"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 (KJV)
This text focuses on two words of the 23rd Psalm, "though" and "through." David wrote freely about his faith in God despite difficult times. It is a psalm of confidence and determination. It is positive, forward looking and without a doubt, filled with faith. The essence of the psalms is derived from two words "though" and "through", which if it were not for the "r" would be the same word. It is the "r" that makes the difference.
David's psalm was realistic. It showed that he was keenly aware that there are dangers, misfortunes and misunderstandings lurking around every corner. "Though" seems to represent unknown difficulties, without an "if" but with a certainty that unknowns will come.
What are "though" experiences? In this Psalm David praises God for prepared tables, quiet waters, overflowing cups, green pastures, and anointed heads. Yet our "though" experience, underscores the fact that there are periods in life with when the waters are not quiet. In fact, there are times when the waters are turbulent and dangerous. When quiet waters become rapids, that's a "though" experience.
There are times when our cups do not overflow. Overflowing cups implies prosperity. It indicates those times when you have more food than you need, more clothes than you can wear, a soft bed to sleep in, and a few nickels in your pocket. Yet life does not always present us with overflow situations. Sometimes there are times when our cup is not overflowing. In fact, there are times when we may find our cup has only a few drops in them. When those times come, they are "though" situations!
There are times when we do not have green pastures. For sheep and cattle a green pasture means an abundance of grazing opportunities. There are times when we seem to always be in the right place at the right time, to take advantage of opportunities. That's when pastures are green. When everything seems to work the way it should that's when pastures are green! As great as they are, there are also times in life when the pastures are not green. There are times when opportunities seem to pass you by. These are the times when you always seem to be in the right place but always at the wrong time. Instead of green pastures, there are no pastures at all. These are "though" situations.
There are times when we can feel the strength of talents and gifts as we perform a great work. The anointed head is the one that has been touched by the power of God. When we operate under the anointing, we feel God working through us. When we sing under the anointing, God sings! When we play an instrument under the anointing, God plays! When we work in a ministry under the anointing, God works beside us! Yet there are times when have allowed ourselves to slip from under the anointing power of God. That's when we sing, but it is not God singing through us. That's when we minister but do it without God. It is a barren time when the artist has no inspiration, the writer stares at a blank page, and musician loses his creative touch. These are the times that can be characterized as "though" situations.
There are times when we are victorious despite the efforts of our enemies to defeat us. For a time, we appear to be charmed, unbeatable, and unmovable. Each person has a host of detractors and a few enemies, none of whom relish the idea of his success or prosperity. Yet, God often provides a "table" of blessings for believers in the presence of their enemies, frustrating and confusing them. There are many believers who have received promotions despite the efforts of co-workers to stop it from happening.
Others have received appointments or special opportunities, despite barriers erected to retard their efforts. These are situations when it becomes obvious that God has prepared a table for us, in the presence of our enemies. Life, however, is not always "win-win" situations. There are times when we suffer defeats, lose battles and watch our enemies walk away with life's trophies in a moment of triumph. There are even times when we walk in the valley of the shadow of fear, death, depression and trouble. These are the kinds of situations covered by "though." Though is a word of caution in the context of this psalm. It reminds us of the realities of life. It reminds us that the devil is busy and is constantly looking for opportunities to seek and destroy believers.
Though we may walk in the darkness of the moment, our hope is that Christ is victorious in our hour of need so, we walk through the dark moment fearing nothing, our hope and trust has been placed in God's hand. As Christians, we may not cross our fingers as much as the early believers, but we do maintain hope and faith, that in any given situation, Christ will be the victor. We don't hide that hope or faith behind our backs, but only declare to the world, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."
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