Psalm 23:4
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.
A Funeral SermonBishop Dehon.Psalm 23:4
Comfort Through the Rod and StaffF. B. Meyer, B. A.Psalm 23:4
Courageous FaithE. Erskine.Psalm 23:4
Deep ShadesA. S. Brooke. M. A.Psalm 23:4
Facing DeathPsalm 23:4
Fearless in DangersO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:4
Light in a Darkened WayGeorge Bainton.Psalm 23:4
Looking into the Great AbyssQuiver.Psalm 23:4
On DeathHugh Blair, D. D.Psalm 23:4
On the Fear of DeathW. Enfield.Psalm 23:4
The Path of LifeHomilistPsalm 23:4
The Power of the Presence of ChristW. C. E. Newbolt, M. A.Psalm 23:4
The Shadow of DeathR. Collyer.Psalm 23:4
The Shepherd's Rod and StaffLife of Dr. Duff.Psalm 23:4
The Valley of the ShadowJ. Service, D. D.Psalm 23:4
The Valley of the Shadow of DeathPsalm 23:4
The Valley of the Shadow of DeathDavid Roberts, D. D.Psalm 23:4
The Valley of the Shadow of DeathT. B. Patterson, M. A.Psalm 23:4
The Valley of the Shadow of DeathMr. B. Pope.Psalm 23:4
The Wonderful StaffR. Newton.Psalm 23:4
Through the Dark ValleyR. Halley, M. A.Psalm 23:4
Valleys of the ShadowC. Beard, B. A.Psalm 23:4
God's Providential CareC. Short Psalm 23:1-4
A Deep Consciousness of GodAlexander Field.Psalm 23:1-6
A Psalm of Personal Trust in GodA. Maclaren, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
A Trustful ConfidenceJ. Jennings.Psalm 23:1-6
Choice Properties of SheepO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:1-6
Confidence in the ShepherdAnon.Psalm 23:1-6
David's Confidence in the Prospect of the FutureC. Bradley, M. A.Psalm 23:1-6
Exegesis of the PsalmT. H. Rich, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
JehovahO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:1-6
Jesus as My ShepherdPsalm 23:1-6
Personal Relationship with GodJames Stuart.Psalm 23:1-6
Religious Conceptions Coloured by Secular VocationCharles H. Parkhurst, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
Serenity of SoulPhillips Brooks, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
Sufficiency in GodG. S. Reaney.Psalm 23:1-6
The Chiefest Shepherd to be YoursO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Divine ShepherdT. De Wilt Talmage.Psalm 23:1-6
The Divine Supply of Human WantO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The God of the World as Seen by the GoodHomilistPsalm 23:1-6
The Good ShepherdW. Forsyth Psalm 23:1-6
The Good Shepherd and His FlockC. Clemance Psalm 23:1-6
The Life of FaithJ. O. Keen, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord a ShepherdJohn Hill.Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord Our ShepherdE. H. Hopkins.Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord Our ShepherdT. Campbell Finlayson.Psalm 23:1-6
The Pasture GateMarvin R. Vincent, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Power of ReflectionW. Forsyth Psalm 23:1-6
The Properties of a Good ShepherdO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Psalm of FaithTalbot W. Chambers, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Shepherd Figure for JesusF. B. Meyer, B. A.Psalm 23:1-6
The Shepherd GodL. A. Banks, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Shepherd King of IsraelA. Maclaren, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
The Shepherd King of MenGeorge Bainton.Psalm 23:1-6
The Song of the FlockJ. R. Macduff, D. D.Psalm 23:1-6
What the Lord is to the BelieverArthur T. Pierson D. D.Psalm 23:1-6

This is one of the sweetest of all the psalms. That it was written by him who was raised from having care of a flock to be the king on Israel's throne, there is no reason for doubting, spite of all that destructive critics may say. No amount of Hebrew scholarship can possibly let any one into the deep meaning of this psalm. No attainments in English literature will ever initiate any student into the mysteries of a mother's love, and no attainments in Oriental learning will help any one to learn the secret of the Lord which is here disclosed. There is nothing to equal it in the sacred books of the East; for none but the Hebrews have ever had such a disclosure of God as that in which the writer of this psalm rejoices. Every clause in this psalm is suggestive enough to be the basis of a separate discourse; but in accordance with our plan in this section of the 'Pulpit Commentary,' we deal with it as a unity, indicating the wealth of material for perpetual use therein contained. We have presented to us - Four aspects of the Shepherd-care of God.

I. GOD'S SHEPHERD-CARE DISCLOSED IN REVELATION. For the Scripture doctrine of God's relation to his people as their Shepherd, the student may with advantage study and compare the following: Psalm 74:1; Psalm 77:20; Psalm 79:13; Psalm 80:1; Psalm 95:7; Psalm 100:3; Psalm 119:176; Isaiah 40:11; Isaiah 53:6; Jeremiah 31:10; Jeremiah 23:1-3; Ezekiel 34; Micah 7:14; Zechariah 11:16; Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24; Matthew 18:12; Luke 15:4-6; John 10:1-16, 26-29; John 21:16; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:4. These passages summarize Bible teaching on this theme for us. We may set it forth under the following heads:

1. God is related to men as their Shepherd. A purely absolute Being out of relation does not exist. To whatever God has made he stands in the relation of Maker. And when he has made man in his own image, after his likeness, he stands to such a one in a relation corresponding thereto; and of the many names he bears to express that relation, few more tenderly illustrate his watchful care than this word "shepherd."

2. This relation is manifested in Jesus Christ. (John 10:1-16.) He claims to be emphatically "the good Shepherd." The apostle speaks of him as "the Shepherd and Bishop of... souls."

3. As the Shepherd, Jesus came to seek and save the lost. His mission on earth was emphatically for this. He regards men as his wealth, in which he rejoices; and if they ace not under his loving care he misses them - he is conscious of something lacking (Luke 15:4-6).

4. He has risen and ascendent up on high as the great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20).

5. He now appoints under-shepherds to care for the flock. (Acts 20:28.)

6. As the chief Shepherd, he will again appear. Then he will gather in and gather home all the flock (1 Peter 5:4).

7. Only as he gathers men to himself as their Shepherd, do they find safety and rest. (1 Peter 2:25.) Till then they are homeless wanderers, perpetually in danger of stumbling "over the dark mountains."

8. When men return to him they find all they need in his Shepherd-care. (Psalm 23.)

9. This Shepherd-care is for each as well as for all. Each one may say, "He loved me, and gave himself up for me;" "The Lord is my Shepherd." Let us not forget to note the Shepherd's individualizing care.

II. GOD'S SHEPHERD-CARE EXERCISED IN ACT. The points of detail are set forth in this psalm with exquisite tenderness and beauty,

1. Repose. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures." In such a restless age as this, there is no thought which a believer has greater need to appropriate than this (see Mark 6:31). As physically we must find time for sleep, however severe the pressure of work, so spiritually we must find time for repose. And God's gracious arrangements are planned with a view to this. "He maketh me," etc. The good Shepherd says, "I will give you rest." When he gets back the wandering sheep he lays it on his own shoulders (Greek, see Luke 15:5). The Master never expects his servants to be always on the stretch. He tells them to "rest awhile;" and if they are heedless of this kind monition, he will himself call them out of the rush into the hush of life. It would be well if some Christians thought more of rest in Christ; their work would be richer in quality even if less in quantity.

