Thou art with me

Published 11:13 am Monday, February 14, 2022

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By MICHAEL J. BROOKS | Guest Columnist

I was assisting in Vacation Bible School at the church I served while an Auburn student. The day’s lesson for the children was Psalm 23, and the point was David, though alone in the wilderness, had the assurance of God’s presence.

“David was away from family and friends,” I said. “But he wasn’t alone. Why?”

A freckle-faced angel named Denise spoke up, “He had the sheeps!”

Of course she was correct. But what I wished to communicate was that in his solitude David communed with God. He began to see his care of the sheep as a picture of God’s care for his people. David recorded his thoughts, many of which we read in the book of Psalms.

He wrote a familiar word in verse one, “I shall not want.” The Christian Standard Bible renders “I have what I need.”

The Chevrolet Corvette assembly plant and museum is in Bowling Green, Ken. Visitors are invited inside, and for $75,000, may choose their new Corvette from the assembly line and drive it home.

I want a Corvette, but I need a Camry!

Of course we know there’s a difference between our wants and our needs. And God promises to supply our needs as we trust him (Philippians 4:19).

Another well-known word is verse 4: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me.” The CSB renders this the “darkest valley.” And most of us have been there.

One in three of us will hear the dread diagnosis “cancer.” This is a terrible word. Both my mother and my father-in-law heard this diagnosis and died from the disease. Death is a dark valley. The older we get the more loved ones we lose to death. I suppose Travis Tritt is correct—when we’re young we feel “ten feet tall and bulletproof.” But age makes us think about the darkest valley of death.

What about job loss? I’ve known many who lost work at the peak of their careers. “We’ve got to let you go” isn’t a word we want to hear. We experience dread anxiety about the future, about providing for our families and about personal fulfillment that most of us get from our work.

And personal moral crisis is another dark valley. We encounter something we know is hurtful and wrong, but we deliberately choose to go that way. We disappoint ourselves, our family and our God.

David knew that the Good Shepherd isn’t a fair-weather one. He promises not to forsake us in the darkest valley. He has a rod to ward off evil, and a staff to rescue his sheep from places of danger. We are not alone in the difficulties of life.

Reflections is a weekly devotional feature written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is