December 13 2022
Today, Tuesday December 13
No Fear of Death
“Yea, 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.”
Yesterday as I was reading my Proverb for the day, a verse jumped out at me. “In the way of righteousness is life, And in its pathway there is no death” (Proverbs 12:28). I immediately thought of Psalm 23:3-4 and saw a connection between the three verses. When we are following our Good Shepherd as “He leads us in the paths of righteousness” we will not fear death when it crosses our path.
Jesus told Martha in John 11:25-26: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" A true believer in Jesus Christ cannot die, in other words, he or she can never be separated from the Lord Jesus Christ.
This brought to my mind another passage in John 10:27-29: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.” I don’t know how many times I quoted these verses at the bedside of a dear believer as they were drawing their last breath before stepping into eternity.
Did you notice in the central verse of this Psalm that the personal pronoun changes from “he” to “you”. (“He leads me”, “He makes me”, “He restores me”). In the first three verses David was speaking about the Shepherd, but now in verse 4 David is speaking to the Shepherd. He is not before us but beside us, leading the way and calming our fears. The "vale of deep darkness" represents any difficult experience of life that makes us afraid, and that includes death. Sheep lack good vision and are easily frightened in new circumstances, especially where it's dark; and the presence of the shepherd calms them.
My friend, what a tremendous assurance we find in these passages as we go through the dark times of pain and suffering, distress and depression, and often the parting of a loved one. The rod was a heavy cudgel with which the shepherd could stun or kill an attacking beast, and the staff was the shepherd's crook, which he used to assist the individual sheep. At evening, he would have the sheep pass under the crook one by one so he could count them and examine them (Lev. 27:32).
It gave the flock peace knowing that the shepherd was there and was equipped for any emergency. He is "Immanuel... God with us" (Matt. 1:23). Jesus is not a hireling who runs away at the sight of danger; he is a true Shepherd who lay down his life for his sheep (John 10:11-15). God's sheep have "peace with God" (Rom. 5:1) and may enjoy "the peace of God" (Phil. 4:4-7) as they trust Him. Through life, as we follow the Shepherd, we will have many and varied experiences, some of which will be very trying, but none of them can take the Lord by surprise. We may trust Him and have peace. The closer we are to our Shepherd, the safer we are and the more His peace will fill our hearts.
I’ll never forget the dear older saint in Holland Michigan, at Calvary Baptist where I pastored for 8 years, say just before she sang, “If you take His hand in the Light, you won’t have to look for it in the darkness.” Wow! How true.
I’ve told the story many times of the pastor whose wife died to illustrate this verse. He and his two young children were leaving the cemetery, driving back to the house and the children were asking about death and if it hurt. The father noticed that as the big trucks would pass them in the other lane that they cast a big shadow in their lane. As the next truck approached, he asked the children, “Do you want me to hit the truck or hit the shadow?” They immediately exclaimed, “Daddy, hit the shadow, it can’t hurt you”.
Today, my dear friend, you can trust your Great Shepherd to always be with you in whatever you might be facing in life. He promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)!