Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me…
I. THAT GREAT CALAMITIES, AND TERRIBLE DANGERS, EVEN THE SHADOWS OF DEATH MAY BEFALL THE PEOPLE OF GOD. For the understanding of this assertion premise these particulars, namely, that there are several shadows of death, or terrible dangers; some are —
1. Natural: as grievous diseases and sicknesses, which do even close up the day of life.
2. Malicious: which arise from Satan and from evil men, his instruments.
3. Spiritual: these dangers of all others are the most sore. These shadows of death, or great and near dangers, do cause them to shake off their great security. When a storm ariseth it is time for the mariner to awake and look to his tackling, and when the city is beleaguered it will make every man to stand to his arms. Standing waters gather mud, and disused weapons rust. They do demonstrate the solidity and validity of true grace. They increase the spirit of prayer more. They do dissolve and loosen the affections more from the world. Shadows of death make us better to discern the shadows of life, the poor empty vanities of the world, and set the heart more on heavenly purchases.
II. THAT RIGHTEOUS PERSONS ARE FEARLESS EVEN UNDER THE SHADOWS OF DEATH. And the reasons or causes of this fearlessness of man, or dangers by man, are these —
(1) God hath wrought in them a true fear of Himself; He hath put His fear into their hearts (Jeremiah 32:40). Now, the true fear of God purgeth or casteth out all vain fear of men.
(2) They know that the originals of fear are not in the creatures. Men are afraid of men because they take them to be more than men.
(3) They are in covenant with God, and God with them, therefore they fear no evil.
(4) They have much clearness in conscience; and integrity in conscience breeds audacity in conscience.
(5) They have faith in them, and can live by faith. The just shall live by his faith (Hebrews 2:3).
(6) Lastly, they may be fearless notwithstanding all dangers, forasmuch as those dangers shall never do them hurt, but good. And who is he that will harm you if ye be followers of that which is good? (1 Peter 3:13.)
III. THAT GOD IS PRESENT WITH HIS PEOPLE IN ALL THEIR DANGERS AND TROUBLES, AND THAT PRESENCE OF HIS IS THE GROUND OF THEIR CONFIDENCE.
(1) That God is present with His in all their dangers.
(2) Divine presence is the ground of Christian confidence. Some distinguish thus; there is a fourfold presence of God —
(1) One is natural. And thus is He present with all creatures. Whither shall I flee from Thy presence (Psalm 139:7).
(2) A second is majestical. And thus is He said to be present in heaven; and we pray to Him as our Father which is in heaven.
(3) A third is His judicial presence. And thus is He present with ungodly men.
(4) A fourth is His gracious or favourable presence.Consider the qualities of His presence with you, and it may yield you singular comfort and support.
(1) It is the presence of a loving God.
(2) It is the presence of an Almighty God.
(3) It is the presence of an active God.At such times you will certainly need the presence of God. Our affections are apt to be most impatient. Our fears are apt to be most violent. Our unbeliefs are apt to be most turbulent. Our consciences are apt to be most unquiet. And Satan is most ready to fish in troubled waters.
(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.