2. Refreshment. "Still waters;" literally, "waters of rest," or refreshment. The believer has no craving thirst: he can ever drink of the living stream, and therewith be refreshed (see John 4:10; Revelation 7:17). Dropping the figure, the truth here conveyed is that there shall be a constant supply of the grace of Christ, and of the Spirit of Christ (cf. John 7:37-39).

3. Restoration. (Ver. 3.) This may either mean renewing the strength when worn down, or bringing back after wandering. We need not omit either thought, though the latter seems principally intended.

4. Leadership. (Ver. 3.) "Paths of righteousness," i.e. straight paths. This follows on the restoration. Having recalled him from "by-paths," the good Shepherd will lead him in the right way. The sheep can wander wide easily enough, but if they are to be kept in the right way that can be only through the Shepherd's care. God guides by

(1) his Word;

(2) his providence;

(3) his Spirit.

Sometimes, indeed, the way may be dark, even as death itself; still it is the right way (Psalm 107:7; Ezra 8:21-23).

5. A living presence. "Thou art with me' (ver. 4). This means, "Thou art continually with me," not merely with me in the darkness, but with me always. The sunshine of the living presence of a Guide, Help, Friend, Saviour, is always on the believer's path; and if the mingling of unbelief with faith did not dim the eyesight, he would always rejoice in it.

6. Discipline. (Ver. 4.) The rod and staff are special emblems of the Shepherd's care in tending and ruling the flock. The Shepherd chides us when we rove, and uses sometimes sharp measures ere he recalls us. And this comforts us! Even so. The disciplinary dealings of our God are among our greatest mercies.

7. Ample provision. (Ver. 5.) The riches of God's love and life are the provisions on which we feed, and on which souls can grow and thrive; and these supplies are ministered to the soul through the invisible channels of God's grace, even while enemies prowl around. Yea, we are entertained as guests st the Father's board. The anointing oil is the token of the right royal welcome which the Host delights to give! So rich, so abundant, are the mercies and joys which are vouchsafed, that our "cup runneth over"!


1. Here is appropriation. "My Shepherd" (see John 10:11, 27, 28).

2. Here is satisfaction. "I shall not want."

3. Here is loyalty. The psalmist not only consents to but delights in this Divine care, and has no wish but to follow where the Shepherd leads.

4. Here is joy. This thought is (perhaps Intently, but really) in the expression, "Thou art with me." The presence of God is life's exceeding joy.

5. Here is fearlessness. "I will fear no evil." Not even the darkest shade can make him fear, for God is with him there.

6. Here is recognition of the infinite grace of the Shepherd. (Ver. 3.) "For his Name's sake." Not for our sakes, but for his own; having undertaken to be the Shepherd, he will for his own glory's sake do all that a shepherd's care demands.

IV. THE SHEPHERD-CARE OF GOD IS CELEBRATED IN SONG. The song has a threefold significance.

1. It is a song of gratitude. "Goodness and mercy" mark every feature of the Divine treatment, and they will, to life's end.

2. It is a song of hope. The psalmist looks forward, without a moment's fear of the Shepherd ever leaving him (ver. 6).

3. It is a song and vow of consecration. "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." To what extent David thought of a future state when he wrote these words, we cannot say. Yet his meaning is to some extent clear. The house of God was the place where God made his home and manifested himself to his people (see Psalm 132:13-16). And the writer says, "Where God makes his home, there shall be mine. He and I will never part company" (see Psalm 61:4; Psalm 48:14; Psalm 73:24-26). It was not the house of God, but the God of the house, that was to be David's home - and the home of all the saints - for ever and for ever! There is a picture by Sir Noel Paten, which is a marvellous illustration of this psalm. It is entitled, 'The Valley of the Shadow of Death.' It is worthy of prolonged study. In the foreground is a dismal and dark valley, through which a blasting wind has swept, laying low alike the warrior and the king; the helmet of the one and the crown of the other lie useless on the ground. In the centre of the picture is the Lord Jesus, with a halo of glory over his head, a crown of thorns around his brow, and in one hand a shepherd's staff. On the left is a young maiden, whose face bears traces of the terror she has felt in coming through the valley, and yet of radiant hope as she now sees the good Shepherd there. She grasps his hand; he holds hers; his feet stand on a gravestone, beneath which lie the remains of the fallen; but where the Shepherd sets his feet, the tombstone is luminous with the words, "Death is swallowed up in victory!" The very sight of that glorious picture weaned one from the vanities of the world, and drew her to Jesus; and in the case of "an old disciple" it completely abolished the fear of death! May we all, by faith, catch a glimpse of our Shepherd, and every fear will vanish quite away! - C.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
The royal poet is putting a spiritual meaning into the various experiences of his shepherd's life; and as he once led his flock to the green pastures and by the still waters, so he ascribes whatever of peaceful happiness, his own life had known, to the kindly guidance of God. Today let us give David's metaphor a practical application to our own character and fate. No man knows what is the real meaning and worth of life till he has consciously passed through the valley of the shadow of death. All healthy life is at the beginning unconscious. The analogy of the body helps us to understand this. A happy child lives without at all thinking of life — what it is, when it begins, how it must end. One can conceive of such a life as this prolonged through manhood and old age; but there would be something less than human in its unconsciousness. And there are lives, far more frequent, which are unconscious in another way, because today they eat and drink, and tomorrow die, and never know that there is anything more in existence than this; which are below the consciousness of sin, and never rise to a knowledge of their own wretchedness. So much is common to these two kinds of unconsciousness, that they can only be startled out of themselves by a touch of pain. The consciousness of sin can alone reveal the infiniteness of duty, the pangs of sorrow make plain the depth and compass of life. But no one of us ever goes down into the valley of the shadow of death of his own accord. We are willing to live the unconscious life if we can. We know the depths that lie below, but none the less rejoice to skim lightly over the surface. By and by God comes, and with His own Fatherly hand He leads us into the gloom, and leaves us there awhile alone. There is not one of us who would not rejoice in life-long exemption from bitter bereavement, who would not, if he could, choose this form of blessing almost before shy other. And yet it is far better that God's visitation should come this way than not at all. If the soul has in it a certain capacity of education into the likeness of God, and can acquire a strength and a sweetness that were not in it at the first; if, moreover, this growth into a finer force, and symmetry is to be manifested upon a larger than any earthly scale, — then these blows of fate are not mere subtractions from the sum of happiness, and therefore to be wholly deprecated, but stages of discipline, states of training to be accepted, when they come, as part of the tuition of life. There are troubles and distresses the characteristic of which is to recall us to God from the mere external shows and shadows of life, and so out of seeming darkness to bring us into real light. But sometimes a darkness falls upon us which will not lift, and whose peculiar horror it is to rob us of the belief that there is any light at all. It may be the result of misfortune; it may come from reasoning overmuch; it may be the dizziness of the imagination. Every day men go down into this darkness, not knowing it, and able, almost content, to live in it. Can anything be so truly pitiable as to be altogether without life's divinest thirst, as never to know the desire which transcends all others, as to be wholly unconscious of the satisfaction which, once felt, is recognised as including all strength and all happiness? It would not be good for us never to go down into the valley of the shadow of death until we were called upon to make the inevitable transit from this life to another. Until we are shaken out of our moral unconsciousness by some great shock and conflict of the spirit we cannot tell what nobleness of strength, what debasement of weakness, lie concealed within us. Our faith is never firmly rooted in our hearts till we have looked out upon life and faced what it would be without faith. We never know what God is, and may be, to our spirits till we have gone down with Him into the valley of the shadow, and there in the thick darkness felt the stay of His presence and the comfort of His love.

