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Even when I must walk through the darkest valley,[a]
I fear[b] no danger,[c]
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff reassure me.[d]

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Footnotes

  1. Psalm 23:4 tn The Hebrew term צַלְמָוֶת (tsalmavet) has traditionally been understood as a compound noun meaning “shadow of death” (צֵל [tsel] + מָוֶת [mavet]; see BDB 853 s.v. צַלְמָוֶת). Other scholars prefer to vocalize the form צָלְמוּת (tsalmut) and understand it as an abstract noun (from the root צָלַם, tsalam) meaning “darkness.” An examination of the word’s usage favors the latter derivation. It is frequently associated with darkness/night and contrasted with light/morning (see Job 3:5; 10:21-22; 12:22; 24:17; 28:3; 34:22; Ps 107:10, 14; Isa 9:1; Jer 13:16; Amos 5:8). In some cases the darkness described is associated with the realm of death (Job 10:21-22; 38:17), but this is a metaphorical application of the word and does not reflect its inherent meaning. If the word does indeed mean “darkness,” it modifies גַיְא (gayʾ, “valley, ravine”) quite naturally. At the metaphorical level, v. 4 pictures the shepherd taking his sheep through a dark ravine where predators might lurk. The life-threatening situations faced by the psalmist are the underlying reality behind the imagery.
  2. Psalm 23:4 tn The imperfect verbal forms in v. 4, as in vv. 1-3, highlight what is typical in the psalmist’s experience.
  3. Psalm 23:4 tn The Hebrew term רָע (raʿ) is traditionally translated “evil” here, perhaps suggesting a moral or ethical nuance. But at the level of the metaphor, the word means “danger, injury, harm,” as a sheep might experience from a predator. The life-threatening dangers faced by the psalmist, especially the enemies mentioned in v. 5, are the underlying reality.
  4. Psalm 23:4 tn The Piel of נָחַם (nakham), when used with a human object, means “comfort, console.” But here, within the metaphorical framework, it refers to the way in which a shepherd uses his implements to assure the sheep of his presence and calm their nerves. The underlying reality is the emotional stability God provides the psalmist during life threatening situations.

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