Have you ever taken the time to purposely recount all of the blessings that the Lord has showered your way? In Psalm 23 David speaks descriptively of how the Lord takes care of him just as a shepherd takes care of his sheep. He describes the green pastures and still waters. He restores him when he falls and gives expert guidance in the paths of right living. David also exalts his Shepherd for being right there with him when he walks through the dark valleys of life. He uses the rod for protection and the staff to pull him free from trouble. David’s wonderful Shepherd also prepared a table of abundant provision even when the enemies were present. The Shepherd lavishly anointed his sheep with oil. After describing in such a beautiful way how lovingly and extravagantly the Lord took care of him David simply summed it all up by saying: “my cup runs over” (Psalm 23:5).
During a quiet week of vacation sitting on the banks of a northern Georgia river I took the opportunity to recount how the Lord has taken care of me and blessed me far beyond what I deserve. I recalled how he has taken care of all my needs and given me strength to go through the various dark valleys. I thanked him for my family and the way He is working in their lives. I praised Him for giving me my wonderful wife and how she has served alongside me these many years. I thanked Him for my ministry and the unique privilege that I have had in serving the Lord as a pastor for many years. Most of all I thanked the Lord for being my Shepherd and never leaving me alone. As I thought of all of these blessings I noticed that David said my cup runs over, not my cup used to run over, or I look for the day when my cup will run over in the future.
I don’t know about you but as I look at my life I can’t help but lift my eyes up to my Shepherd and truly say to Him: “my cup runs over”.
My hike down into the Grand Canyon was one of the most memorable experiences in my life. The breathtaking views, the absence of man-made structures, and the sound of silence all left a lasting impression on me. I was able to get close to a desert bighorn sheep and enjoy other wildlife along with the natural beauty. The Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon was constantly coming in view as I meandered down the trail. The experience of descending into this deep valley was a joy and a delight.
However there are valleys that are not so pleasant. In Psalm 23:4 we are told about a valley that all of us will experience at one time or another. The verse says: “Yea, 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”. This valley refers to the trials and troubles that we will certainly go through in life. Sometimes the darkness and the fear are so overwhelming that we may even begin to panic and wonder how in the world are we going to get through this valley. We may have to journey through the valley of cancer, or the loss of a job. Our valley may be the loss of a spouse or the breakup of a marriage. It may be a financial or even a legal valley we have to travel. I am so glad that we who know the Lord are promised the presence of the Shepherd. We do not have to be afraid because our Shepherd is with us. That verse says His rod and staff comfort us. His powerful presence should quiet our fear and calm our soul.
What valley are you currently walking through? The pain, the darkness, and the loneliness may seem overwhelming right now. But we must always remember that when we walk through this valley our Shepherd is right there beside us.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation