#52 – not just for funerals anymore


as a reminder – this is where we are in our movement through the 23rd Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.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.

That one line is the one we hear every time a movie fades to a graveyard scene with a priest standing over a casket speaking “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death….”

But that line is actually so much more important than just funerals.

“Shadow of Death” feels like it only applies to that one moment at the end of your life. However, the Hebrew word tsalmaveth צַלְמָוֶת is what we’re looking at here. From tsel “a shadow” + maveth “death”. So literally the word in Psalm 23 is “death-shadow.” But this same Hebrew word occurs in many other places in the Bible and it’s usually translated into English as: deep darkness, deep shadow, thick darkness, dark, or even black gloom.

The word that becomes ‘evil’ that we are not to fear -is commonly translated as adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displeasure, distress.

So perhaps its clearer for us to think of this verse as: Even when I walk through places of black-gloom-shadows, i will fear no bad thing.

The Message translates it as: Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid.

The line is not written in the future tense – but present. Now – as I walk through. Not -some time in the future when one time I will walk through.


So what?

So – this phrase, this idea, this Psalm is not just for funerals.

This idea that we don’t have to be afraid is meaningful to our everyday lives. It should be applicable whenever something bad/ scary/ dangerous/ threatening/ evil happens to us …in any way, at any time.

That’s when we should remember we have a good shepherd with us.

And we don’t need to be afraid.


What frightens you? What is scaring you right now – at this point in your life? What threatens (your reputation, resources, career, family, health, well-being, happiness, etc etc)

Re-read the Psalm – with that as your “valley of the shadow of death”. Something like this:

“Even though I walk through a week where I”m not sure my company will survive one more pay-day, I will fear nothing bad, For you are with me”


Good Shepherd,
you are with me.
Even when I don’t remember,
even when I don’t see it,
or feel it,
or even believe it.
Give me strength to walk through today’s valleys.