Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Through the Valleys
The valleys of the shadow of death are deep and sunless places, according to the Amplified Bible. I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death more times than I care to remember. My shadows of death include three chronic illnesses, infertility, miscarriage, divorce, family strife, loss of family members and friends, health scares of my own and family members and friends, a grandmother with Alzheimer's, and more. So much more.

The shadow of death is referred to 18 times in the KJV of the Bible.
The Hebrew word for shadow of death is tsalmaveth, which means:

1) death-shadow, deep shadow, deep darkness, shadow of death
a) death-shadow
b) death-shadow, deep shadow, darkness
c) death-shadow (of distress, extreme danger) (fig)
d) death-shadow (of place of the dead) (fig)

Although the valley of the shadow of death is sometimes long and most often painful, we don't walk through it alone. God is there with His rod and His staff, walking along with us, or perhaps even carrying us.

The Hebrew word for rod is shebet, and means:

1) rod, staff, branch, offshoot, club, sceptre, tribe
a) rod, staff
b) shaft (of spear, dart)
c) club (of shepherd's implement)
d) truncheon, sceptre (mark of authority)
e) clan, tribe

This use of shebet refers to shepherds who are tending their flocks. The shepherds would use the shebet to fight off prey and to gently guide wandering sheep, not strike them for being out of line.

When we are going through the valley of the shadow of death, there certainly is no need to fear.
Our great Shepherd uses His rod as a protective mechanism for us. It's not used for discipline here, but for gentle guidance and leading.

God's staff, or mish`enah, in Hebrew, is defined as:

1) support (of every kind), staff

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." ~ Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
God comforts us each of us through each valley of the shadow of death we walk through, leading and supporting us as we go through these times. He is not only our great Shepherd, but also our Comforter.

The Hebrew word for comfort is nacham, which means:
1) to be sorry, console oneself, repent, regret, comfort, be comforted
a) (Niphal)
1) to be sorry, be moved to pity, have compassion
2) to be sorry, rue, suffer grief, repent
3) to comfort oneself, be comforted
4) to comfort oneself, ease oneself
b) (Piel) to comfort, console
c) (Pual) to be comforted, be consoled
d) (Hithpael)
1) to be sorry, have compassion
2) to rue, repent of
3) to comfort oneself, be comforted
4) to ease oneself

Knowing that God cares for me with the compassion and pity makes me want to praise Him. I rejoice that He not only is with me in the valley, comforting me with His rod and staff, but that He leads me through the valley. We are not intended to stay in the valley of the shadow of death forever!

"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." ~ Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV)

Remember that as we walk through the valleys of the shadow of death, others are watching to see how we endure our trials. They are watching to see how we receive comfort and need to know that we are relying on our Great Shepherd, our Comforter, who is there with His rod and His staff, directing our every step.

Heartbeat: He has comforted us in the biggest way of all through His Son Jesus Christ!

Verse for Reflection: "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." ~ John 15:16 (NIV)

Heart to Heart: How has God comforted you through a valley of the shadow of death? Thank Him for His love and mercy in guiding you through the valleys.

To view all posts in this series, please visit the links below.

The purpose of WFW is to share the Word of God through photo's and a verse. Amydeanne, over at The 160 Acre Woods, is our hostess. Be sure to link up and share your own. This is a wonderful way to minister to others and to be ministered to by reading others posts. Please visit by clicking on the button below.


Denise said...

Such a great post, love you.

Tammy said...

What an encouraging post - it is comforting and gives hope knowing that our Shepherd is there to guide and protect us. I am so thankful for the many times He has been there when I have gone through the valley. Have a joyful Thanksgiving!

Nicole said...

Love how you've broke this down for us! I am so thankful for God's protection, love, and compassion while I was walking though some intense times of health issues. I will praise Him every day of my life for all that He has brought me through. Without Him none of this would of been possible!

Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for spuring me on to praise my Father today!


