There really is an actual valley called “the shadow of death.” Adrian Rogers said, “There is a valley called the valley of the shadow of death. If you were to go there you could seek it out. It starts up between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, up about 2,700 feet above sea level. And there is a little spring that comes out of the hillside there. And it starts a little rivulet. And sometimes it’s full of water and the water cascades down. Sometimes there’s only a trickle that goes through it.”
A valley occurs because water cuts through it,
leaving the fertile remnants of the river’s journey to feed the soil.
23 LESSONS FROM THE 23RD PSALM
Yea, 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.
We have reached the halfway point of the psalm and it takes a turn for the dark. There are words of shadows and death, of evil and fear. Darkness is just as much a part of God’s creation as light. He can use the evil for His glory just as He can the good.
As we look at part three of the 23rd psalm, we will see six parts in a single verse, the sheep’s walk, death’s shadow, the sheep’s fearlessness, the Shepherd’s presence, and the soothing and solace of the Shepherd’s protection and correction.
One of the greatest aspects of being a Christian is how God uses bad, even evil, and turns it around for Gods good and glory. Most clearly in the Old Testament, we see it in the life of Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery, and yet God used it for good for deliverance.
In the New Testament, we see God redeeming the worst event in all of history, the death of the only begotten Son of God, and turning it around for the best event in all of humanity—the resurrection of the one and only Son of Man.
This truth, and this fourth verse of the 23rd Psalm, can best be summarized in the often quoted but never fully explored depth of the verse found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
As we approach the season of the celebration of the resurrection of the Son of God, let us pledge anew to learn the lessons from the lengthening days of Lent and the shortening hours of darkness. Among those lessons are that light dispels darkness and evil can never extinguish good. While Satan and his power is great, God is greater still.
And while the last and final enemy is death, “Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” And He will reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. One day, this corruptible body and world will be clothed with incorruption; someday, this mortal will be fully dress with immortality. Therefore we ask, confidently knowing the answer, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 1
And the answer is found in the empty tomb.
“Father, as I enter into this week of looking at verse 4 of the Shepherd’s Psalm, let me pray as Jesus taught me to pray, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.”
1 See 1 Cor. 15:20-55