Learning from Ephesians and the 23rd Psalm (Part Six)
Psalm 23:4 speaks of "the valley of the shadow of death."
We should not, however, restrict ourselves to thinking only about death. We may think here of the valley of deep darkness, every dark experience in our life.
David's world was no ideal world. It was one of dark valleys (Psalm 23:4) and sinister enemies (Psalm 23:5). Our world is no different. It's a world of dark valleys and sinister enemies.
Like David, we have fallen into dark valleys. Like him, we have been overcome by sinister enemies. Like him, we must learn to trust in the Lord for deliverance and victory.
David tells us, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (through the valleys of deep darkness, through every dark experience of life), I will fear no evil."
"I will fear no evil." We are called to speak these words in the face of evil. Evil is real. We can't pretend that it isn't there. It is there. It won't go away. Our enemy, the devil, is determined. He doesn't give up easily. Evil is real. It's very powerful. Nevertheless, we are called to speak these words of faith: "I will fear no evil."
How can we gain the victory over evil? How can we avoid being overwhelmed by the devil? In our conflict with Satan, the enemy of our souls, there are two things we must do: First, we must not underestimate the devil. Second, we must not overestimate the devil.
We dare not underestimate the devil.
Paul warns us, in Ephesians 6:12, that "we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principlaities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
We must not overestimate the devil.
Both David and Paul assure us that we can be victorious over this deadly enemy, Satan. David says, "I will fear no evil, for You are with me." The Lord is with us. The presence and power of the Lord is greater and stronger than the presence and power of the devil. Warning us of the deadly opposition we face from Satan, Paul says to us, "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:10-11).
We need not fear evil. We need not be defeated by the devil. The Lord is within us. He has given us "the whole armour of God" with which to fight against the enemy.
David gives this testimony - "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." Paul describes for us "the whole armour of God." He lays special emphasis on how we are ro use each piece of armour in our battle against our enemy, Satan. We are to use the whole armour of God. There is nothing missing in the suit of armour which the Lord has given to us. It's all there - all that we need to fight aginast the devil and win the victory over him.
David speaks of God's rod and God's staff. They bring comfort to him, In the Christian life, the Word of God and the Spirit of God belong together. We have the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit - not the one without the other but both together.
In Ephesians 5:18, Paul says, "Be filled with the Spirit." In Colossians 3:16, he says, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly." In Ephesians 6:17, he describes "the Word of God" as "the sword of the Spirit."
This is the comfort which we have - the Spirit of God takes the Word of God, and uses it to give us strength to face the enemy and triumph over him.
In our earthly life, we are not guaranteed an easy time. there will be valleys of deep darkness. there is an enemy - the devil. We are surrounded by evil. There are many dangers. Without the Lord's help, our situation would be very desperate indeed. Even with the Lord's help, even when we are armed with the whole armour of God, there will be many battles to be fought. These battles will be dfifficult and demanding. we need not, however, resign ourselves to defeat. we are strengthened with the strength of the Lord.
If this strength is to be ours in ever-increasing abundance, we must learn to pray.
Paul says, "Pray at all times in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17).
Don't just pray when you feel like it. Make prayer an important part of your life.
"Keep alert with all perseverance" (Ephesians 6:18). Don't give up when things get difficult. Don't give up when everything seems to be too easy. Keep on praying.
"Make supplication for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18). Don't just pray for yourself. Pray for others. Support each other in prayer.
"Pray also for me" (Ephesians 6:19-20). Pray for the preacher of the Gospel. pray for the teacher of God's Word.
If we, the people of God, are to be helped through the valleys of deep darkness, there needs to be a real Word from the Lord, a Word which is boldly provclaimed, a Word which is preached with the utterance given by God Himself.
Strengthened with the strength of the Lord, let us echo the words of Psalm 23:4 - "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."