What does Psalm 23:4 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: 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.
NASB: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
CSB: Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.
NLT: Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
KJV: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
NKJV: Yea, 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.
Verse Commentary:
David could walk through a dark ravine, perhaps even death, fearlessly, because the Lord walked with him. David explains his lack of fear because "you are with me." It is interesting to observe that the "shadow of death" drew David closer to the Lord. He addresses the Lord as "you," whereas in the peaceful places he called the Lord "he."

A shepherd in Bible times carried a rod and a staff to protect his sheep. The rod was a cudgel: a short, thick, heavy stick similar to what modern people might call a baton or mace. This was worn at the shepherd's belt. The staff was a long, lightweight pole with a curved end—a crook—that the shepherd used to move, count, and examine the sheep at evening when they returned to the fold.

Both the rod and staff were used as weapons to protect the sheep. David trusted the Lord to protect him, just as a shepherd protected his sheep from any attacking animals. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is with believers at all times (John 10:11, 14). He promised to be with us always (Matthew 28:20). He is with us when we walk over rough ground as surely as He is with us "beside still waters" (Psalm 23:2). Jesus said, "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28).
Verse Context:
Psalm 23:4–6 shifts in mood from the tranquility portrayed in verses 1–3. It is a somber passage, but carries the assurance that the Lord protects His sheep and fills their days with His blessings. This passage differs from the first three verses by addressing the Lord, David's shepherd, directly. In verses 1–3 David talks about the Lord, but in verses 4–6 he talks to the Lord.
Chapter Summary:
David celebrates the protection and guidance of God. Sheep guarded by a skilled shepherd are led to food and water, and protected from harm. In the same way, David praises God for giving him peace. The knowledge of God's protection and provision are a great comfort. This psalm incorporates themes of supply, defense, assurance, and care from God.
Chapter Context:
This psalm lies between Psalm 22, which depicts Jesus as suffering, and Psalm 24 which depicts Him as sovereign. Psalm 23 depicts Christ as the all-sufficient shepherd. The psalms together focus on the shepherd's cross, his crook, and his crown. In John 10, Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd, echoing many of the themes explored in this passage.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
Accessed 6/13/2024 8:58:53 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com