(C. Beard, B. A.)

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.)

I. A PICTURE OF THE WAY OF LIFE DARKENED. When this will be we know not. Bunyan puts it midway, but sometimes it is nearer the beginning than the end. Childhood knows it not; gladsomeness and enjoyment are his of right. But later on life darkens. But come how and when it may, it will come at the right time and in the right way. If it ever work evil, the fault will be ours. Sometimes the shadows are those of sorrow. At others, of doubt. At yet other times it is the result of some sin. The sorrow of wasted power, of lost confidence, of violated vows, is a pang which wrings the human heart with an agony it knows not how to bear. Such experiences are stern and solemn realities.

II. NO MAN NEED GO DOWN THE VALLEY ALONE. There is light in the darkened way. "Thou art with me." And He is with us to help and protect. would leave Carthage to go to Rome. His pious mother, fearing the snares of Rome for her wayward boy, begged him not to go. He promised to remain, but in the night stole away. But there, where his mother feared he would be lost, he was saved. Years after he wrote thus, "Thou, O God, knowing my mother's desire, refusedst what she then asked, that Thou mightest give her what she was forever asking."

(George Bainton.)

I. THE PASS AND ITS TERRORS. "The valley of the shadow of death." Get the idea of a narrow ravine, something like the Gorge of Gondo or some other stern pass upon the higher Alps, where the rocks seem piled to heaven, and the sunlight is seen above as through a narrow rift. And so troubles are sometimes heaped one upon another, pile on pile, and the road is a dreary defile. It is exceedingly gloomy. Some of you don't know such troubles. Do not seek to know. Keep bright while you can. Sing while you may. Be larks and mount aloft and sing as you mount. But some of God's people are not much in the lark line; they are a great deal more like owls. But desponding people, if to be blamed, are yet much more to be pitied. Still, the covenant is never known to Abraham so well as when a horror of great darkness comes over him, and then he sees the shining lamp moving between the pieces of the sacrifice. And there are parts of our life which are dangerous as well as gloomy. The Khyber Pass is still terrible in men's memories, and there are Khybers in most men's lives. No doubt the Lord's ways are ways of pleasantness, but for all that there are enemies on the road to heaven. And then its solitude. This is a great trial to some spirits, and mingling in crowds is no relief, for there is no solitude of the spirit so intense as that which is often felt in crowds. Still, this valley is often traversed. Many more go by this road than most people dream. But it is not an unhallowed pathway, for our Lord Jesus Christ has gone along it.


1. He is calm in the prospect of his dreary passage.

2. And is steady in his progress. He walks through, does not run in haste.

3. And he is secure in his expectancy. There is a bright side to that word "through." He expects to come out into a brighter country.

4. And he is free from fear. I have read of a little lad on board a vessel in great peril. Everybody was alarmed. But he kept playing about, amused rather at the tossing of the ship. When asked what made him so fearless he replied, "My father is the captain. He knows how to manage." Let us so believe in God. Yet —

5. He is not at all fanatical. He gives a good reason for his fearlessness. "Thou art with me!"

III. THE SOUL AND ITS SHEPHERD. "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." The rod and the staff, the tokens of shepherdry, are the comforts of the saints.

1. The rod is for the numbering of the sheep.

2. For rule.

3. Guidance.

4. Urging onward. I have had to lay on the rod at times on certain fat sheep not so nimble as they ought to be. But their wool is so thick that I can scarcely make them feel. But the Great Shepherd can, and will.

5. For chastisement.

6. For protection. How David defended his sheep. May God give us all the faith expressed in our text.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE PATH OF LIFE AS SHADOWED BY DEATH. "The valley of the shadow of death." David does not speak of the article of death here as some suppose. He does not say, though I may walk, or though I should walk, or though I must walk, but though I walk. He is speaking of his walking it now. There is a bright sun, it is true, in the sky of life, otherwise there could be no "shadow": but the figure of death is so colossal that its shadow covers the whole sphere of our existence.


1. Some tread the valley of life with a stolid indifference. They seem utterly regardless of the dark shadows on the path, and whither the path conducts them. "Like brutes they live."

2. Some tread the path of life with a giddy frivolity. The everlasting jest and ceaseless round of hilarious excitement indicate that they have never been penetrated with a true idea of life.

3. Some tread the path of life with a slavish dread. They are afraid of their end.

4. Some tread the path of life with moral bravery. Thus did David.


1. Thou art with me as the infallible Guide in the ever-thickening gloom.

2. Thou art with me as a safe Protector from every conceivable evil.


Preparation for death is two fold — of state and of susceptibility. We may be prepared in state, as David was when he cried, "Oh, spare me that I may recover strength before I go hence and be no more seen," but he was not prepared in feeling. But here in our text he is prepared in both ways. "I will fear no evil"; his experience was ripe for death, and he could anticipate the event with confidence. The Psalmist looked upon the Shepherd in this place as the Master of death, and so "feared no evil."

I. TO SOME THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH IS A PLACE OF DANGER AND ALARM. That one could say he feared no evil is no proof that there is no evil for others. For the ungodly there is. For —

1. He must feel "the sting of death," which "is sin." That removed, death is no more dangerous than a serpent whose sting is withdrawn.

2. Then, too, conscience will be roused, and there will be no means to pacify it. Conscience cannot sleep then, though they have dozed and slumbered undisturbed by the thunders of Sinai, and the noise of death cutting down some old barren fig tree in their neighbourhood.

3. Then, too, Mercy will depart forever. She outstays all others, but now even Mercy says, Good-bye forever. Thou didst never see a morning when I did not meet thee with my arms full of kindnesses toward thee. Thou art now going where I have not been and whither I shall never come — Good-bye! And the hope of man is lost!

3. There also must he meet the wrath of God without a hiding place. It had been declared many times that it was approaching; but there was no way of escape. But now it is too late to turn back. God's wrath must now be faced. The terrors of God array themselves against the ungodly men.

II. THE GODLY MAN'S CONFIDENCE IN THE FACE OF DEATH. "I will fear," etc. Yet how terrible the description of death.

1. A valley — a deep and dismal place. Some live their lives in the hilltops of prosperity, others in the vales of adversity and sorrow, but this valley lies lower than these. Yet the godly man fears not.

