Towering mountains shielding me from the warmth of the sun as I walk by a bubbling, icy stream… just part of the picture that conjures in my mind as I read the beautiful imagery in Psalm 23. There is something very picturesque about this psalm, yet behind the imagery I find deeper meaning and the essence of the gospel.
When I think of the Garden of Eden, I think of a flat plane and a lush garden – abundant, fruitful, free – with God, in communion with God and all that he provides. Here, as we find ourselves in a deep valley, there is still much beauty, still provision, yet all in the mountainous shadow of sin that separates us from such closeness with God. Yet despite that shadow and separation, God in His mercy, in His love, has come into the valley with us. He guides us, protects us and provides what we need as we navigate the sometimes tricky path and worldliness that can get in our way. God hems us – leads us (v2), is with us for comfort (v4) and follows us (v6) so that we may navigate this life until that time when we come out from behind the shadow of sin and are again in close communion with Him, in the place He has prepared for us in heaven.