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I'm not sure that the Title of this blog is very attention grabbing, usually the last thing we want to talk about is death. But no matter whether we talk of it or not, it is a reality we will all face at some time. The question is; how do we handle it when we face it ourselves or feel as if we are in circumstances that are life threatening.

The above picture is from Israel. It is the Valley of the Shadow of Death mentioned in David's Psalm 23 verse 4. It is found at Qelt Wadi along the Jerusalem to Jericho road. This section of road is about 12 miles (20 klms) from Jerusalem and is a very steep and winding area where the road drops some 750 meters in less than 1 1/2 miles (about 2 klms) passing through a great descending valley in wilderness terrain. The valley is in perpetual darkness because of the huge cliff walls and has been a favoured places for thieves and robbers since the times of Abraham. Shepherds would often traverse this valley with their sheep to get to better pastures and would be attacked by bandits and thieves who would steel their sheep, killing the shepherd in the process.

TODAY we are looking at Verse 4 of the most well known Psalm in the world. Psalm 23 shows us the amazing and intimate relationship King David had with God. It appears that David may have been reminiscing about his past experiences, acknowledging God's great influence in his life. In verse 4 the whole tone of the Psalm changes. It becomes much more intense, much more intimate and personal. The language changes tense into the first and second person - You and me. Present Tense.

"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 staff comfort me.'

For many it seems to be talking about DEATH, however in my mind it has far more to do with life than death. Life that emanates from the Shepherd.

I want to comment about three words that all point to life:

1. Even though I WALK. . . . . . .

Have you ever seen a walking corpse? NO! Yet from a spiritual perspective every person who doesn't know the true shepherd, Jesus Christ, is exactly that. The Bible tells us they are dead in trespasses and sins. In fact we were all that way - WALKING CORPSES.

Ephesians 2:1-2 says: 'As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, you followed the ways of this present world and its spiritual ruler. This ruler continues to work in people who refuse to obey God.'

Verse 5 says 'We were all dead because of our transgressions and sins, but He made us alive together with Christ (It is God's grace that saved you).'

Life in this world has the shadow of death on it because of unbelief (Rejection of God's truth). When Adam and Eve chose to doubt God's word, they allowed the virus of unbelief to enter our cosmos and with that disobedience came the shadow of death. Until that time Adam & Eve walked in perfect unity with God. But sin brought decay and decay brings death.

Yet those who respond to Jesus Christ, and His claim as the Good Shepherd can have no fear of death because they WALK with the author of Life. As we continue to respond to His guidance, to the leadership of the SHEPHERD OF OUR SOULS we walk in the revelation of God's light.

Ephesians 9:2 'The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, a light has shined upon them.'

that light is Jesus Christ (the manifestation of the character and love of the Father) and as we walk as lambs in the footsteps of Jesus, the great Shepherd we are never alone. Walking in the valley but with the Messiah as our companian.

  • 2. Even though I walk THROUGH. . . . . . . . . .

  • Notice David is not interested in stopping - His journey is THROUGH the valley and He makes the declaration that he is not alone - He is walking with the Shepherd "You are with me"

  • There are many times when we as believers will go through periods that seem just like this valley:

  • Periods of Sickness

  • Periods of Financial crisis

  • Periods of personal or relational crisis

  • Negative work circumstances

I'm sure you can add to the list, times when we just don't see the end of the tunnel. But for David it was about LIFE, because he was intent on WALKING THROUGH the situations he faced because he had the Shepherd with Him. He wasn't about to quit, to linger in that place. The valley was no place to stop.

Sometimes we may be so overwhelmed by circumstances we lose direction, and we feel like sitting down, quitting, but when we keep our eyes on Jesus Christ the problems deminish. Remember the story of the Apostle Peter who walked on the water at Galillee. While he was focussed on Jesus the wind and the waves and the water were insignificant surroundings. When he began to look around, his focus wavered and he began to sink. We don't know, but I think his steps probably began to falter. Instead of walking through the waves he allowed them to consume him.

It's times like these, when we use the word of God and cry out to Him, that we can focus on Him and walk through the tough times with Jesus, our great Shepherd.

3. Even though I walk through the SHADOW of the Valley. . . . . . .

David knew that he need have no fear. David knew that the SHADOW has no substance. It is an illusion of something not real. David understood the SUBSTANCE of his relationship with God was far greater than any illusion the devil may throw up.

John 10:10 tells us 'the thief (the devil) comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy, but I (Jesus) have come that you might have life and that more abundantly.'

When we understand that Jesus our shepherd is with us and the devils efforts are all bluff and bluster, a shadow without substance, we can WALK THROUGH the SHADOW knowing that God has always got us covered. As we walk with Him, keeping our focus on Him, not being distracted by the things of the world, Jesus authority and power flow through us in life.

One last thought as I conclude: Psalm 23:4 continues 'Your ROD & STAFF they comfort me.' The Rod & Staff were tools of the Shepherds trade. They were used for both protection and discipline. They withstood the enemy and guided the sheep. There is a great deal of comfort when we know our boundaries and we know there is a sentinal there to keep the enemy away. There is always safety while we stay within the boundaries of God's Word.

The experiences of the valley provide a greater awareness of our Saviour, they produce faith and life in all who walk with the Shepherd.

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