In one of the most consoling passages of the Bible, we discover this confident claim: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). The psalmist, King David, has learned that God’s presence with him overcomes even the very worst things he can face in life.
Psalm 23 introduces us to the Lord as a faithful, loving, and compassionate Shepherd, an image that’s familiar throughout both the Old and New Testaments. As we get to know God as our Shepherd, we begin to see how He guides us, cares for us individually, and protects us. We realize that we lack nothing because our Shepherd is with us, directing our path and looking out for our every need. Even if He leads us into a dark valley we, like David, can say, “I will fear no evil.”
The word translated “evil” in the original Hebrew language means “that which causes harm, misfortune, trouble, danger, destruction, or injury of any kind.” Even in the most challenging times, David says he would not fear any harm. We don’t have to be afraid because the Lord our Shepherd walks with us through the dark valleys of life. He is with us in times of loss, illness, injury, and grief. Even in the blackest seasons of life, we don’t have to fear harm because God is with us.
God has repeatedly given this reassurance to His faithful followers throughout the Bible. To the patriarchs, God said, “Fear not, for I am with you” (Genesis 26:24, ESV; see also Genesis 15:1). To the armies of Israel, the Lord promised, “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you” (Deuteronomy 20:1).
As Joshua and the people of Israel prepared for battle against enemy nations in the Promised Land, God said through Moses, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6; see also 31:8). Through the prophet Isaiah, God proclaimed, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10, NLT; see also 41:13; 43:5). The writer of Hebrews reminds us of God’s promise, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Fearing evil and trusting God don’t mix. When we are confident in God’s goodness, we can say with the psalmist, “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1). If we believe that God is on our side, we acknowledge, “The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Psalm 118:6, NLT). When we start to experience fear, we know it’s time to put our trust in God (Psalm 56:3). As we turn to Him in prayer, He will free us from fear and fill us with His supernatural peace (Psalm 34:4; Philippians 4:6).
In our darkest, most trying times, we must remember that God is near (Psalm 34:18). He is our Shepherd, and we are in His constant care. Throughout our lives and even in death, His goodness and love will never fail us (Psalm 23:6). Only when we are secure in the knowledge that our Good Shepherd is with us can we confidently say, “I will fear no evil.”