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.” Psalm 23:4

The greatest fear for most people is death. It’s a shared fear globally. I fear it too, not so much because of doubts about my eternal destiny but more because of its finality in cutting me off from all whom I love and all that I love on this side of eternity. For a season, at least. True what’s in heaven is infinitely better but having enjoyed so much of life on earth it’s hard to let go and leave your loved ones behind. That would be my greatest struggle. Everyone hates a “premature” departure although virtually everyone at death’s door thinks his or her demise is “untimely” or “premature”! It is but a reflection that we are designed for immortality

Many believe that when David wrote Psalm 23, he was already an old man, far from the days of his youth as a ruddy-cheeked shepherd boy. This supposition arises from the mature form of the prose both in content and composition. He says this: “Even though I walk through the valley….” That’s a description of the loneliness of the journey as we near death. It’s a valley. It’s a low. Gone are the heady days of mountain top bravado and invincibility. But what is this valley? It’s the valley of the “shadow of death!” That’s truly deep insight! Death a shadow? Yes the much-feared adversary is only ultimately a shade. And shades and shadows can’t kill! Wow!

Why? Not because we are immortal but somehow because God’s very presence ensures we will not and cannot perish! “For you are with me!” is a cry of triumphant assurance in the face of death. How are we preserved? By his “rod and staff”. They are the source of comfort. Rods are used to club wolves and thieves to protect the sheep. Staffs lead the sheep with authority into safety. Together they provide comfort to a dying believer. Satan cannot steal my soul- God’s rod protects me! I will reach the land of the living: His staff guides me! This then, is the assurance of a man who has cultivated the presence of the Lord from youth. In here then, is the death of fear!

Dr Philip Lyn

Young AdultsComment