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Bible Study on the Valley of Death: Psalm 23 Devotional

It's hard to imagine that there could be peace in a world wrought in confusion, misdirection, ill intentions, and bottom line all-out sin. However, there is the silver lining of peace known to Christians. Even though chaos is happening around them, there seems to be this deep inner calm amidst the droning world around them. Life for them is like being on a continuous stage for the world to see, however.

There will be hardships, there's no sugar-coating it. But what are we to do when trials make us hit rock bottom and take everything away, such as like Job? This article will focus on trials through life's valleys and peace, and why Christians have an unshakable faith and how the nonbeliever can experience everlasting life.

Devotional Reading of Psalm 23:4: A Bible Study on the Valley of Death

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4, NIV.

Historical Significance of the Valley of Death

Some translations of the Bible will translate the words "darkest valley" to "Valley of the Shadow of Death."

  • This is not a contradiction.

  • What is happening here is a more detailed translation.

It's important to note the context behind scripture, as well as historical significance so the full illustration is understood as it was intended to be.

Below is a video from Rhoda and Sergio, two guides in Israel, that expand on the historical significance and context of this passage.

After watching the video above, I hope you have a more thorough understanding of why grasping historical context helps elaborate on the full story.

  • In the valley of Kidron in Jerusalem, there is a graveyard with modern and ancient architecture.

  • Many Jewish families will pay huge amounts of money to be buried here as it is held by custom that when Christ returns and enters through the East Gate, that He will pass this valley. Much significance is encompassed in just this one scripture.

The valley of Hinnom is known for gruesome sacrifices to Molech (also Moloch) and Baal (the same demons that are attached to abortions).

  • As the video mentions, the Bible illustrates that this part of Jerusalem will be like an "unquenchable fire" and that the children of Israel will look on and it will be like--not literal--hell (Jeremiah 17:27, Jeremiah 39:8, 2 Chronicles 36:19).

  • The Hebrew word for hell is "gehenom,"which is derived from "Gehenna."

After putting this into perspective, it's time to go into the weeds a bit about spiritual significance.

What Can be Learned from the Valley of the Shadow of Death?

Scripture mentioned in the paragraph above:"People will come from the towns of Judah and the villages around Jerusalem, from the territory of Benjamin and the western foothills, from the hill country and the Negev, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the LORD. But if you do not obey me to keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying any load as you come through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortress." Jeremiah 17:26-27, NIV See the full chapter here

"Then he put out Zedekiah's eyes and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon. The Babylonians set fire to the walls of Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard carried into exile to Babylon the people who remained in the city, along with those who had gone over to him, and the rest of the people." Jeremiah 39:7-9, NIV See reference here"They set fire to God's temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there." 2 Chronicles 36:19, NIV.

See reference here

  • The repeated lesson here is that when God states He will fulfill His word, He completes the objective in its entirety.

  • God warned the tribes of Jerusalem and when they failed to listen, He let them become slaves to their enemies.

  • The prophecy of the fire in Jerusalem's gates was fulfilled.

  • When the tribes of Israel began to split and become like other nations, God allowed them to become lost amongst them in punishment.

  • Be cautious when the phrase "only God can judge" leaves the mouth because it usually isn't enticing a blessing, but antagonizing God to bring punishment and God will not be put to the test.

See also Nehemiah 13:15, 17-18, and Mark 2:27 on how the rise of legalism came to be regarding the Sabbath and how it became idolatry in the Jewish customs.

You are With Me

Going back to the devotional reading, the rest of the verse says "I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

  • "I will fear no evil" mentions that for the Christian, death is no longer to be feared for there is eternal life.

  • Death no longer holds the victory.

  • As this is a Davidic psalm (written by King David), he is detailing passing through the Valley of the Shadow of Death during the Rebellion of Absalom.

  • God's promise was to never leave or forsake humanity

"for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" brings into focus two attributes of God through the mention of the rod and the staff: grace and sovereignty.

  • Christ is mentioned as the Good Shepherd and shepherds would use a rod and staff to govern their flocks.

  • God governs His people by both protecting them and disciplining them.

  • God is a god who stays through trials (the valleys) and never leaves

For a more detailed look at Psalm 23, see Bible Study Tools at their article Psalm 23 and Charles Whitaker's commentary through Bible Tools See the following articles for a more in-depth view of the attributes of God.

  • Attributes of God: Introduction

  • Letter B: Bread of Life

  • Attributes of God: Letter C, Comforter

Knowing Christ

An excerpt from my article The Fight to Preserve Freedom: Understanding sin and slavery is the key to understanding freedom. When one realizes the depth of sin and being enslaved, freedom has a much deeper context. Paul portrays beautifully the clear path to not only salvation but what occurred on the cross spiritually. When Christ died, he spiritually crucified every sin for every person. Those who do not believe do not have eternal life. Christ is clear one must CHOOSE to submit to Him. Death and sin are what Pastor Voddie Baucham calls “co-regents.” One can’t reign without the aid of the other.

Those who have been converted into Christ’s family, they go from being under the law of death to the law of grace or life. Being enslaved to sin lies in being enslaved to the body. Likewise, being enslaved to the Spirit lies in being spiritually regenerated. So if you keep company with those that are Christian and yet do not make the choice yourself, that does not mean you are saved from the power of sin. It just merely means you are masking it more. It is spiritually impossible to please God apart from being spiritually regenerated. The will is forever bent to sin apart from God Those who reject Christ are weighing an eternal decision away from Him. Life can be chosen today and an eternity in heaven. Getting to heaven is impossible through "good works" as no good works exist aside from Christ as man is corrupt. The only one worthy to save is Christ and Him alone. Do not let the clock go down on your life. To say "I make no decision" is to make a decision of rebellion. There is hope for the lost and it begins by confessing sins in humility and asking God's forgiveness as he says that for anyone who calls on His name to be saved, He will save them.

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