2. A dark valley — a valley of shadow, "the shadow of death where the light is as darkness."

3. A dreadful valley — for it belongs to death. This is its home, here its court and throne. Some have fainted at the sight of some of its subjects; what of the King Himself? But here is one going down into its domains. It is probable that he will run silently through, and as swiftly as he possibly can, until he is nearly breathless. No. He intends walking slowly through, as if resolved to view it well, the only time he shall go that way. Probably he intends crossing it in the narrowest place. No. He speaks of walking the whole length of the valley. Is he afraid he may fail and faint half way? No. He confidently trusts that he will reach the farther end.

III. THE GROUNDS OF HIS CONFIDENCE. God's presence. "Thou art with me." No one is so timid as a godly man without God. He will go nowhere without Him. But with Him he will go anywhere. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.

(David Roberts, D. D.)

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.)

Death is what human nature is prone to dread. Most men shrink, as long as they are able, from the entrance into "the valley of the shadow" of it. Let us consider what are the evils to he encountered in passing through "the valley of the shadow of death."

I. In the first place, THE PAINS OF DEATH MUST BE ENCOUNTERED BY US; and these fill many minds with dismay. God has been pleased, notwithstanding the redemption of our race from utter destruction, to leave in the world demonstrations of their fall, and amongst these are the anguish and manifold distresses which accompany our mortality.

II. The valley of death is rendered terrible to man, because IT INTERRUPTS AND TERMINATES ALL HIS EARTHLY PURSUITS AND EXPECTATIONS.

III. THE SEPARATION FROM THE OBJECTS WHO WERE ENDEARED TO US, and the scenes and pleasures which delighted us in the present world. But how happy those who in this solemn hour can entrust not only themselves, but all whom they love, to the tender and faithful protection of God.

IV. Another thing which renders death terrible to many is THE DARKNESS WITH WHICH IT IS ENCOMPASSED. Shadows, clouds, and gloom rest upon it. To the infidel it is dismally obscure. Bones and ashes are all he can discover. Conscience fills it with ghosts and spectres and images of terror. They shudder as they enter. They cry aloud for light.

V. But the greatest of all the causes of anxiety and fear which the children of men encounter at the approach of death is THE APPREHENSION OF THE JUDGMENT WHICH WILL ENSUE.

(Bishop Dehon.)

Observe that dark valley attentively. Consider what it is; whither it leads; what its shadow means; what are its evils; what its security in the midst of those evils. You are daily approaching it.




(R. Halley, M. A.)

We are debtors, every one of us, to that old poet, whoever he was, who, in ransacking a teeming brain — teeming with images of idyllic peace and happiness, and also with images, of nameless dread and gloom — lighted upon the "valley of the shadow of death," as Bunyan afterwards lighted upon a "place where was a den," and gave to all that in human experience which before death is worse than death itself, a local habitation and a name. Different forms of the religious sentiment have their different values in regard to the dismal experience thus happily named. None of them has actually the value assigned to it. Religion, natural temperament, courage, cheeriness, all mingle in the confidence of him who here says "I will fear no evil." For aught we know, there may have been as much of the one as of the other. Natural temper and disposition count for much, usually for more than anything else, in the most trying moments of human life. Then, the natural man is apt to part company with his costume of habits and customs, and to show himself as he was born, the bravest of the brave or the weakest of the weak. It is not the most pious man in the regiment, I suppose, who is always the coolest in the forlorn hope. Some men, like John Wesley, are brave on land who are great cowards at sea; others, like some of Elizabeth's buccaneers, are timid in regard to the least adversity occurring in a hospital, but undaunted in regard to it if it threatens in a gale. Not according to differences of religious belief, but according to idiosyncrasies of disposition or accidental habits of mind, the valley of the shadow of death varies its character. As regards the last fact of all, which makes all human life a tragedy, we who look forward to it with a shudder cannot help envying the coolies of St. Helena and elsewhere, who lie down to die as peaceably as if it were to sleep; or the Turkish soldiers at Plevna, who preserved such coolness in presence of the horrors there. You can scarcely call their fatalism religious sentiment, yet it did that for them. Some surgeons say that there are people without nerves. What is a terrible ordeal to some in the way of pain, to others is a mere trifle. Now, though religious people will hardly allow, it, it is a fact that natural temperament has far more to do with heroism in its most striking forms than religion has. But religion has to do with it, and different forms of the religious sentiment have, therefore, different values in this respect. That it is glorious to die for one's country was an idea with which the whole Greek and Roman life was saturated in a way unknown to the Hebrew race. That sentiment produced its natural effect in Plutarch's Lives, the reading of which is like reading the Charge of the Light Brigade. But it is when you come down to Christian times that you have the religious sentiment, the rise of which takes you back to this Psalm and earlier, and we find it so pervading the lives of multitudes of common men and women that they are found to be instinct with a courage and patience which can hardly be matched in Plutarch. It is a heroism, not of the general and his staff, but of plain people. And we have it here in this Psalm. The trust in the Divine Shepherd is an antidote to all alarm. What that sentiment has done to lighten, for countless multitudes of human beings, all adversity, and the last adversity of all, to make the unendurable tolerable or even welcome, may be partly imagined but cannot certainly be told. It is still what it has been — to multitudes it is still what nothing else is or could be in the way of solving the enigmas of life and making the heavy and the weary weight of it intelligible and supportable.

(J. Service, D. D.)

The image of David's Heat distress, "the valley," or ravine, "of the shadow of death," or, as it may be translated, "of deep shades," can, without any fancifulness, be connected with the scenery through which he passed in his flight. He must, after crossing Olivet, have descended to the fords of the Jordan by one of the rocky passes which lead from the tableland of Jerusalem. These deep ravines are full of ghastly shadows, and David passed down one of them as the evening had begun to fall, and waited by the ford of Jordan till midnight. It is not improbable that we have here the source of the image in this verse. Such a march must have impressed itself strongly on his imagination. The weird and fierce character of the desolate ravine, the long and deathly shadows which chilled him as the sun sank, the fierce curses of Shimei, the fear behind him, the agony in his own heart repeating the impression of the landscape, fastened the image of it in his memory forever. He has thrown it into poetry in this verse. For now, when be mused upon his trial, he transferred to the present feelings of his heart at Mahanaim the agony of that terrible day, but added to it the declaration of the faith in God which his deliverance had mane strong within him. And his words have become since then the expression of the feelings of all men in the intensity of trial. Not merely in the last Heat death trial, for God knows that there are valleys of the shadow of death in life itself which are worse than death a thousand times. Thousands welcome death as the reliever, the friend, — they who have seen every costly argosy of hope sink like lead in the waters of the past, and whose future stretches before them a barren plain of dreary sea on which a fiery sun is burning; and they who look back on a past of unutterable folly and darker sin, and who know that never, never more "the freshness of youth's early inspiration can return." The innocent morning is gone, and they hide their heads now from the fiery simoom of remorse in the desert of their guilty life. It is the conscience's valley of the shadow of death. There are times, too, even in youth, when, by a single blow, all the odour and colour have been taken out of living, when the treachery of lover or friend has made us say, as we were tortured and wrung with the bitterest of bitterness, that all is evil and not good. It is the heart's valley of the shadow of death. And there are times in the truest Christian life when all faith is blotted out, and God becomes to us a phantom, a fate, impersonal, careless, and we cry out that we have no Father in Heaven; and of our prayer, too, it may be said though we have prayed, oh how fervently, "He answered never a word." It is the spirit's valley of the shadow of death. Now, what was David's refuge in one of these awful hours? It was faith in God, the Ever-Near. David had entered the valley of the shadow of death of the heart; he had been betrayed, insulted, exiled by the one whom he had loved best. It was enough to make him disbelieve in Divine goodness and human tenderness, enough to harden his heart into steel against God, into cruelty against man. In noble faith he escaped from that ruin of the soul, and threw himself upon God — "I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." The next verse, supposing the Psalm to have been written at Mahanaim, is at once comprehensible. For far away in the Eastern city there came consolation to David, through the visit and help of Barzillai, who brought him food. "Thou preparest a table for me," etc. One of the sad comforts of trial is this, that it is the touchstone of friendship. We realise then who are true gold. We often lose in trial what is calculable; we oftener gain what is incalculable. Precisely the same principle holds good in the spiritual world. The blessing of all trial is that it disperses the vain shows of life on which we rested, and makes Christ, the eternal Certainty, more deeply known. But how? How do we know another? Only by entering into his spirit, by sharing in his life. There is a broad distinction between an acquaintance and a friend. We may see an acquaintance every day, but we never see his heart. We hover with him over the surfaces of things, touching, it may be, now and then the real inward life as a swallow touches a stream in its flight, but we never dwell with him within the temple of inward thought or enter with him into the inner shrine of feeling. A friend — how different! one to whom your heart has opened itself freely, to receive from whom is pleasure, for whom to sacrifice yourself is joy. So we become at home in his nature, and so is it with Christ and the Christian man. If you would be the friend of Christ you must partake of His life — the life of self-sacrifice.

