The Valley, The Shadow Of Death, & The Resurrection

Have I ever mentioned how much I like David? He was a man after Gods own heart. That’s how my bible describes Him. I hope to be described that way as well some day. So David is a hero and a friend.

David both started and finished well. His life was a study of mountaintops and valleys. There were some major disappointments, but David, unlike most Old Testament bible characters, somehow lived and died as a man after Gods own heart. He ran the race and at the end of His life, He got a “well done.”

I am convinced there is only one reason David succeeded where so many before and after failed. David was convinced that God only had goodness and love for him all the days of his life. And I think this faith is what defined him as a man after Gods heart.

In Psalm 23 David reveals how he see’s God and the core conviction through which every life experience was filtered.

It begins with a proclamation of God as the leader and provider of his life.

The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.

David continues in the same vein,

He (God) makes me lie down in green pastures. He, leads me, He restores my soul, He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name sake.

In the first part of the psalm, David lets us know that it is God who is leading him, and that God is only leading him in good things. He is led to green pastures, led to still waters, in paths of righteousness. Then David’s journey takes a difficult turn. As you read the next verse, notice that the language shifts.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil…

As much as I hate the valley of the shadow of death, I love this verse because it says something so profound about what David knew regarding Gods love. “God does not lead me into valleys of the shadow of death.”

While David has no problem acknowledging that valleys exist and that there are enemies in those valleys, he gives God no credit for these things in his life. Why? Because God does not do that sort of thing – He only has goodness and love...

David’s beautiful revelation of Gods good love for him is what allowed him to experience valleys without blaming God for them. In fact, once David is in the valley the language shifts again.

I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

I love this verse! David’s journey once again becomes a testament of who God is in his life. And get this, in the valley, the language shifts from the early proclamation of He to the first person intimacy of You. David not only knew the valley was not Gods heart for him; it was this revelation that set him free to know God in a much more intimate way.

I am convinced that David had a greater awareness of God’s presence in the valley because he was never offended at God while in the valley. Somehow, David understood a New Testament revelation better than many of us living here now – on the other side of the cross.

The revelation? God is love and He is always good. While valleys of the shadow of death exist, God does not create them and His heart for us is never the valley – ever. Not only that, the valley is a place of intimate access to our Heavenly Father. He is there to reveal His love in greater measure. He is there to lead us through – out.

The last verse of Psalm 23 shows us that David truly new the nature of God.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Because he could see God as love, he knew that every plan God had for him was good – “surely goodness and love.” Because he could see God as Father/love, he understood that if there are valleys, they are not Gods heart for him. How else does David make it through all of his trials and still believe at the end of his life?

I’m convinced that David was able to maintain a heart after Gods presence because he knew God as a Father, as Love. David had spent time in Love’s presence; he had seen Dad. He knew even before the revelation was fully available (pre-cross) that Father God is love and always good. Because of this, he was able to hurdle the disappointments of the valley seasons in life.

Faith Always Leads To Resurrection

Jesus knew the valley of the shadow of death better than anyone. The Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness and later to the cross. And if it was the Holy Spirit that led Him and He was the Fathers love perfectly revealed, then the question has to be asked.

Was it the Fathers heart for Jesus to starve in the wilderness? Was it the Fathers heart for Jesus to die on the cross?

And by faith, the answer is, no. I believe in the wilderness it was the Fathers heart to send His ministering angels. At the cross, it was the Fathers heart that Jesus be resurrected. It’s always about the joy set before us. It’s always about life – always.

And while I write this, my head is screaming at me, “that doesn’t make sense,” but at the same time my heart is encouraging me, whispering, “its true.” While writing this, my experiences lie to me and tell me I must be wrong about His always-good love. But my faith tells another story.

Our Fathers Kingdom is discovered in the unseen and is accessed through faith. This faith chooses to believe in the always-good love of our Father even when the evidence is unseen.

Is it the Fathers heart that we experience pain, disillusionment and death? Never. It’s His heart that we experience peace, joy and resurrection. His heart is always love toward us.

David experienced the valley but the valley was never Gods heart for him. Jesus went to a cross. But the cross was never His focus. Death is never the focus with God, He is always and only about resurrection. Jesus said He came to give us life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). Jesus, the Father revealed, was focused on the joy of resurrection life.

“For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). What was the joy? We were His joy! I am convinced that Jesus was living in the same revelation David wrote about in Psalm 23. Jesus knew their was a cross, but He also knew it wasn’t His Fathers heart. His Fathers heart was the joy of an unveiled love relationship with His kids.

Like David, I am learning to believe that the valley of the shadow of death is not my Fathers heart for me. He only has goodness and love.

Like Jesus, I am learning to live in the sustaining joy of the resurrection. When it comes to my Father, I am convinced that death is never the point, He is always about a future and a hope, He is always about the life.