Psalm 23: Shadow of Death

The words of Psalm 23 have run through my mind this past week.

As a child, I memorized this Psalm.

{It’s actually pretty funny, because the Bible translations of today don’t have a version that says it exactly the way I memorized it.}

Here it is, “my version.” [ The ESV is pretty close, though 🙂 ]

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He RESTORES my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for HIS name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear NO evil, for You are with me.

Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil,
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me ALL the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

It’s an amazing Psalm.
There is such truth in it, and such amazing promises to hold onto!

There’s a phrase in there, “shadow of death.” I always picture a deep, dark valley with a menacing cloud over it. It’s always scary.

I actually see something similar to this photo, except void of color, black, depressing…the type of terrain you would have to suck in a deep breath and summon much courage to descend into and hike across.


What does the word, “shadow,” actually mean?

  1. A dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface.

  2. Used in reference to proximity, ominous oppressiveness, or sadness and gloom.

I’ve been realizing that:

  • A shadow is not reality.
    A shadow pretends. It mimics. It copies. It hides.
    A shadow can’t actually hurt anything.
    (But it’s easy to be afraid of it, because it looks so real.)
  • A shadow attempts to hide the truth.
    It tries to smother beauty.

The image above is gorgeous. It is living and breathing, full of life and vivid color.
The shadow of death attempts to steal, kill and destroy all that is beautiful, loving, full of life, joyful.

Yes, there are times of real struggle and death and pain and heartache.

But…amid all of it, God still remains. Steadfast. Unwavering.
“I will fear NO evil, for you are with me.”

He goes with us. Before us. Beside us. He is for us. Always.
We needn’t fear even in the midst of what “seems” to be the worst.
It is but a shadow.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NLT)


I love that. I love HIM. My God is GOOD.
His promises give me strength to walk forward into tomorrow.
The unknown doesn’t seem as scary.
The shadows are still dark, but it doesn’t matter. They’ll flee.
I have a Mighty Warrior who is called Jesus, the Son of the Living God.
He walks beside me.
He holds my hand.
He delights in me.
He fights for me.
He LOVES me.
He loves YOU.

He is fighting for you.


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