Biblical Map for Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Lessons from David and Paul for living through a season of pain.

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David and Paul – two men living 1,000 years apart.  Both chosen by God. Both given a special job and an important role in the history of Christianity. David’s calling was to lead Israel as the second king and be an ancestor to Jesus. Paul’s role was to bring the gospel to the gentiles.

God called both these men and equipped them to do their jobs.

But that doesn’t mean the jobs were easy or that their lives were pain-free. Quite the opposite. They were both persecuted, but by example, they both left us a map of how to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Before he was king, David was pursued by King Saul who was intent on killing him. David had several opportunities to fight back and kill Saul, but he didn’t. God had appointed Saul and David didn’t seek vengeance. Instead he spent his time hiding in caves and running away from his enemies. He didn’t get to see his family or worship God in the temple. He was constantly in fear for his life. He hadn’t done anything other than respect and honor Saul, but he was still a hunted man.

What did David do in this painful and scary situation? He trusted God. He called out to God – expressing his fear, anger and sadness. He also praised God.  Psalm 57 is a song David wrote to God, while hiding in a cave. He was calling out to God for protection and praising God for his love.

Psalm 57-7.jpg

Today in Acts, I read about Paul, who knew he would be heading into danger and possible death, but still he walked forward. He knew where God wanted him to go and do, and he did it. Regardless of the pain. Regardless of the punishment.

Paul did end up in prison many times. For several years he was actually forgotten in prison during a change of leadership. He was beaten. He was persecuted. How did he respond? He prayed. He praised God. He shared he gospel.

Honestly, I’m not going to pray for prison or torture or for enemies who want murder me. But I have experienced pain and I know that hard times will come. Death to loved ones. Eventual death to myself. Pain. Rejection. Times of sadness.

Pain is an inevitable part of life, but David and Paul set an example for what we should do in the midst of pain:

  • Cry out to God – tell him your fears, anger, sadness
  • Praise God
  • Thank God
  • Remain obedient to God . . . even when faced with trials
  • Have faith

I’m not saying it is easy – at least it isn’t for me – but these men give us a map to follow when life is at its worst.

P.S. One of the things I love about reading through the Bible is meeting mentors.  Real people who lived thousands of years ago who can mentor me on living life.  If you are interested in reading through the Bible, check out the reading plans on TheBible.com or the YouVersion app.  I’m currently reading through the Bible using the plan linked here.  Please comment below if you are reading through the Bible!

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