Psalm 23:4 says: “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.”
Matthew Henry expounds this text and JRR Tolkien shares a beautiful story:
1. Because there is no evil in it to a child of God; death cannot separate us from the love of God, and therefore it can do us no real harm; it kills the body, but cannot touch the soul. Why should it be dreadful when there is nothing in it hurtful?
2. Because the saints have God’s gracious presence with them in their dying moments; he is there at their right hand, and therefore why should they be moved?
I will fear no evil. If one finds himself in a valley of deep darkness (or shadow of death), he need not fear. The Lord is with him and will protect him. The rod and staff are the shepherd’s equipment to protect the sheep in such situations.
A child of God may meet the messengers of death, and receive its summons with a holy security and serenity of mind.
In the Return of the King, as the orcs are over-running the city, Gandalf talks with Pippen about how death is not the end.
Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. There’s another path; one that we all must take. The curtain of this world rolls back….and all will turn to silver glass, and then you see it….
Pippin: See what?
Gandalf: White shores; and beyond them, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
Pippin: Well… that isn’t so bad….
Gandalf: No… no it isn’t.