Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Psalm 23:4

Faithful Bloggers is hosting a Christian Group Writing Project and I’ve decided to participate.  Various bloggers have agreed to share their thoughts on individual verses from Psalm 23.  I’ve chosen verse 4 ---

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.

I know I mention my friend Sue on my blog a lot.  She walked through the valley of the shadow of death this past year, and I feel as though I’ve walked alongside her on her journey.

The first thing I did after choosing this particular verse was to look up a commentary on it.  Here is what Matthew Henry’s commentary says about this particular verse ---

The valley of the shadow of death may denote the most severe and terrible affliction, or dark dispensation of providence, that the psalmist ever could come under. Between the part of the flock on earth and that which is gone to heaven, death lies like a dark valley that must be passed in going from one to the other. But even in this there are words which lessen the terror. It is but the shadow of death: the shadow of a serpent will not sting, nor the shadow of a sword kill. It is a valley, deep indeed, and dark, and miry; but valleys are often fruitful, and so is death itself fruitful of comforts to God's people. It is a walk through it: they shall not be lost in this valley, but get safe to the mountain on the other side. Death is a king of terrors, but not to the sheep of Christ. When they come to die, God will rebuke the enemy; he will guide them with his rod, and sustain them with his staff. There is enough in the gospel to comfort the saints when dying, and underneath them are the everlasting arms. [emphasis mine]

I feel like I’m in a sort of “limbo land” since my friend Sue lost her battle to ovarian cancer and crossed over into the everlasting arms of Jesus.  The first phrase that I put in bold in Matthew Henry’s  commentary above seems to describe just this state.  All Christians are in it – it may just seem more prevalent to some than others, depending on current circumstances.  It’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone in this feeling. 

I love what Matthew Henry says about the use of the word “shadow” also. A shadow is not harmful.  Yes, sometimes they are scary – think of shadows in a dark alley at night or something – but shadows can’t hurt us.  We can allow ourselves to get so caught up in the shadows that we lose sight of what the shadow actually represents. 

We, as humans, seem to be afraid of death.  One of Sue’s biggest fears was leaving her children behind; it’s one of my biggest concerns as well, when I consider death.  However, death can bring about fruit for God’s people.  I’ve seen some of those fruits since Sue passed away.  God has used the event of her death to work in the hearts of individuals in various ways – whether it be a kind word, a restored relationship, or whatever. 

Let’s rest in the assurance that death is not a bad or scary thing.  What could be more wonderful and exciting that considering an eternity resting in the everlasting arms of our Father God?!  And to those of us who have lost loved ones, what a peaceful assurance to know that we will see them again.  And what may seem like a very long time to wait for us, is like the  blink of an eye to God. 


SisterTipster said...

So glad you stopped by my blog, Thank you!

I too picked this verse for the post. Bless you in this time of loss. It's not easy losing someone you love. I have felt because of losing my brother over eight years ago that I am forever changed. While it has gotten better over the years the first year was extremely hard. I know you are taking comfort in knowing she's with the Lord. This faith is our only HOPE and one I had to chose to believe when my faith failed me.


Heidi... said...


This is beautiful!! Thank you for sharing!

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about a friend who was waiting for a biopsy result. The result is breast cancer. This VERY verse has been running through my mind for 3 weeks.... "the valley of the shadow of death".

Thanks so much for the reminder of eternity!!!!


alecat said...

Lovely reflections, Heidi.
I'm sorry you lost your dear friend. We lost a friend to cancer not long ago also. One thing he said to us was that death's shadow is such a lonely place to be, even when there are those who love you around; they just aren't really walking where you are at the time and the preparations he was making mentally for his children was so carefully, lovingly thought through, before he had to say his farewell. We certainly look forward to seeing him again.

Thank you for stopping by my blog today. It's nice to get to you know you some more too. :)

Courtney said...


Thanks for joining in the group writing project.

The shadows can be pretty scary if you don't have the Lord walking with you. I rejoice everyday that I don't have to go through this life alone.


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