Summary: In a world that is dominated by those who defy, avoid and simply fear death, David simply says "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil." Why was it that David could be so confident?
OPEN: “Life is short, and death is sure. Sin the cause. Christ the cure.”
Vladimir Lenin - the first communist dictator of Russia - died in 1924. Shortly after his death, authorities decided to maintain his body in a mausoleum. So, for the past 95 years Lenin’s body has been on display in Moscow. Day after day, crowds of people file past and pay their respects. The mummy is encased in a glass coffin where the humidity and temperature is closely regulated and his corpse is said to be extremely lifelike. But that’s all an illusion. When the crowds leave, skilled workmen step in and artificially color the corpse’s face and fill in any lines or small spots of decay with wax. Lenin’s nose and face have been “resculpted” at least a couple of times, and the body has to be “re-embalmed” every other year.
Now, why would they do that? Well … they are trying to defy death.
Over the centuries, many cultures have done that type of thing. Egyptians designed mysterious pyramids to protect their dead. Chinese emperors built huge tombs guarded by armies of statues. Vikings dressed their fallen warriors in armor and sent them off to sea in burning ships. And American Indians buried their dead with weapons and tools to use in the Happy Hunting Ground.
All done to defy the cold grip of death.
And those who couldn’t think of how to DEFY death simply AVOIDED the topic. Louis XV of France refused to allow his servants to talk about death in his presence. A Chinese superstition holds that just mentioning death… invites it. And even today, people tend to ignore talking about death. In fact - they postpone discussing it as long as possible.
A comedian once said: "It’s not that I am afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens."
But no matter what we do (unless Jesus comes first) we’re all going to die. And a lot of people are VERY uncomfortable with that truth.
Hebrews 2:14 describes this way: “(Mankind had) all their lives been held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said that death "removes all meaning from life."
And Aristotle called death the thing he feared most because "it appears to be the end of everything."
And you can understand why these folks think this way. Death IS the end of everything… it IS final. AND it is wrong! We shouldn’t have to die! That’s not the way things should have been. God created us to live forever, but sin has robbed us of that blessing.
(PAUSE) In stark contrast to the uneasiness and fear that death creates David makes this simple statement: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.”
David didn’t try to defy death. He didn’t try to avoid it. And he didn’t even seem to fear it. He regarded death as a place of shadows.
ILLUS: Some have maintained that the place that David was talking about was Kidron Valley. It is deep valley that is literally in darkness most of the day. AND it has been a place of unimaginable evil where worshipers of Baal and Molech offered their children as sacrifices to their gods. In addition - if you were to visit there today – you’d find that this valley is lined with tombs of the dead. In short, it could be a very SCARY place to visit. It’s literally the valley of the shadow of death.
Now, maybe David noticed his flocks being nervous as they passed through this valley. Or maybe he himself had felt uneasy as he led the sheep there. But somewhere along the line David came to the conclusion that “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.”
So, why? Why wasn’t David afraid? Well first, David tells us God is WITH HIM.
“I will fear no evil - for you are WITH me.” There’s a difference between going into a scary place alone and going into that same place with someone you feel you can trust.
ILLUS: A woman was telling about her favorite spot at her local zoo – “The House of Night.” It’s a place where creepy and crawly creatures of the night crawl and fly about. She said that one day, when she stepped into the exhibit, it was immediately total darkness. And then… a small hand grabbed hold of hers. She smiled and asked him “And who do you belong to?” A little boy quietly said: “I’m yours till the lights come on.”
Someone once said "I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light." (Mary Gardiner Brainard) Scary places and scary situations can frighten us IF we have to face them alone. But God says… you don’t have to.