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The shadow of death
Pastor Jon Enter
by Pastor Jon Enter
July 27, 2023

Every funeral I’ve attended has included Psalm 23. This psalm pours on comfort with its opening words: “The Lord is my Shepherd” (verse 1). The Lord with all capital letters is a special name for God, revealing the abundance of his mercy. God then ties his unstoppable, unending grace to the picture of a shepherd constantly there for his sheep. The hearts of the hurting at funerals relax in the comfort of this grace. 

But then verse 4 sucker punches everyone in the heart: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (ESV). Death. It becomes the focus. How could it not at a funeral? But death is NOT the focus of this sentence grammatically or spiritually. “Of death.” The word death is in a prepositional phrase, so it’s not the focus. God calls death nothing but a shadow! A shadow can’t hurt you. A shadow has no substance. It can scare you if you let it, but it can’t hurt you. Death is a shadow for you, for those who believe Jesus destroyed the power of death.

Make no mistake. The devil is a prowling lion who’s looking for someone to devour; he’s looking for you. Let him roar. Let him growl. His roar is empty. It’s powerless. Why? Jesus’ tomb was empty on Easter Sunday, giving power to these words: “Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord when I open your graves and bring you up from them” (Ezekiel 37:13). Death cannot hold you!

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