(A. S. Brooke. M. A.)

This valley, in Bunyans dream, lies about midway in the journey of life. This is one of those revelations of the soul's experience which makes Bunyan's book a mirror. If this valley lay right across our path at the outset it would wither our life at the spring. While if it came too near the end it would be too late to bless our souls. No, not near the beginning is that valley. I have often seen a little child sit beside the coffin that held its mother, with as fair a light on its face as I hope to see in heaven. And I have said, there is no valley and shadow of death for these little ones. Nor, either, for those who are still young. Sorrow comes, but they recover. They soon resume the natural habit of their life if you let them alone. They break out into the warm bright world again, like a Norway spring, and it is by the tender mercy of God that they do so. And in old age that valley and shadow lie behind us. When a great English painter in water colours was past work, and was waiting for his summons to depart, — for he was ninety-one, — he told his servant to bring in his masterpiece, that he might see it once more before he died. It was a picture of a shipwreck. He looked at it a good while and then said, "Bring me my pencils and lift me up; I must brighten that black cloud. It used to seem just right, but I see now it is too dark, and I must brighten it before I go." And when it was done he died. Now, I doubt not that when he painted that picture the cloud was not one shade blacker than be felt it ought to be; because true painters always dip their pencils first in the water of their own lives, and press the pigments out of their hearts and brains. But the way from middle age to ninety-one had lain upward into the light, the sweet, calm sunset of his life. And so it is with every healthful old age. Travelling into these high latitudes we touch at last a polar summer, where the morning twilight of the new day comes out of heaven to blend with the evening twilight of the old. The fear of what death may do, and the awful sense of what death can do, falls on us most heavily, through the prime of our life, when all our powers are sturdiest. It is in mid-ocean that the storms come. And this experience is universal. I notice it in all the saints whose lives are revealed to us in the Bible. And Christ Himself passed through it. Bunyan makes all his pilgrims who come to any good go down into it. But with a wonderfully sweet pathos, he makes it easier for the lame man who is getting on in years, and for the maiden, and for the mother with her children, than he will ever allow it to be for stout stalwart souls like his own. If a man should come to me and say, "I have never been down there, I know nothing about it," then his future is a sorry one. It is because we bare a soul and a future that we have to go through all this. But for this man would be mere vanity and hollowness. And there is a great growth of goodness down in that valley. Do not go alone, then. Have God with you as David did. Muster all the promises you can hold in your heart. I would try to trace the beatitudes even in the flames of hell. And look on to the dawn of the new day.

(R. Collyer.)

This hymn is the pilgrim's song of the soul on its way to eternity. The Psalm is beautiful and impressive, if we take the central death as its keynote. Then all that goes before is the preparation for that dark crisis which is the turning point of endless joy. The valley rules the whole; what precedes is its anticipation, and itself is the anticipation of heaven.

1. Mark with what exquisite simplicity the anticipation of the valley is introduced. The idea of death is inwrought into the habitual thought of the godly man. There is a sense in which life is a continual alternation of light and shade, of open pastures and shaded valleys. The whole of our probation may be said to be spent under the shadow of the great death that sin hath begotten, of the terrible cloud that has come between us and God. True religion is a constant and distinct realisation of the fact that we live to die, and must so live as not to be taken by surprise. This will give to life a certain solemnity and pathos which nothing else will give. It is, nevertheless, certain that the expectation of the valley cannot really distress the religious soul. It is very different from that horror which the ungodly and the unsanctified feel. There are, indeed, some who are all their lifetime in bondage, though true Christians, through want of trust in the resources of the Gospel. Many reasons conspire to this palsy of their faith. They love the world too much, they do not drink deeply enough of the river of life, they do not meditate as they ought on eternal things, and thus they cannot join the chorus of our hymn. But the anticipation that makes this Psalm so glad is better taught. The Christian singer is one who lives under the powers of the world to come; and those powers are to him the working forces of the present state. He lives in a supernatural world, and regards everything in its relation to that world. The thought of the valley becomes the familiar and cheerful habit of the soul. It does not diminish the energy of life nor blunt the appetite for such pleasures as God does not interdict.

2. The singer sings his way into the valley that he had predicted for himself. The language of his poetry blends the future and the present, "I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." The pilgrim is guided into the valley by the Good Shepherd Himself. Here is the secret link between death and preparation for death. The blessedness of all our religion, whether in life or death, is union with Jesus. Our preparation to die well is the habitual communion of our soul with God. Jesus went that way of sorrows before us. We may be sure that the Saviour is most intimately with and in His dying servant. His rod is the symbol of His authority in the domain of death: it is His alone. The staff is the symbol of the strength He gives the dying saints. The pastor's crook, the shepherd's rod, is no other than the Redeemer's mediatorial sceptre swayed over one special region of His vast empire, that which is under the shadow of death. We may interpret the staff as that special support which the Redeemer affords to every dying saint when his heart and flesh would otherwise fail.

(Mr. B. Pope.)

I will fear no evil.
Fear, though a natural passion, becomes the occasion of innumerable disquietudes and infelicities. It has the same effect upon the real evils and calamities of life which a misty air has upon the objects of sight: it makes them appear confused and indistinct, and at the same time much larger than they are in reality. The object most universally dreaded is death. It requires all the aids of philosophy and of religion to enable the wisest and best of us to look forward to this event with composure. Give some general directions which may enable us in measure, to overcome the fear of death.

