“I Fear Nothing Bad, for You Are With Me”
13. At Psalm 23:4, how does David speak more intimately, and why is this not surprising?
13 David gives a second reason for his confidence: Jehovah protects his sheep. We read: “Even though I walk in the valley of deep shadow, I fear nothing bad, for you are with me; your rod and your staff are the things that comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) David now speaks more intimately, addressing Jehovah with the pronoun “you.” This is not surprising, for David is talking about how God helped him to endure adversity. David had been through many dark valleys—times when his very life was in danger. But he did not allow fear to dominate him, for he sensed that God—with His “rod” and “staff” at the ready—was with him. This awareness of protection comforted David and no doubt drew him closer to Jehovah.*
14. What assurance does the Bible give us regarding Jehovah’s protection, but what does this not mean?
14 How does Jehovah protect his sheep today? The Bible assures us that no opposers—demon or human—will ever succeed in eliminating his sheep from the earth. Jehovah would never allow that. (Isaiah 54:17; 2 Peter 2:9) However, this does not mean that our Shepherd will shield us from all calamity. We experience the trials that are common to humans, and we face the opposition that befalls all true Christians. (2 Timothy 3:12; James 1:2) There are times when we may, so to speak, “walk in the valley of deep shadow.” For example, we may come close to death as a result of persecution or some health crisis. Or it may be that someone dear to us comes close to or even succumbs to death. During what seem to be the darkest moments, our Shepherd is with us, and he will safeguard us. How?
15, 16. (a) In what ways does Jehovah help us to handle the obstacles we may face? (b) Relate an experience to show how Jehovah helps us in times of trial.
15 Jehovah does not promise miraculous intervention.* But of this we can be sure: Jehovah will help us to get through whatever obstacles we may face. He can grant us the wisdom to cope “with various trials.” (James 1:2-5) A shepherd uses his rod or staff not only to ward off predators but also to nudge his sheep in the right direction. Jehovah can “nudge” us, perhaps by means of a fellow worshipper, to apply Bible-based counsel that may make a big difference in our situation. In addition, Jehovah can give us the strength to endure. (Philippians 4:13) By means of his holy spirit, he can equip us with “power beyond what is normal.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) God’s spirit can enable us to endure any test that Satan might bring upon us. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Is it not comforting to know that Jehovah is ever ready to help us?
16 Yes, no matter what dark valley we may find ourselves in, we do not have to walk through it alone. Our Shepherd is with us, helping us in ways that we may not fully perceive at first. Consider the experience of a Christian elder who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. “I must admit that at first I found myself wondering if Jehovah was angry at me or even if he loved me. But I was determined not to pull away from Jehovah. Instead, I voiced my concerns to him. And Jehovah helped me, often comforting me through my brothers and sisters. Many shared helpful insights based on their own experience of coping with serious illness. Their balanced comments reminded me that there was nothing unusual about what I was going through. Practical assistance, including some touching offers of kindness, reassured me that Jehovah was not displeased with me. Of course, I must continue to battle my illness, and I do not know what the outcome will be. But I am convinced that Jehovah is with me and that he will continue to help me through this trial.”