The Shadow of Death
“Yahweh is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”
Think about what the “valley of the shadow” means. What is a shadow? It is the darkness, or the dark shape, cast upon a surface by something cutting off light from it. In this case, death has cast a dark shadow over the valley. Usually a valley is where you find water, fertile soil, green pastures, and plush meadows. But things do not grow so good in the shade.
“I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” This is a Psalm of David; no one really knows when he wrote it or what circumstances prompted him to speak of the shadow of death. I am convinced he wrote it when he was running from Saul. It does not really matter, except we know by all outward appearances, he was living under the threat of death. But faith spoke reality into his heart, and he discerned that the darkness which was looming over him was void of substance, so he did not fear.
Notice David walked “through” not “in” the valley of the shadow of death. He had faith that his trail would not end there. He saw it as the rod of correction, or at least, as something that had purpose. We must always understand that our trials and difficult places are ordered for our good.
The next line still has more convincing evidence that David may have been seeking refuge from Saul and his army—
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” I am impressed that he recognized his blessing in spite of the discomfort that his circumstances had created.
“You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Yahweh for ever,” Psalm 23:1-6.
No matter how severe our circumstances become, if we do not lose sight of Yahweh’s goodness and mercy, which follows us, we can overcome by moving mountains. If we lose faith, our candle goes out and we die. “The spirit of man is the candle of Yahweh, searching all the inward parts of the belly (womb, also bosom, or the body of anything),” Proverb 20:27.