The English language contains around 35 prepositions.
I know this, not just because I am a grammar nerd, but because my fifth-grade class was made to memorize all of them.
This seemingly vain exercise not only sent sharp pain into our souls, but also prompted the question, “How in the world will this help us later in life?”
For some the answer remains a mystery, but for me, one benefit was revealed some 20 years later in a Bible Study Methods class.
There I repented of my pre-teen unfaith and embraced the value of prepositions in understanding God’s Word.
Of the 35 English prepositions, Psalm 23 contains five, two of which, through and with, David clung to in “the valley of the shadow of death.”
Through tells us that this valley was unavoidable (he could not go around it), yet in the midst of this dark place, David possessed a sense of peace.
His shepherd was with him.
David kept moving forward, not because the path was easy, but because his Protector was present.
Centuries later, John Newton would write, “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
No matter what we’re going through today, may Newton’s song also be ours, and may we always know that even when dark valleys are present, our Great Shepherd is never absent.