The Shadow of Death, Ps 23:4

Ps 23 4 The Shadow of Death CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

David said in Ps 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…”  In this broadcast we are going to study the shadow of death.  We notice, first of all, that this is what Job called the place where he was going when he died.  But this is not what David was referring to when he spoke of the valley.

In Job 10:21-22 Job spoke of a land of darkness, where the light is as darkness.  Job was referring to his death and where he would go.  In Job 38:17 the Lord asked Job about the gates of death and the doors of the shadow of death.  You can see that this is a place.  But in Ps 23:4, David appears to be talking about a shadow cast by death in the earth.

In Job 3:5 Job spoke about darkness and the shadow of death, a cloud, and the blackness of the day.  So, Job knew about this as more than just a place where he would go after he died.  When death comes to kill many people at once, it casts a shadow of darkness.  Remember the darkness in Ex 10:21 that preceded the plague of the death of the firstborn in Egypt.  Likewise, remember the darkness that the pillar of the cloud cast upon Pharaoh and his chariots the night before they all drowned in the Red Sea [Ex 14:19-20].  Job said, referring to the day he was born, “let a cloud dwell upon it.”  Remember the darkness over the earth the day Jesus died [Lk 23:44].  It was black in the daytime like Job said.  And notice the darkness that precedes Armageddon [Rev 16:10, 16]. 

So, it is a shadow of darkness that is cast by death.  In Jer 2:6 Jeremiah refers to the wilderness where the Jews wandered as a land of the shadow of death.  Several times we see many numbers of Jews killed by a plague when they were in the wilderness.  In Ex 32:35 there was a plague following the worship of the golden calf.  Then, in Num 11:33 there was a plague that killed many when they were eating the quail.  In Num 14:37 the men who made the evil report of Canaan were killed by a plague. And in Num 16:49, 14,700 people died in the plague following the complaints about the deaths of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.  In Num 25:9 24,000 people died in the plague at Peor.

Now let’s look at Is 9:1-2.  Isaiah writes about a light affliction and a more grievous affliction followed by people dwelling in the land of the shadow of death who see a great light.  The light affliction began with Benhadad when he was hired by Asa to stop Baasha from building Ramah [2 Chr 16:4].  The more grievous affliction occurred when Tiglathpileser attacked Pekah and carried much of Israel captive to Assyria [2 Ki 15:29].  This land in Israel will be under the shadow of death when the antichrist comes to destroy Israel completely.  

According to Matt 4:15-16, Israel saw the great light at the first coming of Jesus.  But since they didn’t accept him as their Messiah during his first coming, they will be under the shadow of death when the antichrist comes to destroy them.  Jesus will return to defeat the antichrist and stop the death he inflicts on Israel.  And, once again, they will see the great light.  According to Jer 13:16 Israel will be looking for light and God will turn it into the shadow of death and gross darkness [Job 34:22] because of the antichrist.  Job, who pictures a tribulation saint during this darkness, said “on my eyelids is the shadow of death,” [Job 16:16].

So, in Ps 23:4, when David talks about walking through the valley of the shadow of death, evidently he is referring to those in Israel who are under this who fear no evil because the Lord is with them.  As in Ps 44:17-19, they are covered with it, but they are not killed by it.  They are like those in Ps 107:10-14 who sit in darkness and who are then brought out of it by the Lord.  This happens at the second coming of Jesus as prophesied in Amos 5:8, “Seek him that… turneth the shadow of death into the morning.”

Conclusion: the shadow of death is a darkness cast by death.  Job spoke about it.  The Jews saw it when they were in Egypt and in the wilderness.  Isaiah prophesied about it concerning the coming Tribulation.  And Jesus will save Israel out of it when he returns.  Therefore, David said that if he were walking through this valley, he would fear no evil because the Lord was with him.  And that’s exactly how a Jew in the Tribulation will have to get through it.