Daily in the Psalms : Psalm 23
psalms 23THE SHEPHERD AND HIS FLOCK The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 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. Psalms 23:1-4
Here we find the one who had gone from a shepherd boy in the fields and risen to be the mighty king of Israel singing to the Great Shepherd and the King of Kings. This is the voice of one who stood firm in his faith and secure by many victories of a life lived for God. There is no way that an immature Christian could write these powerful words. This is a man that looks back over a long life full of precious memories and great blessings. A life filled with failures and victories. A life filled with tears and laughter. A life filled with weeping and singing. A life filled with bitterness and gratitude.
It would be difficult to find words that would better express to relationship of God and His Children than those pertaining to the shepherd. These words beautifully symbolize the character of God as our provider, protector, Guide, and unfailing companion. There is a special bond between the shepherd and his flock. It is a bond that is tender, loving, and committed. The sheep are subject to great dangers of weather, the rugged terrain, thieves, and wild beasts. The shepherd is ever ready to lay his life on the line to protect and provide for the sheep. There is an even more tender, loving, and committed relationship between the Good Shepherd and His people. The tenderness is unmatched, the love is unfathomable, and the commitment is unlimited. It is an unconditional relationship. The child of God can truly say, “I shall not want,” because the very hand of God rest upon him and he has at his disposal all the resources and supply of Heaven.
The shepherd seeks to lead the sheep to a place of refuge from the hot boiling sun, the baking heat of the desert, and the weariness of the rocky hillside. What a blessing it is to the sheep to finally reach that soft grassy cove, beside the cool brook. Their hunger is satisfied, their thirst is quenched, and their weary feet are rested. There in that save refuge they rest in sweet silence. God seeks such a place for His children. In all the toil and strife of this life, God can and will lead us to a place of quiet and pleasant rest. A place of recovery and a place to remind us of His love and favor. There we find satisfaction for our keenest hunger and our fiercest thirst. The designed result of this place of refuge is to give new strength to the mind and body. God’s rest refreshes and invigorates us and prepares us for our continued journey. As the memories of past troubles seem to fade away, He knows that there are yet more struggles ahead. As we grow sorrowful, He revives us. As we grow sinful, He forgives us. As we grow weak, He strengthens us. As we wonder away, He returns us to the fold. He does all of this for more than our mere happiness; He is preparing us for a higher plain of service, for a richer relationship, and for a greater usefulness. This life is not a bed for us to lie on; it is a road for us to travel. God’s blessings are not for us to waste on our own pleasure, but to fit us and fuel us for the journey toward home. The waters of happiness that God bathes us with are to cleanse us, and refresh us for the labour he has assigned to each of us. Rest prepares us for the work and the work makes us appreciate the rest.
When we have the assurance that God is with us and will protect us, we have no fear of the dark shadows of this life. We will confidently enter the sunless valley knowing that He will lead us to the sunlight on the other side. If our life is filled with such experiences, we will see death as just another shadow that God will see us through. The trusting child of God will enter this gloomy gorge only to pass into the brightness of glory. Thank God for the assurance of the Christian that the hand that guides us into the dark valley will guide us through it and out of it. It may sound strange to those that walk without Him, but we know that the One that sends us into the valley is the best One to help us in the valley. His hand will bind us up, build us up, and make our trials a blessing. He will take to sorrow out of our wounds and make the rod that smites a staff on which to lean. Blessed be the God that supplies, guides, strengthens, relieves, and comforts us. He is truly our Good Shepherd
A ROYAL BANQUET
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 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. Psalms 23:5-6
Just as we saw in the first part of this chapter, here we have the Lord, the gracious Host, and His people at His banqueting table. There is before every child of God, food for our provision and His presence as our protection against the perils of the journey.
Life not only requires work, but it also requires some conflict. Our enemies are numerous, powerful, and cruel. The fight will be fierce, long, and tiring. But in the wilderness of our lonely battle, the good hand of our God will spread before us a table of provision and protection. They may be set on our destruction, but as they see the Lord provide for us, their evil intentions are held back. We are not like the weary soldier on the battlefield that grabs a quick snack when he can and then has to rush back into the battle without being fully nourished and refreshed. We can pause at the banquet table of God for rest and a feast. There is no hurry or confusion there, God will build a wall around His people the come to dine with Him. While we will always have work and conflict in this life, God will make sure that we also have His presence and His provisions.
The culture in David’s time was to anoint with oil during a time of festivals. This indicated that the person was refreshed, prosperous, and joyful. The oil also is a picture of the ever-flowing blessings of God. Ass those blessings flow over us, our joy also overflows. It makes no difference what is going on around us; we can meet with the Lord and have a joyful feast. We can have perfect peace and joy even in the midst of a fierce battle. Our Commander-In-Chief stops and sets a feast before us to assure us that the victory in ahead.
Goodness and mercy are the main course for this banquet. What a blessing to have a continual feast on God’s mercy and longsuffering! We need His goodness to supply our needs and we need His mercy to cover our sins. We have the great confidence that God will walk with us every step of the way. In a life filled with changes, sunshine, dark nights, dangers, sorrows, and joyful victory, we have the presence of the Lord in all of it. As sure as our enemies are pursuing us, so is the grace and joy of our God.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. Psalms 68:19
New expressions of His care and love shine on us every day. His blessings are on every side, behind us and before us. We are blessed along our entire journey. Every child of God is rich with the love and kindness of God. As we feast on His daily provisions, we are able to shout, “We have all this, and Jesus too!”
When we enter the family of God, we inherit the close intimacy with Him and the ceaseless joy of His favor. We can dwell with Him as we walk on this earth and we have the assurance that we will dwell in His presence for all eternity.
One day we will be transformed into His image and translated into His presence. We will see Him high and lifted up, His trail will fill the vast Temple of Glory, His love will be our all-sufficient portion, and we will sing a song of everlasting praise. We may have to pass through some dark valleys in this life, but there is coming a day when our traveling will be over, we will be gathered into His fold, and we will be in that safe place where no harm can ever come. WHAT A DAY THAT WILL BE!
So Glad To Be So Saved
Danny "Preacher" Bezet