“Even when I walk through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings” (psalm 23:4-5).
One of the most devastating weapons the enemy uses against Christians is the spirit of fear. This weapon is very powerful both in the spiritual as in the physical warfare. Once an enemy succeeds in putting fear in you, then it is only a matter of time before you are defeated.
Any student of warfare will easily understand what we are talking about here. Fear is the feeling caused by possibility of danger or evil. That is, when you begin to anticipate that things might not go in your favour or that there is an imminent harm coming your way.
When fear comes, there is always that feeling of disorganization, disorientation, and destabilization. There are so many things that make people to be afraid: fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of the enemy and evil, fear of failure, etc. People are also afraid of their present situations; how will they come out of their unfavorable situations.
So, there are enough reasons to make any man/woman to live in fear all the days of his/her life. But what we want to say here is that God wants us to live above this natural negative instinct. Now, if you study closely why people behave the way they do, or do certain negative things, you will also find out that it is just because of fear.
People go into occultism for protection. People live in sin to gain advantage or accumulate resources to secure their future. The quarrels, wars bickering in the society can also be traced to the feeling of insecurity by individuals or groups. Fear, fear, fear everywhere. But God wants us not to be afraid not matter the situation.
Yes, this looks difficult but it is attainable. How? Fear is the opposite of faith, and anybody that will walk with God must walk by faith. And what does that mean? What it means is that, though there could be natural signs pointing to harm, danger or evil, you must look beyond them to see the ability, grace, power and sovereignty of God.
This is also why the bible variously told us that it is impossible to please God without faith. That is, when fear is saying that you will die, faith says you will live. When fear is saying that you will not have children, faith is saying that you will have many of them. When fear is saying that you will not survive that surgical operation, faith is saying that you are healed.
When fear is saying that you will not amount to anything in this life, faith is saying that you will be a great man/woman. When fear is saying that you will not serve God faithfully, faith is saying that you will even become a pillar in his house. Faith is the opposite of fear. Faith is seeing things the way God sees them. Faith is depending hundred percent on the word of God. Faith is being like God (your father), producing things out of nothing.
And look at the way Hebrews 11:1 puts it, “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.” Faith is superior to fear. And in the spiritual ream faith rules, while most of the things we fear do not actually exist.
Now, let’s go back to our main text in psalm 23. this is a psalm of David. Who is David? He was the king of Israel. A great man and a renowned warrior. He was the person that God said was a man after His heart. David from his tender age knew what battle, trouble, sell-out, danger, disappointment, betrayal, ambush meant.
From his childhood he fought until old age. He had met death face to face on many occasions, and God helped him to overcome. So, David is qualified by any standards to talk about fear, courage and deliverance, hence, his telling us in this psalm that even if he walks through the valley of death, he would not fear any evil.
He has seen valleys of death. He had seen great dangers and evils. He had also seen afflictions and the LORD delivered him from all of them. In his own words, he said it is ” walking through the valley of death.” Yes, there could be valley of death. But you will walk through it. It does not stay permanently, and it will not consume you. Hard situations will always come and go. They can never remain forever.
How did David come about this courage and faith in the power of God? When he was still a youth, he killed lions and bears that came to attack the sheep he was taking care of. In fact, on some occasions, the wild beasts running away with the sheep, David runs after them, snatches the sheep and tears the animals into pieces.
After these encounters, he challenged and killed the great Goliath who kept Israel trembling in fear and humiliation for 40 days. When he eventually became the king of Israel, he also led the people of God to numerous victorious wars. With the help of God, he also defeated the various attempts to destroy him by king Saul and even his own son- Absalom.
This same David survived the treachery of some of his former close allies including the great Ahithophel. In all these, David came out alive and victorious. So, when such a man talks about not being afraid of evil and enemies, he sure knows what he is saying. He is not saying that fearful situations, perilous times and dangerous enemies will not confront us, but that we should not be overtaken by fear; because the Lord is always by our side to protect and comfort us.
He said his confidence is that God’s protective power (rod and staff) is always there to save him from any danger. Not just protecting him, but also prepares a feast for him in the presence of his enemies. It is only a man who has total confidence in the power of God that can make such bold statements. Yes, David was right and we must learn from him.
If you want to be successful as a Christian, you must be fearless and courageous. God said that He has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power. God does not walk with the fearful. In fact, in the book of Revelation, He even said that the fearful will go to hell. God wants us to operate on the same plain with Him. The plain of the supernatural. On this plain, you operate by faith.
You believe all things, even when available natural facts are saying the contrary. You see beyond the human senses. At the supernatural plain you rule over the natural or physical situations. You operate as a lord. Lord over natural Circumstances. This is not to say that things that should ordinary make you to be afraid will not come, they will.
But you will refuse to succumb. Why? Because you always have the assurance that His “rod and staff” will protect you. And that they will never fail. This is the level that God wants Christians to operate. Nothing, no situation in this life should intimidate you.
You must always know that every situation you pass through in this life is temporal. No matter how terrible it might look. Maybe you’re presently going through ill-health, unemployment, childlessness, disappointment, lack, or problem in your relationship. They are all temporal. The only thing that is permanent is the words (promises) of God.
For they remain from generations to generations. When you realize this, nothing will make you afraid again. In your present situation God is not just coming to save you, but will also promote you. Look at what He said in Psalm 91:14-15, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call me, I will answer, I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them.” God bless!
Written by Rev Gabriel Agbo, the author of the book Power of Midnight Prayer