Psalm 23:4 Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, no evil will I fear, You with me, Your rod and staff they comfort me.
A pastor lived with a Bedouin shepherd and his family in Israel for a month, so he could observe and learn. On one occasion, he went out to pasture with the young shepherdess, aged 15, and her younger brother.
As the sun set, the shepherdess realized that she was still a bit far from home, on the wall of a steep canyon, and that her flock had spread out behind her more than she was comfortable with. As darkness came and shadows lengthened, she collected her little flock around her, talking to them and using her distinct calls and voice. She had switched from leading the sheep to being right in the midst of them. That was what was needed in that dangerous place as the shadows from the mountains grew.
As the sheep surrounded her as they traveled along the canyon wall, she would touch them on the shoulder with her staff, letting them feel that she was was near. As long as she was in their midst they had nothing to fear. She would lead them safely home.
Though the LORD leads us faithfully through our lives, we also may spread out behind Him. When, however, we are in the “Valley of the Shadow of Death,” when the shadows of evil lengthen and it becomes harder for us to see our way, He no longer leads us. He places Himself right next to us. He is as near as near can be. “You with me.”
The wonderful lyrics from the classic hymn describe the experience: “And he walks with me and he talks with me, And he tells me I am his own”
Another stanza says, “…the night around me is falling, But he bids me go through the voice of woe, His voice to me is calling”.
Believers may find themselves in their darkest hour, but they will be comforted by their Shepherd. They are not alone. He no longer walks ahead of them on the treacherous path into the growing darkness; He walks right by their side, and His voice is gentle.
What better solace is there in this life than, “YOU WITH ME.”