“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
What a wonderful outlook David had with the Lord as his shepherd. Each of the two sections of this final verse is loaded with optimism:
1) God’s goodness and mercy will follow me every day that I live. How good is God? Even though I am bad, His mercy follows my every step. And this will continue up to the last moment of our lives. These great characteristics of our Great God follow a believer like a shadow, influencing our every step. If I live a long life I’ll be blessed every day.
2) And when I breathe my last down here, I will then dwell in the house of the Lord for all eternity. If my life is cut short, I’ll be blessed forever. I win if I stay, and I win if I leave. With this great hope in our hearts, how can we fear and how can we worry? That is the assurance that carries us onward toward God daily giving us hope.
Like Allstate Insurance, you’re in good hands!
Tags: death, security, winning
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over” (Psalm 23:5).
David is still reviewing what the shepherd has done in his life. In this verse he recounts three of those benefits:
1) God preparing a table for him refers to the great provision God gives. And he notes that God pours out these blessings in the face of his enemies. This is a great testimony of God’s favor in his life, and an encouragement that we can expect the same treatment from our Chief Shepherd.
2) In Bible times kings and prophets were anointed with oil; not a dab on their foreheads, but running from the tops of their heads and dripping off their beards. The anointing referred to God’s hand upon their lives. David is declaring that he recognizes the Lord’s hand in his life.
3) Using another word picture, it was a common analogy to refer to the culmination of life’s blessings being a cup. David says, “My cup runs over”, it is so full of God’s blessings.
What a rich way to look back at a person’s life! What word picture would you use for God’s blessings in your life?
Tags: blessings, provision
“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” (Psalm 23:4).
In this verse David moves into another word picture, walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Both ‘valley’ and ‘shadow’ are referring to emotions we feel at troubled times in our lives. We’ve all been through that valley and out on the other side. Fortunately, on the other side of every valley is a another mountain top. We don’t dare get stuck in the valley as some people do. I remember an aged lady in Betz’s Nursing Home whose husband had divorced her years ago. She still talks bitterly about it. She is stuck in the valley. David reminds himself (and us) that no matter how dark it gets in that valley, he doesn’t have to fear evil, because God is with him.
The other element that carries him through the valley is that the Shepherd’s rod and staff comfort him in the journey. The rod and staff were the two purposes of the shepherd’s staff that the Good Shepherd used in caring for the sheep. The crooked end of the staff was used for rescuing sheep which might fall over a precipice. The rod was the disciplinary use of the staff when a lamb became a stinker. Both of these were there to give comfort to David.
When was the last time you considered the Lord’s chastening a comfort to you?
Tags: comfort, darkness, discipline, shadow, valley
“He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).
Now David begins to wander from the imagery of the shepherd/sheep and moves into the God/follower dimension a bit. First, he says that the Shepherd restores his soul. How do you restore a soul? In DeKalb County, when we talk of restoring something its usually an old car, truck, or tractor. But, how do you restore a broken heart or damaged soul? There is no answer to that and people spend millions annually on psychotherapy and drugs in a vain attempt to fix what’s broken within us. But David says the Shepherd does that for free.
Secondly, he tells us that the Shepherd leads us down paths of righteousness. What are those paths? Those are the paths that lead us to God’s blessings versus the path that leads us heartbroken. God has a right way and a wrong way. Often those ways are obsure to us humans, but the after affect in our lives is inevitable. We need the Shepherd to lead us down the right(eous) paths.
How have you learned this lesson through life’s experiences?
Tags: leading, PSALM 23, restoration
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2)
The author, David, continues the word picture here in verse 2. The shepherd sets things up in our lives so we can “lie down in green pastures”. Sheep are forever grazing and searching for greener pastures. If I were a sheep, I would much rather eat green grass than brown grass from a bale. Sheep never stop grazing until they’re full. In other words, the Shepherd will lead me to where I will be so full I just want to lie down and rest. What a picture of God’s abundant blessings in our lives.
He also leads us to where the water is still. They tell me sheep don’t like to drink running water. It reminds me of me. I don’t like turbulence in my life. I like things calm and peaceful. The Psalm is teaching us that Jesus (the Shepherd) takes us down the path of peace and calm. That’s what I’m looking for. The Hebrew word here translated “leads” actually means, “tugs” or “pulls”. He puts gentle pressure on us to walk down that peace path.
How has the Shepherd put gentle pressure on you to find His peace?
Tags: peace, Shepherd
This week I want us to look at the 23d Psalm, one verse per day: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).
David is giving us a word picture. He is discribing a Christian’s relationship with God. The Lord is the shepherd, meaning He watches over me, protects me, feeds me, and cares for me. Because I have a shepherd, I am never in want.
If you have made Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior, He is also the shepherd of your life. Whether you realize it or not, He is guiding your steps and leading you to where He wants you to be. And sometimes He leads us through dark and barren places as the shortest path to the ultimate destination he intends for us.
This all requires faith. Faith to trust that He really is watching over us and guiding us. Faith that He knows the way when we don’t. Faith that he will not let the wolves attack us while we’re in the wilderness. This opening verse is a powerful statement of faith in God, if you think about it. Let’s all commit this verse to memory today, and say it aloud often.
A letter written in a childish scrawl came to the post office addressed to “God”. A postal employee, not knowing exactly what to do with the letter, opened it and read: “Dear God, My name is Jimmy. I am six years old. My father is dead and my mother is having a hard time raising me and my sister. Would you please send us $500?”
The postal employee was touched. He showed the letter to his fellow workers and all decided to kick in a few dollars each and send it to the family. They were able to raise $300.
A couple of weeks later, they received a second letter. The boy thanked God, but ended with this request: “Next time would you please deliver the money directly to our home? If you send it through the post office, they deduct $200.”
Rather than chuckling over the boy’s misunderstanding, let’s admire his faith. Would we have responded in confidence like that boy?
Tags: Caring, faith, prayer