Psalm 23:4 - 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.
Sometimes our culture seems to be obsessed with death. Death is regarded as a fearful, inescapable thing, and yet it appears as a theme in songs and movies and video games. Some people take the lives of others without hesitation, while still others seek to control the circumstances of their own deaths. Whatever their feelings on the subject, that fact of the matter is that everyone, at some point, must walk through "the valley of the shadow of death."
Psalm 23 is often used in funeral and memorial services; it is a psalm loved for the comfort it brings. But it is a psalm that could also be used on Easter morning because it expresses our trust in the Good Shepherd who died and rose to save His sheep. Jesus said, "I lay down My life for the sheep ... I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again" (John 10:15b, 18a). Our Shepherd is the Lamb who was slain and by His blood "ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9b). Jesus, the Lamb of God and Good Shepherd, went through the valley of the shadow of death for us. Now our risen and reigning Shepherd wants to lead us safely through that same valley.
When we do stand at the edge of that valley—and, unless Jesus returns first, we will all arrive there—we have comfort and hope that death and its shadows cannot destroy. We will fear no evil because Jesus defeated the powers of sin, death and the devil—evil foes that cannot harm us or separate us from God. Jesus will be with us because He has promised, "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). The Shepherd carries the rod and staff of His Word, the rod as a weapon to drive away dangers that threaten His sheep and the staff to guide His sheep to eternal green pastures and still waters. Even in the face of death, our Shepherd is there to defend us and guide us.
We do not have to ask what lies on the other side of the valley of the shadow of death. After crossing that valley, we "shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever" (Psalm 23:6b). With all the saints, we will see and worship the Lamb who is our Shepherd: "He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 7:15b-17).
WE PRAY: Jesus my Shepherd, walk with me and guide me according to Your Word. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. What is it about death that makes it such a popular theme in entertainment?
2. Why do you think God is often portrayed as a Shepherd when it comes to showing His care?
3. Death can come in an instant. What is it about being alive that makes death seem so far away?
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