Psalm 23 is perhaps one of the most well known of all the psalms. It's a beautiful psalm portraying the Shepherd (Jesus) and His sheep (you and me). But I want to focus on just one verse.
"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."
So what is this shadow of death? Here are four things you should know about the shadow:
The shadow can terrorize us (if we allow it to). The dark image, or adversary, can be frightening. A shadow intercepts light. Did you get that? It intercepts the light (but only temporarily).
The shadow can distort reality. It may not look like what you expected. Think of your physical shadow. It doesn't look the same as the reflection you see in a mirror. It appears to be something it is not. It's dark and distorted.
The shadow demands that you not be alone. You can't separate yourself from your shadow. There's no breaking away from it, running from it, or erasing it. You can close your eyes and wish it away but when you reopen your eyes, it's still there (for the moment).
The shadow is part of God's creation and drives us out of the valley. God created everything; therefore, He created the shadow. He allowed the dark situation you are facing. But this shadow may very well serve the purpose of driving you out of the valley. And the only place you can go when you're driven out of the valley is to the top of the mountain.
"I will fear no evil" means that you do not need to be afraid. Our Shepherd is our source of courage. Deuteronomy 31:6b says, "He will never leave you nor forsake you." To have courage means to have confidence in Him, to have faith. He will protect you and guide you through the darkest times of your life.
"For You are with me" speaks of companionship. You are never alone. The Lord is by your side in every situation, no matter how dark or uncertain the road ahead might seem. Remembering again that He will never leave you nor forsake you is assurance that you truly are not alone.
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." This is our assurance of His protection. He will protect you in the valley. And He will comfort you when you are hurting or grieving.
The Lord is fully aware of every situation you find yourself in. So what will you do when you find yourself in the valley? Have courage!