It may be one of the most quoted passages in Scripture. The 23rd psalm can be heard in churches, funerals, on t-shirts, coffee mugs…I have even heard it used at a wedding. I am pretty sure I would never use it at a wedding. That whole thing about the valley of the shadow of death just might be a bit of a downer…if you know what I mean.
Psalm 23 covers the gamut of emotion. David expresses contentment, praise, bliss, sadness, and sorrow. Within these few verses, the entire Christian experience is captured. Many times, when it is read, people will associate the valley with death. This is why it is used so often at funerals. But let’s look a bit deeper at this verse:
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.
It is not the valley of death, but the valley of the shadow of death. Death is casting a shadow. Now, let’s be clear. The spirit of death is powerful. It is this spirit that works alongside the devil himself working to kill everything that is of God. Death works to use anything and everything to kill our joy, our peace, our love, our sanity, our relationships, our families, our marriages, our churches. It is a powerful force. But the Good News is that the spirit of death has already been defeated by Christ. He conquered sin, death, and Hell.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death
Christ conquered the devil’s power of death. As believers, His victory belongs to us. We have victory over every force, every demon, every circumstance, every tragedy, every heartbreak that might work to kill our spirit. We have the victory, but we must learn to walk in the victory.
Because death has no power over us, the climax of its power is to cast a shadow. Now, if we allow this shadow to create fear within us, fear drives out the Holy Spirit. Fear works against the power of life and love. We cannot allow fear to come in.
We keep fear out by reminding ourselves that death cannot touch us unless we allow it. We are not sitting ducks waiting for death to destroy our life with no way to defend ourselves. No, we are in Christ. If we can get ourselves into the spirit of Christ in our response to the spirit of death, and refuse to let fear control our behavior, then we will be led by the rod and staff of our Lord.
To help us here, David reminds us that it is only a shadow. Shadows have no substance. They only make things look darker. This is the work of the spirit of death-to make everything seem darker than it is. Suicidal thoughts hang on an earthly perspective. They exist so long as we discount the promises and power of God. But when we can stop and remind ourselves that the darkness is only a shadow and as surely as the sun rises, our Lord will appear, fear loses its grip on our soul.
Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth. ”
Are you facing shadows today? Leave me a comment so I can pray for you.