Schotzy said...

powerful stuff, this! thanks so much for your insight and teaching!

ozjane said...

Lovely thoughtful and well researched post.....I love the little lamb in the graphic.
I too have walked through lots of those valleys....He is My Shepherd.
His rod and staff.......they comfort me.
Thanksgiving blessings.

LauraLee Shaw said...

One of the verses I've held on to in my life and an incredible teaching to go along with it. I'm so blown away each week! Thank you.

He And Me + 3 said...

Laurie Ann,

First, Beautiful picture and verse. Gorgeous! Second, I am so glad that in the valleys and on the mountain tops...I know that I am never alone. He is always there with me. Great post!

Jen said...

Such a great post. Thank you for breaking it down in such a great manner. Have a great week.

Amydeanne said...

i love it! what a great job of taking it apart. i love learning the hebrew with it as well!

Tracy said...

Love this image and it's accompanying devotional message. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Hope you and your family have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving.


Patty Wysong said...

Laurie Ann, I thought about using this verse, too! It's such a comforting verse! Thank you for digging into it like you did--it's added more depth to it for me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Debra said...

Laurie Ann,

One of my favorite verses...loved the photo too!

I hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving, my sweet friend!

((hugs)) to you!

Peggy said...

Blessed teacher Laurie Ann...I'm so thankful for you & your continuation of illustrating Psalm 23...with such a precious Lamb of God...Jesus...and the one in the photo...I don't know how you have such precious photos for each verse, but this one again is perfect!

How beautifully worded & wonderful reminder you have given most favorite today...
"others are watching to see how we endure our trials. They are watching to see how we receive comfort and need to know that we are relying on our Great Shepherd, our Comforter, who is there with His rod and His staff, directing our every step."

May I always be mindful of this!
And what a awesome message & teaching at this season of the year!

When death comes into my life & the loss of the presence of a loved ones, I have not dealt well with it, but at the moment...God holds me together, it is the afterwards when no one is around that I fall apart. I rejoice when I look at their death as an entrance into their heavenly home, but my emotional level takes me to depression in their absence...and not grieving well. At the moment of the shadow of death, God's Holy Comforter enables me to do readings from His Word or even eulogies... not yet been able to sing but each death, I think I have done better.
Others usually comment on how well I hold it it's after when I'm alone, I fall apart! I do thank God endlessly for walking me thru these valleys with His love & mercy...guiding me & restoring my trust & peace. Thank you for sharing this!

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe..." Hebrews 12:28

Enjoy WFW as well as a bountiful day of giving thanks! God is so good! Though I do not have an official Thanksgiving Day here in Mexico, I still will honor & give praise & thanks for ALL & friends like you! God bless & give you His bountiful favor!

Sue said...

Wow! What wonderful picture, verse, and commentary! I love the way you dug deep and discussed the meanings of the words.

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I have only gotten the first column of blogs looked at so far. I emailed you about your offer to help me get the button on my blog. Yours is beautiful, by the way!

Thanksgiving Blessings,

Mariposa said...


"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.", this had carried me through in more ways than one!

Speaking from the Heart said...

I love this verse. This is one of the first verses I memorized as a young believer. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tricia said...

Laurie Ann
What a timely post for me to come upon... I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death, the physical death of a loved one, and the death of a relationship until a loved one can turn away from the road of sin she has taken (she thinks this sin is God's will for her life, which makes it so very hard to deal with)...

Thank you for reminding me of the gentle guidance and the comfort of my Shepherd during this time, and more importantly that I need to allow others to see and know where I am drawing my comfort and strength from, from God alone!

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!


Anonymous said...

Lovely verse and photo. Happy Thanksgiving!

God Chaser said...

Happy Thanksgiving-thanks for sharing today.

Debbie said...

Thank you for this reminder of how our Shepherd walks with us through these valleys. I am so thankful for that. Yes, I've gone through many valleys including infertility, divorce and much stress. But He is sufficient for all my needs. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.