What is the Shadow of Death?

Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron (Ps. 107:10 KJV)

The shadow of death showing two men with shadows

The Psalmist was recounting the experience of the Jews who were in great distress and agony in the land of those who had taken them captive. He says “such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” He uses “darkness” and “shadow of death” to describe their state. In this verse, he was not referring to two separate states—the darkness and shadow of death are synonymous here, referring to the same thing.

Think for a moment what a shadow is. It is the dark area that is produced by another object that stands on the way of light. Now imagine death( spiritual death) is that object and has a shadow called “the shadow of death”. This shadow of death is what is called darkness in this verse.

These are figurative terms used to describe spiritual states to us. Darkness is the experience of death. When death is at work, that is, casting its shadow, it produces an experience called darkness. It gives us one of the experiences of darkness in the verse above, “being bound in affliction and iron”. That describes the bondage, suffering, anguish, and agony that death brings. Death represents the totality of our experiences outside of God. It describes sin, shame, fear, depression, anxieties, sicknesses, failures, weaknesses, etc. Remember that these things only came into the world after man fell into sin. When sin came,  death followed.

God’s Word is your only escape from death. Walking in the Word brings the experience of life, that is light, and disobedience without fail will bring us under the shadow of death, just as the Jews who had rebelled against the Word of the Lord (Ps. 107:11).


Declare that  “I am walking in the light of life every single day.”


Walking in the Word will lead to the light of life, and rebellion against the Word will bring us under the shadow of death. Stay in the Word, walk in the Spirit and spare yourself the agonies of the life of darkness. We must not deceive ourselves at any time in living contrary to the Word of God and expecting to escape death and experience the light of life.


Ask the Lord to help conduct your life according to the light of the Word. 

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