Psalm 23 is a very well-known chapter in the Bible and most Christians, and many non-Christians, can recite at least part of it from memory.
A couple weeks ago at church, a new perspective on this popular Psalm was presented and it really opened my eyes to some things that I wanted to share with you.
I will be focusing on Psalm 23 verse 4:
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.
Notice how the verse says the valley of the shadow of death. So, what is a shadow? According to the dictionary, a shadow is a dark area or shape produced by an object that comes between rays of light and a surface. In my experience, a shadow is a not a true representation of the size of the object that is being projected. Do you remember making hand puppets on the wall with a flashlight as a child? The projection of your hand on the wall was huge compared to the actual size of your hand. So where am I going with this?
What if I told you that many times the way we perceive the problems in our lives, are merely a shadow representation of a much smaller issue. I know this is true in my life. I am great at taking little problems or stressors and turning them into much bigger issues that bleed into and negatively affect other areas of my life. After a while, all I see is the shadow, and it is daunting, and I forget what miniscule thing sparked the anxiety and fear in the first place.
Also, a shadow is not tangible, but is cast by something that is. We face only the shadow of death because Jesus conquered death on the cross and took our place. We have nothing to fear for death has been defeated and through Jesus, we can overcome any valley in our life. Plug any worry or struggle into the verse above:
The valley of the shadow of depression.
The valley of the shadow of anxiety.
The valley of the shadow of insecurity.
The valley of the shadow of addiction.
Christ’s death on the cross has conquered all those struggles and when you trust in Him as your savior; all that remains is the shadow, an intangible, deceitful representation of the issue.
Shadows are also not harmful. Charles Spurgeon paints the picture well with this quote, “Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot stop a man’s pathway even for a moment. The shadow of a dog cannot bite; the shadow of a sword cannot kill; the shadow of death cannot destroy us.”
I find his first example interesting as it ties directly with the first part of the verse, "Even though I walk..." Walk is an active verb. You must cognitively decide to walk. It is not just going to happen by chance or accident. The verse does not say, “even though I sit and wait for God to carry me through the valley…” We must choose to walk through our valleys, realizing that the shadows of our struggles and fears have no hold on us and trust that God will be right beside us, guiding and comforting us through to the other side.
I hope this is helpful for you. This perspective really opened my eyes to how many shadows I fear in my life, and how strong of a hold they have on my mood and how I treat my wife and the people around me. It helped me pinpoint certain aspects of my life that I often snowball into bigger worries for no reason and helped me see that I don’t need to fear or become anxious about these things because Christ is in control and has already won.
Please shoot us an email or DM to let us know if we can be praying for you in any way. Much love.
Great words Caleb! They have lifted the shadow of doubt I have been facing.