topical perspective. There are many valleys in our lives, but the Lord has promised to be with us in the valley, especially the valley of the shadow of death.

I have often heard people say, "Well, you know, there are always two mountains for every valley." Frankly, that is not very encouraging. When you are in a valley experience, it doesn't encourage you much to look up and see people on two mountaintops nearby enjoying life while you trudge along the rocky bottomland. Also, when you are in a valley, it usually means you just fell or slid off a mountain yourself. Tumbling down into a valley from a mountaintop is not an enjoyable experience. Furthermore, to get out of the valley requires a rather laborious climb up the other side. To put it quite bluntly, there isn’t much appealing about going through life in a dark, rocky, cold and deep valley. Climbing out can seem almost impossible.

My dad was from Roanoke, Virginia and we often went to visit there when I was a child. Some of my relatives lived in the urban areas of Roanoke, but others lived out around the mountains that surround the city. Once when we were visiting in the area, we went out to the base of a large mountain where some relatives lived. A cousin and I went out to play while the adults sat around and talked about things that seemed of great interest to them. We kids could never understand how they could talk so long and enjoy it so much. My cousin and I went to play in a stream that ran behind their house, a stream that came directly off the mountain above. The water was clear and cold, even in the summertime. You could brush back any leaves or water bugs, dip your hands down into the water and drink some of the freshest, clearest, coldest water anywhere in the world at that place. No water fountain ever made could serve such water.

One day while down by the stream, we decided to hike up the mountain to see where the water came from. We chose a trail and started our ascent and after proceeding perhaps 300 yards we discovered that the going got rough. We had to hold on to trees and shrubs just to keep our balance because our feet were sliding out from underneath us as we tried to move upward. We sat down to rest and heaved a few heavy breaths of clear mountain air. I don't know which one spoke first, but I think it was I who asked, "Why did we decide to do this? You know, I kinda liked the view we had down below." My cousin agreed quickly and we slid back down the hill leaving the rest of the climb to bears or mountain lions, or to whatever else might want to attempt such a hike.

To get out of a valley is not as easy as it looks. For that matter, life sometimes keeps us in the valley a lot longer than we might choose, even when we are fully willing to make the climb if simply given the chance.

But the valley need not be a place of defeat. There is One who will not leave us to stumble along through the valley alone. He is the Shepherd of the Valley. In fact, what I want to do today is point out several valleys in the Bible and remind all of us that Jesus Christ is the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, the Good Shepherd to His sheep we they are going through the valleys of life.

I. The Valley Of Siddim - The Valley Of Sin

First, let’s think about the Valley of Siddim, which is a place near the Dead Sea. It was and is one of the lowest places on the planet and can well be described as "The Valley of Sin."

This valley is a place where asphalt pits were located and is the region that is believed to be that of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a place identified with the miry clay of sin. Armies often tried to chase enemies into this region knowing that the enemy would get stuck in the tar pits and be easy targets for defeat.

That is exactly what Satan seeks to do to all of us. He wants to chase us into the tar pits of sin. Billy Sunday once said, "The reason sin flourishes is that we treat it like a cream puff instead of a rattlesnake." Indeed, sin drags us down into the miry clay and seeks to hold us there. But there is One who can lift us out of the muck and mire of our sin. Look at one of the familiar pictures of sin as presented in the Bible: Psalm 40:1-2:

"I waited patiently for the LORD;

He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

Out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock

And gave me a firm place to stand."

The people who came before us knew as much about the sin-valley as we do. Abraham sinned, David sinned, Simon Peter sinned, and all except the Lord Jesus Himself have sinned against God. Like us, they needed to turn to the Lord to find a path out of the tars pits of iniquity.

I thank God for His forgiveness. He is the God of the second chance, the third chance, the fourth chance – well, you get the idea! One of my great joys is to watch the Lord lift people out who have ended up in the Valley of Siddim. They have become trapped in the miry clay of sin, but along comes Jesus! He is the Good Samaritan. He does not leave us in the ditch. He lifts us up, He pours in the healing balm of the Holy Spirit, He pays the price in His own blood, restores us to our place of service in His name and grants us His peace and presence.

