I saw a devotional this morning, that spoke about how we have peace with the LORD God when we are awake, but especially, when we lay down to sleep. It quoted Psalm 4:8, and the prayer taken from it that my Godmother Helen used to have us kids to say before we were put to bed each night when I visited my cousins—“Now I lay me down to sleep…”.
But the verse that stood out to me this morning was from Psalm 23:4. As I read the verse over and over again, the words “valley of the shadow of death” resonated within me. For David, who had many enemies, being under attack by his king, and even by his own son at one point, I can see how this Psalm poured out of his soul and onto paper.
I looked up the verse, and the specific word צלמות “salmavet”, which in Hebrew is “of the shadow of death”. It is also defined as “death-shadow” (of distress, extreme danger), “deep shadow”, and “deep darkness” (of place of the dead). Even though they are mostly used figuratively, I sense there is a more literal meaning of it than we would like to admit.
This world has become more and more “the valley of the shadow of death”. In fact, I dare say that literally walking in this world right now IS like walking through the “shadow of Death”—the same Death that is mentioned in Revelation 20:14–the Greek word for death being θάνατος = “Thanatos”, the name for the ancient Greek god of Death (in Rome, the god was “Mors”). Thanatos may sound familiar, since in recent years the Avengers movies had a supervillain character named “Thanos” which first appeared in the Marvel comics. He most certainly lived up to the name in those movies.
Some other Bible verses that include “the shadow of death” or the other definitions of it are in Psalm 107:10–“There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, Prisoners in misery and chains…” Boy, does that sound a lot like the people who basically are the “walking dead” on this Earth right now, who deny the very GOD who allows them to still have BREATH in their lungs.
Another verse is from Matthew 4:16 which is taken from Isaiah 9:2, “The people that walked in darkness (חשׁך)- kho-shek’, which means “darkness, obscurity”; “darkness”, “secret place”, “death”, “misery”, “IGNORANCE”—!, “sorrow”, “wickedness”. Hmm, very interesting how that is “figuratively” used, because the way our world is right now—actually, it has BEEN that way, but MOST of us have been ASLEEP, eating the “Lotus cookies” (some of you will 😉get that), busy with our own lives, not paying attention to what really has been going on in the world, both physically and SPIRITUALLY.
We human spirits have partaken in “panem et circenses”—“bread and circuses—a WHOLE lot of distraction from what has really gone on in this world—the work of the evil ones who “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10)—the HUMAN PUPPET AGENTS of SATAN who have continued his work for millennia, because he vowed to himself to take as many with him as possible to the Pit and ultimately, to “the LAKE WHICH BURNETH WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE; which is the SECOND DEATH” (Rev. 21:8). That “second death” is WORSE than the first, because it is PERMANENT and ETERNAL.
WHAT needs to happen if one wants to avoid that “valley of the shadow of death”? You cannot avoid that, for WE ALL who are living ad breathing, are walking IN that valley right NOW—it is HERE on EARTH; it IS EARTH. Hence the reason why David wrote it the way he did, “Even though I WALK THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death”; David realized he was IN that valley throughout his lifetime. This entire life is about HOW to walk through that valley of death, misery, destruction, evil works, etc., and come out FROM it, with the help of the ONLY ONE Who can “deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13) that we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste of every single day of our lives. THAT Person is within the Eternal Triune Godhead—the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus DEFEATED Hell and Death (very real evil spirits) at the Cross, and OWNS the keys (Rev. 1:18)!! He is the ONLY ONE Who was RESURRECTED, and because of His victory at the Cross, as Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” The Lord Jesus has made a way back to the Father—the ONLY way, for He IS “the way, the truth, and the LIFE” (Jn. 14:6), and there is NO OTHER WAY out of eternal DARKNESS, the shadow of DEATH, or DAMNATION, except one who acknowledges Jesus as LORD and SAVIOR of their life (Romans 10:9-10,13).
If you want out of the “valley of the shadow of death”, you first must REPENT (Ez. 14:6; 18:30; Matt. 3:2; Mk. 1:15; Lk. 13:3,5; Acts 2:38; 8:22). The Lord Jesus warns once again of what will happen if people do not repent of their sins and wickedness: “Therefore, repent. If not, I will come to you SOON and war against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:16). The “sword” IS His Word, and He, Jesus, IS THE WORD OF GOD.
SEEK the Lord and His Word out. BE HUMBLE and ASK Him to forgive you of your sins, and LIVE as a child of the King, Who WILL hold your hand and walk WITH you, “through the valley of the shadow of death” here, UNTIL the “appointed time” (Dan. 8:19; 11:35; Hab. 2:3; for Him to come back and “redeem His people” (2 Sam. 7:23; Job 5:20; Ps. 69:18; Is. 50:2; Jer. 15:21), and I will end with Hosea 13:14a: “I SHALL ransom them from the power of Sheol; I SHALL REDEEM them from DEATH…”