There are a lot of valleys in the world that have historical—and even biblical—significance, but perhaps the most well-known valley to many of us is the one spoken of in Psalm 23: the valley of the shadow of death.
Whether you're in that valley today or not, I want you to consider with me five discoveries the author of this psalm, King David, made about the ups and downs every person experiences in life:
1. There will be valleys. Psalm 23 begins tranquilly enough, but in verse 4, it takes a sudden turn: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." Notice David didn't write, "If I walk through the valley," but "Yea, though," or "Even though." Just as valleys are part of the natural landscape of the earth, so valleys are part of the landscape of the Christian life.
2. There will be dark valleys. The "valley of the shadow of death" doesn't necessarily refer to the experience of dying or knowing someone who has died, though that could be part of it. The idea in a poetic sense is experiencing life at its lowest and darkest.
3. You can be fearless in the valley. As David said, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil" (v. 4). One of the reasons he could say this is because this was the valley of the shadow of death. A shadow is just a shadow; it's not the substance of the thing (see 1 Corinthians 15:55). Thus he could walk through it on firm ground.
4. God is in the valleys. This is how you can make a statement of faith like David did: "I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (v. 4). Here, he spoke directly to God in language that was personal and intimate. I suggest that when you're going through a valley, you spend most of your time in prayer to the Lord. He will never leave you to fend for yourself (see Matthew 28:20; John 14:18).
5. The valleys won't last forever. Notice David said he was walking through the valley (see v. 4). God isn't going to leave you in the valley—He wants to bring you through it, as verses 5-6 indicate: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Remember that the valley is not your permanent destination—heaven is (see 2 Corinthians 4:17).
And if you're in a valley today, recognize that the Shepherd who led you to still waters and green pastures is also the one who has gone before you and will never forsake you when things get dark. In fact, did you know that Jesus Himself experienced the valley of the shadow of death (see Luke 22:39-44)? So when you call to Him in your valley, He can say, "I've been there. I'll walk with you and give you My resources, and you'll be able to come out the other end saying, 'My cup runs over.'"