“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 comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
It is one of the most beloved and well-known psalms in the Old Testament, according to religious leaders.
Here the faithful feel the ravages of death and are reassured that we are not alone as we approach the end of our lives.
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But what are psalms and why is this psalm so popular?
According to Insight.org, a website that shares the teachings of the ministry of well-known pastor and Christian broadcaster Chuck Swindoll, the psalms “include an ancient hymn of God’s people.”
Poetry is “often set to music,” says the same source.
“The psalms express the poet’s feelings toward God or God,” the website says.
It also states that different types of psalms were written “to convey different feelings and thoughts about the psalmist’s situation.”
The classic psalms “represent the author’s plea to God in difficult circumstances,” the website adds.
“The psalms, also called hymns, describe the author’s direct offering of admiration to God.”
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Psalms of thanksgiving usually “reflect the author’s gratitude” for deliverance from God, he said.
Other types of psalms are known today as psalms of wisdom, psalms of kings (referring to Israel’s king or Messiah), psalms of victory, psalms of the Law, and psalms of Zion.
In writing this psalm, King David teaches that God is “with us in the darkness” when man walks in the valley of death – “a place of darkness”.
That’s according to Rabbi Pinchas Taylor, founder of The Ark Torah study and mentoring program in Plantation, Florida.
“It is our triumphs in which he participates, but our battles are also his battles, as well as our difficulties, our fears, and our darkness.”
Rabbi Taylor said, “God is ‘closer’ to us in these dark times.”
“In two verses of the same psalm, King David, speaking of peaceful times, uses the longer, third-person form to refer to God: ‘He made me lie down in green pastures,'” he said.
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Only when King David speaks of “painful times” does he directly refer to God in the second person: “‘You are with me,'” Taylor said.
As he noted, “There is no time when God is closer to us than in pain.”
Taylor says the psalm “emphasizes the importance” of God’s role in our lives.
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“We are created in the image of God, and therefore God accompanies us through all the difficulties of life,” he said.
“Our victories are his, but our battles are also his battles, as well as our challenges, our fears and our darkness,” he said.
Rabbi Taylor also stated: “When a man realizes that God is with him, he realizes that he has the most precious and valuable blessing imaginable, and thus, as the verse says, nothing disturbs or worries him.”
Stay tuned for more Bible verses of the day during the Advent season. To see yesterday’s Bible verse, Click here.