1. That we maintain a virtuous habit of mind and course of life, and exercise ourselves to have a conscience void of offence, both towards God and towards man.

2. Make the idea of death familiar to our minds, by frequently considering our latter end. Many of the usual terrors of death appear upon examination to be imaginary, or of very little moment.

3. Reflect that this is a natural and unavoidable event which is common to all the human race.

4. We should preserve in our minds a lively conviction and devout sense of the wise and righteous government of Almighty God, and cheerfully resign ourselves and all our concerns to His direction.

5. Look forward, with joyful expectation, to a state of perfect and endless felicity in the life to come.

(W. Enfield.)

That true faith is a courageous grace; it inspires the soul with a holy and undaunted boldness amidst the greatest of dangers.

1. Some of those evils that are ready to intimidate and discourage the hearts of the Lord's people in a time of danger. Their own weakness and insufficiency. The might and multitude of their enemies. A sense of guilt and fear of wrath. The prevalence of indwelling sin. The black clouds of desertion. The wrath of man, and fury of the persecutor. The dangerous situation of the Church and cause of God, and the approach of death.

2. Some account of that faith which fortifies the soul against the fear of these evils. Sometimes it is called a trusting in the Lord, or a looking to the Lord, or a staying ourselves on the Lord, or a casting of our burden on the Lord. Some of its ingredients are — a knowledge and uptaking of a God in Christ, revealing Himself as reconciled, and making over Himself to us in a well-ordered covenant. A firm and fixed persuasion of the truth and certainty of the whole revelation of God's mind and will in the Word. An application of the promises to the soul itself in particular. A persuasion of the power, love, and faithfulness of the Promiser. A renouncing of all other refuges. Some concomitants of this faith. A blessed quietness and tranquillity of soul. A waiting upon the Lord in the way of duty. Earnest prayer at a throne of grace. A holy obedience or regard unto all God's commandments. Often with a soul-ravishing joy in the Lord. The courage of faith appears from the serenity with which it possesses the soul; the hard work and service it will adventure; the bold and daring challenges it gives to all enemies and accusers; the weapons which it wields; the battles it has fought and the victories it has gained; the heavy burdens it will venture to bear; the hard and difficult passes that faith will open; the great exploits which it has performed, and the trophies of victory and triumph which it wears.

3. That Christian fortitude and boldness which makes a believer fear no evil. The seat and subject of this Christian fortitude is the heart of a believer, renewed by sovereign grace. This fortitude consists in a clear and distinct knowledge and uptaking of the truth as it is in Jesus. It makes God's Word the boundary of faith and practice. A tenacious adherence to truth and duty. A holy contempt of all a man can suffer in this present world. Cheerfulness and alacrity of spirit.

4. The influence faith has upon this boldness. It inspires the soul by presenting God to the soul; by enabling the soul to make right estimate of truth, and by curing it of the fear of man. It views the inside of troubles for Christ, as well as the outside of them. And it keeps the eye of the soul fixed on Jesus.

(E. Erskine.)

This Psalm exhibits the pleasing picture of a pious man rejoicing in the goodness of heaven. He looks round him on his state, and his heart overflows with gratitude. Amidst the images of tranquillity and happiness one object presents itself which is sufficient to overcast the mind and to damp the joy of the greatest part of men; that is, the approach of death. With perfect composure and serenity the Psalmist looks forward to the time when he is to pass through the "valley of the shadow of death." The prospect, instead of dejecting him, appears to heighten his triumph, by that security which the presence of his Almighty Guardian afforded him. Such is the happy distinction which good men enjoy in a situation the most formidable to human nature. That threatening aspect which appalls others, carries no terror to them. Let us consider what death is in itself, and by what means good men are enabled to meet it with fortitude. It may be considered in three views. As the separation of the soul from the body. As the conclusion of the present life. As the entrance into a new state of existence. The terrors of death are, in fact, the great guardians of life. They excite in every individual that desire of self-preservation which is nature's first law. They reconcile him to bear the distresses of life with patience. They prompt him to undergo its useful and necessary labours with alacrity; and they restrain him from many of those evil courses by which his safety would be endangered. If death were not dreaded and abhorred as it is by many, no public order could be preserved in the world...To preserve it within such bounds that it shall not interrupt us in performing the proper offices and duties of life is the distinction of the brave man above the coward, and to surmount it in such a degree that it shall not, even in near prospect, deject our spirit or trouble our peace, is the great preference which virtue enjoys above guilt. It has been the study of the wise and reflecting, in every age, to attain this steadiness of mind. Philosophy pursued it as its chief object; and professed that the chief end of its discipline was to enable its votaries to conquer the fear of death. In what lights does death appear most formidable to mankind.

1. As the termination of our present existence; the final period of all its joys and hopes. The dejection into which we are apt to sink at such a juncture will bear proportion to the degree of our attachment to the objects which we leave, and to the importance of those resources which remain with us when they are gone.

2. As the gate which opens into eternity. Under this view it has often been the subject of terror to the serious and reflecting. We must not judge of the sentiments of men at the approach of death by their ordinary train of thought in the days of health and ease. Their views of moral conduct are then too often superficial. Here appears the great importance of those discoveries which Christianity has made concerning the government of the universe. It displays the ensigns of grace and clemency. What completes the triumph of good men over death is the prospect of eternal felicity. To those who have lived a virtuous life, and who die in the faith of Christ, the whole aspect of death is changed. Death is no longer the tyrant who approaches with an iron rod, but the messenger that brings the tidings of life and liberty.

(Hugh Blair, D. D.)

When Sir Henry Havelock lay dying he said to his friend and fellow soldier Sir James Outram, "For more than forty years I have so ruled my life that when death came I might face it without fear."

How we die is certainly of much less importance than how we live; but still it strengthens faith to see the hope and courage that are sometimes, but by no means always, felt by God's own people at the last. During the sixteen weeks in which Sir Bartle Frere was dying, though he was nearly always in great pare, not one murmur escaped him. Just at the end he said, I have looked down into the great abyss, but, God has never left me through it all." "Name that Name when I am in pain," he once said to his wife; "it calls me back."


"Thou art with me." I have eagerly seized on this; for out of all the terrors which gather themselves into the name of death, one has stood forth as a champion fear to terrify and daunt me. It is the loneliness of death. "I die alone." Now, loneliness is a thing which we must learn to face in our work, in the separations of life, and in times of quiet. Certainly, whether we like it or not, we must be alone in death, as far as this world is concerned. And men preach to us detachment. "Sit loosely to the world," they say, that the wrench may be less when it comes. But the Good Shepherd says rather, learn attachment. It is His promise, "Fear not; I will be with thee." It is our confidence, "I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me." Nay, more; it is our joy, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" And is not this the true answer to our fears: How call I go to meet that shadow? How will my faith stand its cold embrace? How shall I ever believe in the bright promise of a land beyond, when here all is dark? Let us ask rather: How am I going to meet the duty just before me? Is He with me now? Have I learned to find Him in the quiet hours of the day? Have I found His presence in desolating sorrow? Have I felt His hand in darkness and doubt? If so, I need not look forward. He is leading me on, step by step and day by day. He is habituating me, little by little, to the withdrawal of the light, and to utter trust in Him. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." "Thou art with me." Now is the time to make firm that companionship. To be still, and know that He is God. To find the guiding Hand in all its strength and security amid the death and life of each day's hopes and fears. And then, when we enter the shadow, still it will be "with God onwards."

