The Valley Of The Shadow
The 23rd Psalm is one of the most beautiful statements of faith in the Holy Scriptures. It was written by David, the former shepherd of Bethlehem who was appointed King of Israel (see the entire series Israelite Monarchy - The Origin, The Civil War, The United Kingdom, The Division Of Israel, The Northern Kingdom, The Southern Kingdom and The Messiah).
"23:1 A Psalm of David.
"I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me"
The Scriptures do not state when David wrote the 23rd Psalm, or whether his apparent metaphor was also an actual prayer that he spoke while facing grave danger in a specific valley. If David was referring to a specific place and event, there were many that he could have chosen from. One of the earliest was the valley of Elah where David faced the heavily armed and armored giant Goliath - armed with "only" his faith ("17:46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee" 1 Samuel 17:46 KJV) and a rock slinger ("18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress" Psalm 18:2 KJV).
"17:2 And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines ... 17:4 And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span ... 17:48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 17:49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. 17:50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David." (1 Samuel 17:2,4,48-50 KJV)
David knew other valleys with the "shadow of death" after he became king. David's crossing of the Kidron Valley while fleeing a treasonous coup by his own son Absalom was certainly one of them.
"15:23 And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over, toward the way of the wilderness. 15:24 And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God [see also The Mount Sinai Prophecy]: and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city. 15:25 And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me again, and show me both it, and his habitation: 15:26 But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him." (2 Samuel 15:23-26 KJV)
Centuries later, on the night before His Crucifixion, Jesus Christ could well-relate to His physical ancestor's feeling of betrayal and doom as He also crossed the same Kidron Valley to ascend the Mount of Olives.
"18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron [RSV "across the Kidron valley"], where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
Fact Finder: What valley was the object lesson for "hell"?