The Valley of the Shadow of Death
Psalm 23:4
Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me…

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THE BELIEVER IS PLACED. "The valley of the shadow of death" has been supposed to describe a gloomy defile in which the traveller sees, as it were, the image of death depicted wherever he turns his eyes. Others, again, and perhaps with greater simplicity of interpretation, have found the idea of dark shadow, impenetrable gloom cast by some overhanging object which shuts out all light. The natural effect of peril is to create alarm; and it is nothing less than a signal triumph over the strongest instincts of the human constitution for a man, when he walks "through the valley of the shadow of death," to fear no evil. It is, however, a triumph over nature, to which the religion of the Bible frequently calls, and for which she abundantly prepares her followers.

II. THE FEELINGS WHICH IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES HE IS ABLE TO ENTERTAIN. The Psalmist does not say, "I will not fear," though even had he said so we should have known how to interpret his words with due restrictions; but he says, "I will fear no evil," that is, I will apprehend no real or ultimate injury. The Psalmist had made too enlarged an observation, he had passed through too varied an experience of life, to suppose that the clouds which lowered upon the scene before him would always pass away innocuous. Exactly so the Christian now has no reason to expect that he will be spared the suffering — and that to the extremity of mortal endurance — of what is painful, and desolating, and agonising; but every Christian may be assured that all these things shall fail to do him real evil. And while this is the feeling which every child of God may be expected to entertain, in every condition in which he can be placed of deadly gloom and peril, so it is peculiarly the sentiment which he is called upon to cherish when treading in particular that dreary path which, to most minds, Is suggested by the appellation, "the valley of the shadow of death." A sharp thrill of undefined yet overwhelming terror is apt to shoot across his soul that, in the words of the Psalmist, he exclaims, "My heart is sore vexed within me, and the fear of death is fallen upon me." But it will be but for a moment that the Christian, trusting in his Redeemer, will suffer such gloomy thoughts as these to involve his spirit; presently, as he proceeds deeper and deeper down the perilous descent, you will hear a voice of solemn yet not desponding melody ascending from the shades, "I will trust and not be afraid"; "Yea, though I walk through," etc.

III. THE REASONS ON WHICH THE PSALMIST GROUNDS AND JUSTIFIES HIS PERSUASION. That, with whatever circumstances of direct and most deadly peril he might be environed, no real evil should befall him.

1. The fact of Jehovah's friendly presence.

2. The fact of Jehovah's pastoral care: "Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me." The Scriptural expression, "to be with one," denotes the special presence of Jehovah with those whom He loves, to guide, to help, to protect, to favour, and to bless them; as when Abimelech, for example, congratulated Abraham on the manifest tokens which his history presented that he was the object of Almighty favour, by saying, "The Lord is with thee in all that thou dost," — when our Lord, in order to encourage His apostle amidst the arduous toils and trials that awaited him at Corinth, spake to him in vision, — "Fear not, for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee."

(T. B. Patterson, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

The Valley of the Shadow
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