Through the Valley

A while back, The Last of Us II was announced. In the video, Ellie sang Shawn James’ “Through the Valley,” which has these lyrics:

I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
And I’ll fear no evil because I’m blind to it all
And my mind and my gun they comfort me
Because I know I’ll kill my enemies when they come

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life
And I will dwell on this earth forevermore
Still I walk beside the still waters and they restore my soul
But I can’t walk on the path of the right because I’m wrong

Well I came upon a man at the top of a hill
Called himself the savior of the human race
Said he come to save the world from destruction and pain
But I said how can you save the world from itself

‘Cause I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
And I’ll fear no evil ’cause I’m blind
And I walk beside the still waters and they restore my soul
But I know when I die my soul is damned

 

The first stanza leads me to believe that it is about an average man just trying to get by. Not seeing right, not seeing wrong. He is ‘blind to it all.’ Most notably is the biblical reference the song is based on, “and I’ll fear no evil because I’m blind to it all
And my mind and my gun they comfort me.” The original verse is Psalms 23:4 “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,” which certainly isn’t what was in the song. Rather than relying on a higher power, the character in the song relies on himself and his own weapons. He is completely alone.

In the second stanza, James includes multiple other biblical references. “Still I walk beside the still waters and they restore my soul,” alludes to Psalms 23:2, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters,” and Psalms 23:3, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Another line that is almost ripped straight from the bible is “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,” which is twisted from Psalms 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

The man at the top of the hill who claims to be the savior of humanity is obviously meant to parallel Jesus Christ, who was crucified on Calvary/Golgatha, a hill near Mount Zion. This man doubts the higher power of God, only trusting ‘(his) mind and (his) gun.’ He trusts no one buy himself to lead him to still waters, to green pastures. He is alone in his loneliness.

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