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. The Shadow of Death is a phrase used in 19 different verses. Many of the passages refer to death. But as we see from God’s Word, the passage is not limited to death. Job didn’t die, though he felt as though he would and was wishing that he would die. So, as the shadow of death was upon his eyes, Job was still at least 140 years away from death. A fear of death, a fear of the unknown and despondency of soul to the point of wishing for death. It is a dark, dark place of the soul.
I imagine a sheep and the shepherd forced to trek through a dangerous passage way. Sometimes the shepherd had to move the sheep to different grounds, better feed, better water and the way was through a dangerous place. There isn’t a short cut to higher ground. From the outset, I want you to know, that if you are Christ’s, if you belong to Him, if you are trusting in Him for the salvation of your soul, then He is the Good Shepherd and He will not lead you astray. However, as the scripture declares, without Christ, you dwell in the shadow of death. You have never tasted the still water nor rested in the green pastures.
For the Christian, for God’s sheep, we walk THROUGH the dark valley, we don’t live there. There is a danger to the valley – a danger that we keep our eyes off of Christ. The passage is a sweet trusting passage to be sure, there is a danger that comes in that place if we take our eyes off of Christ. I want to encourage you, that when in the valley, to keep your eyes on Christ. First we will look at the dangers of NOT keeping your eyes on Christ, then the blessings.
The valley is short sided. On the mountain top you can see forever. You can see ahead of you and you can see behind. You can see the past for what it was and the future for what it is. You can see you progress and your ascent that God has brought you and you can view you present life in the context of the blessed future. But life is short sided in the dark valley and that is why it is so miserable. No, it shouldn’t be, but it a awful reality for some overcome with grief and despair.
That last enemy, death has been defeated by the resurrection of Christ Jesus. Death, who casts that dark shadow, has been defeated in Christ. The Shepherd, who died for his people, rose again to lead His sheep safely through. Remember, there is nothing in that dark valley that can separate you from the Shepherd and he’ll never let His people go.