(W. C. E. Newbolt, M. A.)

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
What is the shepherd's rod? It is the symbol of his defending power. It is the weapon by which our Shepherd strikes down our adversaries. He is ever on the alert to ward off from us threatening ills. What is the staff? We would rather call it the shepherd's crook, which is often bent or hooked at one end. Beneath it the sheep pass one by one to be numbered or told. By it the shepherd restrains them from wandering, or hooks them out of holes into which they may fall; by it also he corrects them when they are disobedient. In each of these thoughts there is comfort for the tried child of God. We are numbered amongst God's sheep as we pass one by one beneath the touch of the Shepherd's crook. By the Shepherd's staff we are also extricated from circumstances of peril and disaster into which we may have fallen through our own folly and sin. By the staff the shepherd also corrects his sheep.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I. IT IS WONDERFUL FOR ITS POWER TO PROTECT. David had found this as a shepherd when, by means of his staff, he vanquished the lion and the bear. So the Bible is our defence against our soul's enemies. See how Jesus used it (Matthew 4:1, etc.). It is wonderful for its power to protect.

II. IT IS WONDERFUL FOR ITS POWER TO COMFORT. Well, God's Word is like a staff for this reason. It gives strength to His people when they feel weak and ready to faint under their labours or their trials.

III. IT IS A WONDERFUL STAFF, BECAUSE OF ITS POWER TO SAVE. (James 1:21.) The Word of God is able to save the soul.

(R. Newton.)

In 1849 Dr. Duff was travelling near Simla under the shadow of the great Himalaya mountains. One day his way led to a narrow bridle path cut out on the face of a steep ridge; along this narrow path that ran so near the great precipice he saw a shepherd leading on his flock following him, but now and then the shepherd stopped and looked back. If he saw a sheep creeping up too far on the one hand, or going too near the edge of the dangerous precipice on the other, he would at once turn back and go to it, gently pulling it back. He had a long rod as tall as himself, round the lower half of which was twisted a band of iron. There was a crook at one end of the rod, and it was with this the shepherd took hold of one of the hind legs of the sheep to pull it back. The thick band of iron at the other end of the rod was really a staff, and was ready for use whenever he saw a hyena or wolf or some other troublesome animal coming near the sheep, for especially at night these creatures prowled about the flock. With the iron part of the rod he would give a good blow when an attack was threatened. In Psalm 23:4, we have mention made of "Thy rod and Thy staff." There is meaning in both, and distinct meaning. God's rod draws us back, kindly and lovingly, if we go aside from His path. God's staff protects us against the onset, open or secret, whether it be men or devils which are the enemies watching an opportunity for attack.

(Life of Dr. Duff.)

David, Psalmist
Comfort, Death, Death-shade, Deep, Evil, Fear, Rod, Shade, Shades, Shadow, Staff, Support, Though, Valley, Walk, Yea, Yes
1. David's confidence in God's grace

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Psalm 23:4

     4290   valleys
     4512   staff
     4846   shadow
     5197   walking
     5511   safety
     5766   attitudes, to life
     5797   bereavement, comfort in
     5805   comfort
     5901   loneliness
     5942   security
     7785   shepherd, occupation
     8031   trust, importance
     8215   confidence, results
     8737   evil, responses to
     8754   fear
     8797   persecution, attitudes
     9022   death, believers
     9105   last things

Psalm 23:1-4

     6703   peace, divine OT
     7786   shepherd, king and leader

Psalm 23:1-6

     4019   life, believers' experience
     7125   elect, the

The Shepherd King of Israel
'The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want. 2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. 3. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. 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. 5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6. Surely
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

December the Thirty-First the Rear-Guard
"Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." --PSALM xxiii. But why "follow" me? Why not "go before"? Because some of my enemies are in the rear; they attack me from behind. There are foes in my yesterdays which can give me fatal wounds. They can stab me in the back! If I could only get away from the past! Its guilt dogs my steps. Its sins are ever at my heels. I have turned my face toward the Lord, but my yesterdays pursue me like a relentless hound! So I have an enemy in the
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

The Kingdom Undivided
THE POETICAL BOOKS: Psalms Page Song of Solomon Page Proverbs Page THE PSALMS I. The Collection and Divisions: In all probability the book of one hundred and fifty psalms, as it now stands, was compiled by Ezra about 450 B.C. They are divided into five books, each closing with a benediction, evidently added to mark the end of the book. Note the number of psalms in Books 1 and 2. II. The Purposes: 1. They were originally used as songs in the Jewish Temple Worship.
Frank Nelson Palmer—A Bird's-Eye View of the Bible

God's Providence
In facts from Christian and philosophical standpoints it has been demonstrated that the infallible Supreme Ruler of all human spirits has made His final provision for the safety of each and every individual soul for its temporal and eternal welfare. Now I must prove to my readers' perfect satisfaction that to discard all the dignities and privileges of a high priest and become a lowly worker for Christ, it is not a mere accident nor is it an act of necessity as far as temporal necessities are concerned;
Meletios Golden—Conversion of a High Priest into a Christian Worker

In Heavenly Love Abiding,
"I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." -- Psalm 23:4. In Heavenly Love abiding, No change my heart shall fear, And safe is such confiding, For nothing changes here. The storm may roar without me, My heart may low be laid, Bnt God is round about me, And can I be dismayed? Wherever He may guide me, No want shall turn me back; My Shepherd is beside me, And nothing can I lack. His wisdom ever waketh, His sight is never dim, -- He knows the way He taketh, And I will walk with Him. Green pastures
Miss A. L. Waring—Hymns and Meditations

The Wayside Feast
S. B. Ps. xxiii. 5 Bread that camest down from Heaven, Fruit of the eternal tree; Banquet which my God has given Even unto me; Lo, before the world that scorneth, I give thanks and eat, At the table in the desert, Spread with heavenly meat; Wine of the divinest gladness, Milk and honey sweet. In the wilderness unwatered, In the lonely land, This the feast of God made ready By His mighty Hand; Thither came I, spent and weary, Hungry and athirst, From the wastes of thorn and thistle Of the land accursed,
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

Christian Standing and Christian Progress
PHILIPPIANS iii. 12-16 Christian exultation--Christian confidence--"Not in the flesh"--"In Jesus Christ"--The prize in view--No finality in the progress--"Not already perfect"--The recompense of reward--What the prize will be In a certain sense we have completed our study of the first section of the third chapter of the Epistle. But the treatment has been so extremely imperfect, in view of the importance of that section, that a few further remarks must be made. Let us ponder one weighty verse,
Handley C. G. Moule—Philippian Studies

The Valley of the Shadow of Death. --Psalm xxiii. 4
The Valley of the Shadow of Death.--Psalm xxiii. 4. Though I walk the downward shade, Deepening through the vale of death, Yet I will not be afraid, But, with my departing breath, I will glory in my God, In my Saviour I will trust, Strengthen'd by His staff and rod, While this body falls to dust. Soon on wings, on wings of love, My transported soul shall rise, Like the home-returning dove, Vanishing through boundless skies; Then, where death shall be no more, Sin nor suffering e'er molest, All
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