Look at Micah 7:18-20, "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as you pledged an oath to our fathers in days long ago."

A visitor at a fishing dock asked an old fisherman who was sitting there, "If I were to fall into this water, would I drown?" The fisherman had a good answer. "Naw," he said. "Fallin' into the water doesn't drown anybody. It's staying under it that does." You can escape sin, because Christ is the Shepherd in the Valley of Sin. Turn to Him and He will lift you out!

II. The Valley Of Elah - The Valley Of Problems

Another valley that we all must face in life is the Valley of Elah, or the Valley of Giants. You might well call this the Valley of Problems that seem too big to handle. You will recall that the Valley of Elah is the place where David met Goliath. It was a place of giants, a place of battles and a place where life seems too big for us. Yet, God was there with David and He is the God of the Valley of Elah.

All of us at times must deal with the Valley of Problems, the place where we face what seems to be insurmountable difficulties. Some of us fail to know how to deal with the problems of life because we changed our hymn from “Count Your Many Blessings," to "Count Your Many Problems!"

"Count your many problems,

Name them one by one;

Don't think of the victory that can be won.

Cite your many troubles,

Count them o'er and o'er,

And all of life’s troubles will soar and soar."

Two boys were overheard talking in the yard. One said, "Life is just full of problems. For example, my parents were so excited when I learned to walk. Then, they seemed even more excited when I learned to talk." The other boy asked what was wrong with that. The first boy continued, "Well, I learned to walk and learned to talk and soon as I did, they told me to sit down and shut up!" Life is like that, just when you get to the top of the ladder you realize that someon moved the wall! But wise is the young person or adult who learns that there is a Shepherd for the valleys of life, especially the Valley of Problems.

What is your problem today? Does it seem like a giant rising up before you? Just as God gave David the victory over Goliath, He can grant you that same power and triumph.

III. The Valley Of Achor - The Valley Of Chastisement

Achor is where Achan was punished for taking from Jericho that which belonged to the Lord. Achan knew that there was a ban on removing anything from Jericho, yet he took some things and hid them under his tent. Listen carefully – you can’t hide anything from God. He knows, He sees and He will not bless the forbidden things in the lives of believers.

Once God revealed to Joshua that Achan had participated in the terrible deed, a judgment was enacted on Achan and his family. They all died and the forbidden thing that meant so much to Achan was the cause.

Sometimes God has to take us to Achor and chastise us. We read that God chastens those He loves, and some of us probably feel very unloved in those moments. When my father chastised me as a boy, he often said, “Son, I love you. This is going to hurt me as much as it is going to hurt you.” I certainly did not understand that! When my children came along and I had to chastise them, I realized what my father meant by those words.

God does not take joy in His discipline, but He knows it is necessary. If you want to be assured that He loves you, even if you are in the valley of chastisement right now, look at the mountain He climbed for you - Mount Calvary. When we look back at the cross, we see that it did cost the Father so much to offer us forgiveness. So, when we sin against Him it is only proper that He takes us to the Valley of Achor for some correction.

Be assured that God does not chastise you to hurt you, rather He does it to help you. He does not chastise you to destroy you but to deliver you. He does not chastise you to burden you but to bless you. God is present in the Valley of Chastisement.

Hebrews 12:5-6 reads, "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone He accepts as a son.'"

IV. The Valley Of Kidron - The Valley Of Tears

A cemetery was located just below the Eastern Gate outside the walls of Jerusalem. Samson, Saul, James and many others are buried there. Many tears were shed there. Suffering and sorrow are a part of this life, but there is One who will go with us through those valleys. Life is filled with tears, and many of them drop from our eyes in the cemeteries of this world. This world is, in fact, one great whirling orb of a cemetery. Longfellow penned,

"Art is long and time is fleeting,

And our hearts though stout and brave,

Still like muffled drums are beating,

Funeral dirges to the grave."

"Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate ;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait." (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

The Valley of Kidron is a valley of tears and sorrow but it is not a valley that our Lord is unfamiliar with. Remember His tears at the grave of Lazarus. Recall His tears in the Garden of Gethsemane. He wept often and He knows how you feel when you are going through the valley of tears. He is acquainted with sorrow and is a “Man of Sorrows.” You are not in that valley alone. He knows how to comfort and help you.

A woman was brought home from the hospital but her eight-year old daughter was unaware that she had a terminal disease. One day she overheard the doctor telling her father that he was afraid that the wife and mother would die before the last leaves fall from the autumn trees. The next day the father went looking for his daughter who has not at the table at mealtime. He found her in the yard. She was picking up leaves and trying to sew them back unto the low hanging limbs of the trees.

You and I can't cheat death by staying in this world, but we can cheat death when we come to the Valley of Death. When Christ is your companion, you never really die. He just walks you over the Jordan to the other side.

Some years ago a preaching conference was held in South Carolina. A preacher was asked at the last minute to fill in for a man who was scheduled but had an emergency come up that prohibited him from being present. The visiting preacher spoke from Psalm 23. He closed his message speaking about verse 4. He told the audience that he had a dream just a couple nights before the conference. He dreamed he saw people in dark clothing going down to a river with heavy packages on their backs. They walked directly into the river and disappeared underneath. But, then, they came up on the other side. When they appeared on the other side of the river they were leaping and wearing white robes. He said they appeared to be hugging and laughing. They marched off toward a rising sun coming up over a hill. He then told them that God had impressed him that the scene he saw in the dream was death. The river was the chilly Jordan. The weights on the backs of the people were the burdens of this life. When he saw them come out on the other side, he was observing the joy of our new life after death. We will wear a shiny robe of white purchased by our Lord. The weights of life will leave us. We will be with others who are there. He went on to say that he had always thought of heaven in a happy way, but never so realistically as he did after that dream. He told the audience that he would no doubt soon be going over. He felt the Lord had let him see the joy awaiting him. He left the platform as shouts of hallelujah and applause filled the air. He sat down, but before anyone else could stand to say a word, he slumped over on the floor. He was gone! He had crossed the Jordan. Oh, thank God that we do not go down into the Valley of Death alone.

IV. The Valley Of Eschol - The Valley Of Decision

The Hebrews came to the Valley of Eschol after leaving Egypt. They camped there to spy out the Promised Land. Twelve spies went in to look over the situation but they came back with conflicting reports. Ten of the spies saw the dangers, while two of the spies saw the blessings. They had to make a decision. God was with them, but they decided wrongly. There is something so very tragic in this story. Their mistake meant forty years of wandering around in a desert rather than enjoying the victory of Canaan. Except for Joshua and Caleb, all the adults who were part of the failed decision to enter the Promised Land died without setting foot there

Decisions are important. We must be careful when deciding what we are going to do and not do. We must be sure we are consulting God when we make decisions. He is present in the Valley of Decision and will lead us aright if we will but seek Him.

Joel 3:14 speaks of multitudes who are in the Valley of Decision. This refers to the judgment of the Lord upon the wicked. In essence, this refers to the judgment based upon the wrong decision. But the mere sound of the words is haunting. "Multitudes, multitudes in the Valley of Decision." Someone is here today in the Valley of Decision. You are being called to the Lord for salvation. What will you do? Your judgment shall rest upon that decision. Oh, come to the Lord. Decide for the Lord.


Whatever the valley you are going through, the Lord is available to you. Someone here in this very service needs to reach out to the One who is reaching out to you – the Lord extends His heart and hand to you right now. Take it! Come to Him. You may need to trust Jesus as your Savior. Perhaps you are in the valley of an important career decision. It may be the valley of physical illness. Perhaps you are in the valley some unspoken sorrow - the valley of tears. Jesus knows all about it. Let the Shepherd that David spoke of in Psalm 23:4, the Lord Jesus Christ, lead through and out of your valley.

Posted in


Scroll to Top