A valley is a place between two mountains. In the valley are calamity, grief, and all kinds of problems. Lions, bears, coyotes, and lots of dangerous beasts are there. The shepherd leads us through the valley but doesn’t want us to stay there.
Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
We don’t learn on the mountain top but when we’re in the valley. The scripture says “I walk through the valley” so that means we don’t stay there. God wants us to learn what we need to and then move on. If we don’t go through the valley, discouragement will come. God never meant for us to be in calamity forever. Sometimes people pick up things in valleys like debts (attitudes) that people owe them. Those in grief may think others should ease their pain, but no one can do that. God wants us to trust and love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:28-33).
Psalm 57:1 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
Abraham (Abram) came to the valley of Shaveh and was given a gift of bread and wine by Melchizedek (a type of Christ) after he rescued Lot from the Amorites. We learn the most in valleys when God helps us through. Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek and wouldn’t take any of the spoil. He didn’t want anyone to think he got rich from what he did. Giving a tithe is a test of whether we’re covetous. We should all be able to give a tithe of what God blesses us with.
Genesis 14:12-20 And they took Lot…who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram…And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants… three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them…unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also…Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
When our heart is broken in the valley, we still know God is there to hold our hand. In the valley we find springs of water. When you’re in a valley of discouragement, it is by choice. God doesn’t want us to be discouraged, but said fear not and to not be discouraged (Deuteronomy 1:21). We grow in the valleys. God is patient and longsuffering with us when we’re in the valley. He wants us to learn, to be encouraged, and to trust him. Trusting God with all our heart doesn’t come over night. The herdmen of Gerar tried to strive with Isaac’s herdmen when they dug a well. It takes lots of energy to dig wells, but Isaac wouldn’t fight. God doesn’t want us to strive when people try to fight against us. Isaac moved on and dug a third well where God made room for him. God blessed him and said “fear not, for I am with thee.” When we hear that God will be with us through the valley, it is a blessing!
Genesis 26:17-25 And Isaac…pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them…Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, The water is ours…And they digged another well, and strove for that also…And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called…it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. And he went…to Beersheba. And the Lord appeared unto him…said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake. And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there…
When we’re passing through the valley of Baca (weeping), we can make it a well like those the psalmist wrote about. It’s in the valley of weeping that we learn to lean on God and trust him more. The rod in Psalm 23 that comforts us is the word of God that is our defense against the enemy. The staff is what the shepherd uses to keep the sheep in line, to get them out of a hole, and to guide them away from danger. The staff is like the Holy Spirit that guides us and helps us through the valley. Make sure when you’re in the valley that you don’t pick up debts of attitude and get bitter.
Psalm 84:5-7 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.
The Israelites were in the valley of Elah where the Philistine and Goliath were. We fight battles in our valleys.
I Samuel 17:2-3 And Saul and the men of Israel…pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array…Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.
I Samuel 17:19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.
David was about 17 years old and not old enough (20 years old) to be in the army. He saw Goliath challenge the Israelites and that they ran away because of fear. The enemy wants us to be afraid and run away.
I Samuel 17:23-24 And as he talked with them…the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake…and David heard them. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.
David had complete confidence in God, not in his own strength. He wouldn’t trust Saul’s armor either. He knew God would win the battle in the valley. He had learned through his experience with the lion and the bear that God would give him victory over the enemy. Goliath mocked David because he was young, but David knew God was his strength.
I Samuel 17:37-47 David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee. And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. And when the Philistine…saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. And…said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed…said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. Then said David…Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord…the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases…of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all…may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.
Jesus had to go through the valley of Kidron to get from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives before he was arrested. He went through the valley without any attitude of retaliation. When he was on the cross, he said “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). God doesn’t want us to retaliate or fight when we go through the valley. He wants us to let him fight the battle for us. When the Israelites and Jehoshaphat were surrounded by the enemy, God fought the battle for them. The enemy destroyed each other and the Israelites took away great riches. Pearls form when an irritant enters and attacks an oyster. The oyster protects itself by layers of a substance called nacre. These layers form the pearl. Every time we suffer in our valleys, we can find riches and have layers added to our pearls of great value!
II Chronicles 20:22-26 And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against…Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir…they were smitten…every one helped to destroy another. And when Judah…looked unto the multitude… they were dead bodies fallen to the earth…And when Jehoshaphat…came to take away the spoil of them, they found… precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves …in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the Lord…
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)