The Lord the Good Shepherd. --Ps. xxiii.
The Lord the Good Shepherd.--Ps. xxiii. The Lord is my Shepherd, nor want shall I know; I feed in green pastures, safe-folded I rest; He leadeth my soul where the still waters flow, Restores me when wandering, redeems when opprest. Through the valley and shadow of death though I stray, Since Thou art my guardian no evil I fear; Thy rod shall defend me, Thy staff be my stay; No harm can befall, with my Comforter near. In the midst of affliction my table is spread; With blessings unmeasured my cup
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

Mercies Remembered and Anticipated. --Ps. xxiii. 4-6.
Mercies remembered and anticipated.--Ps. xxiii. 4-6. Mercy and goodness, O my God! Have follow'd me through all my days; Thy strengthening staff, and guiding rod, Upheld my steps, made straight my ways: Lord, till I reach thy holy hill, Goodness and mercy guard me still. And when I yield this mortal breath, My soul into Thy hands commend, And pass the vale and shade of death, Thy staff and rod my path attend: Mercy and goodness then shall be My song to all eternity.
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns

The Lord My Pasture Shall Prepare
[1200]Carey: Henry Carey, 1723 Psalm 23 Joseph Addison, 1712 DOXOLOGY The Lord my pasture shall prepare, And feed me with a shepherd's care; His presence shall my wants supply, And guard me with a watchful eye; My noonday walks he shall attend, And all my midnight hours defend. When in the sultry glebe I faint, Or on the thirsty mountain pant, To fertile vales and dewy meads My weary, wandering steps he leads, Where peaceful rivers, soft and slow, Amid the verdant landscape flow. Though in the
Various—The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA

The King of Love My Shepherd Is
[1242]Dominus Regit Me: John Bacchus Dykes, 1868 Psalm 23 Henry W. Baker, 1868 The King of love my Shepherd is, Whose goodness faileth never; I nothing lack if I am his, And he is mine for ever. Where streams of living water flow My ransomed soul he leadeth, And, where the verdant pastures grow, With food celestial feedeth. Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, But yet in love he sought me, And on his shoulder gently laid, And home, rejoicing, brought me. In death's dark vale I fear no ill With
Various—The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA

The Shepherd and the Fold
... Thou hast guided them in Thy strength unto Thy holy habitation.' EXODUS XV. 13. What a grand triumphal ode! The picture of Moses and the children of Israel singing, and Miriam and the women answering: a gush of national pride and of worship! We belong to a better time, but still we can feel its grandeur. The deliverance has made the singer look forward to the end, and his confidence in the issue is confirmed. I. The guiding God: or the picture of the leading. The original is 'lead gently.' Cf.
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." 1 John 3:9. 1. It has been frequently supposed, that the being born of God was all one with the being justified; that the new birth and justification were only different expressions, denoting the same thing: It being certain, on the one hand, that whoever is justified is also born of God; and, on the other, that whoever is born of God is also justified; yea, that both these gifts of God are given to every believer in one and the same moment. In one
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

'The fruit of the Spirit is joy.' Gal 5:52. The third fruit of justification, adoption, and sanctification, is joy in the Holy Ghost. Joy is setting the soul upon the top of a pinnacle - it is the cream of the sincere milk of the word. Spiritual joy is a sweet and delightful passion, arising from the apprehension and feeling of some good, whereby the soul is supported under present troubles, and fenced against future fear. I. It is a delightful passion. It is contrary to sorrow, which is a perturbation
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Out of the Deep of Death.
My heart is disquieted within me, and the fear of death has fallen upon me.--Ps. iv. 4. My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart.--Ps. lxiii. 25. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.--Ps. xxiii. 4. Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.--Ps. cxvi. 8. What will become of us after we die? What will the next world be like? What is heaven like? Shall I be able
Charles Kingsley—Out of the Deep

Letters of St. Bernard
I To Malachy. 1141.[924] (Epistle 341.) To the venerable lord and most blessed father, Malachy, by the grace of God archbishop of the Irish, legate of the Apostolic See, Brother Bernard called to be abbot of Clairvaux, [desiring] to find grace with the Lord. 1. Amid the manifold anxieties and cares of my heart,[925] by the multitude of which my soul is sore vexed,[926] the brothers coming from a far country[927] that they may serve the Lord,[928] thy letter, and thy staff, they comfort
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh

The Shepherd-King
'And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt them mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel! fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth-lehemite: for I have provided Me a king among his sons. 2. And Samuel said, How can I go? If Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord. 3. And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Good Shepherd' and his one Flock' - Last Discourse at the Feast of Tabernacles.
The closing words which Jesus had spoken to those Pharisees who followed HIm breathe the sadness of expected near judgment, rather than the hopefulness of expostulation. And the Discourse which followed, ere He once more left Jerusalem, is of the same character. It seems, as if Jesus could not part from the City in holy anger, but ever, and only, with tears. All the topics of the former Discourses are now resumed and applied. They are not in any way softened or modified, but uttered in accents of
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Discourse on the Good Shepherd.
(Jerusalem, December, a.d. 29.) ^D John X. 1-21. ^d 1 Verily, verily, I say to you [unto the parties whom he was addressing in the last section], He that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. [In this section Jesus proceeds to contrast his own care for humanity with that manifested by the Pharisees, who had just cast out the beggar. Old Testament prophecies were full of declarations that false shepherds would arise to
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Return to Capernaum - Healing of the Centurion's Servant.
We are once again in Capernaum. It is remarkable how much, connected not only with the Ministry of Jesus, but with His innermost Life, gathers around that little fishing town. In all probability its prosperity was chiefly due to the neighbouring Tiberias, which Herod Antipas [2583] had built, about ten years previously. Noteworthy is it also, how many of the most attractive characters and incidents in the Gospel-history are connected with that Capernaum, which, as a city, rejected its own real glory,
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Jehovah. The "I Am. "
WHEN Moses in the desert beheld the burning bush God answered his question by the revelation of His name as the "I Am." "And God said unto Moses, I am, that I am: and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exod. iii:14). He who spake thus out of the bush to Moses was the same who in the fullness of time appeared upon the earth in the form of man. Our Lord Jesus Christ is no less person, than the I AM. If we turn to the fourth Gospel in which the Holy
Arno Gaebelein—The Lord of Glory

The Great Shepherd
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. I t is not easy for those, whose habits of life are insensibly formed by the customs of modern times, to conceive any adequate idea of the pastoral life, as obtained in the eastern countries, before that simplicity of manners, which characterized the early ages, was corrupted, by the artificial and false refinements of luxury. Wealth, in those
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

Sin Charged Upon the Surety
All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. C omparisons, in the Scripture, are frequently to be understood with great limitation: perhaps, out of many circumstances, only one is justly applicable to the case. Thus, when our Lord says, Behold, I come as a thief (Revelation 16:15) , --common sense will fix the resemblance to a single point, that He will come suddenly, and unexpectedly. So when wandering sinners
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

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