Summary: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the ‘shadow of death’ indicates there is a massive, bright and overwhelming light of hope behind any ‘darkness’ that haunts you. Behind any/all darkness in your life is that ‘ray of hope’, which is higher, greater, and certainly brighter than any ‘doom’.
Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined. Often it is the feeling or condition of being afraid.
Combine that with Darkness and there-in is a gripping and many times overwhelming sense of pending doom.. of certain calamity… and certainly the whole presence of oppression that just consumes and paralyzes us.
“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.” Psalms 23:4 KJV
Shadow of Death
Many of us read this passage as a soothing promise, or a “I got’cher back” message from the Lord, but I am not wholly convinced we really grasp just how informative, encouraging, and actually rather instructing this declaration was actually intended.
To me, there are two things to consider in this passage, 1) the darkness, and 2) the author indicates that he is walking or moving along.
Now, there are two variations or ways of viewing that darkness; 1) it is the absence or deficiency of light (a tangible observation, sure), and 2) the lack of knowledge or enlightenment (a spiritual/emotional component of our lives.
So far, that all helps set the stage of the bigger picture the Lord is yearning for us to consider… the reason Jesus Himself said, “Fear not, for I am with you always”… the encouragement and quite empowering message the Lord is wanting us to bury in our hearts.
I started thinking about the ‘picture’ of walking through ‘the valley of the shadow of death’ and it is so very easy to fixate on the fact that the author is pointing out that death is always near… always taunting us… always in our path, it seems. But, I realized one key thing about that shadow… that ominous darkness… that ‘light blocking’ space. And it hit me… there is a LIGHT behind that ‘death’, which is what is actually causing the shadow!
I mean… wherever there is a shadow, there IS a light behind it! And, in the case of life and death, we know that Jesus is the light.
Right… Jesus is the light behind that ‘shadow of death’ fear you are facing. We are encouraged and instructed to walk in the light, but there are times (as this passage reminds us) that the overshadowing reality of life and sin on this earth means that we are going to be ‘walking through the shadow of death’, too.
Beyond the Shadow
We just need to remind ourselves to look beyond the shadow… to look to the light… to the hope of Jesus’ nurturing hand watching over us. See, Luke 1:79 tells us that Jesus is come “To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
See… “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” indicates there is a massive, and overwhelmingly bright light of hope behind any ‘darkness’ that haunts you. Behind any/all ‘darkness’ in your life there is that ‘ray of hope’! It is higher, greater, and certainly brighter than any ‘doom’ the Shadow of Death that may loom. His grace, mercy, and peace!
The things of this world can render us unconscious, spiritually. In many ways useless physically, too. They are tangible objects and our sin-based souls are so quick to react protectively of ourselves and those around us. So much so, that we never give it a second thought… giving in to the ‘things that are seen’ rather than hoping for the things to come. Jesus gives us that hope to face fear… to face the pending and inevitable doom… to even step out and challenge the things of this world and walk by faith toward His light.
“He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.” Psalms 107:14 KJV
There was a time when Peter faced his fear. He was in a boat out on the sea, and the waters were churning from a nearby storm. Out in the distance, he saw a figure coming across the surface of the water. In and of itself, that would be a fearful thing, let alone highly unusual. Peter thought he recognized the figure as Jesus, and Matthew 14:28-30? tells us, “And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.”