“The LORD is my Shepherd: I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” –Psalm 23
This is such a familiar psalm… so familiar that we easily pass over it in our reading. “Oh, I have read that one so often…” But what it tells us is so important for our day-to-day lives whether we have a virus nipping at our heels or just life in general. Read it again slowly.
The LORD, Yahweh, the Creator; who is timeless, omnipotent, covenantal… is our Shepherd…my Shepherd, your Shepherd…as David says. And because of that we shall have no wants. No wants, that is, of the things that matter in this life. Look at how Jesus confirms this, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matt. 6:25-27.
By His presence and unconditional love we are able to lie down in green pastures, not just any pastures but green pastures, abundant with “good” grass. These pastures are wide open so that we can be well-fed and know we are protected by our Shepherd. He has led us to these pastures because He is the Way. No one else can lead the way as He leads.
“He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Think of those babbling brooks in the forests you have camped beside in the past and how quieting they are when you close your eyes and just listen…the sound is so restive and restorative…but it is more than the sound that comforts and gives rest it is also the life-giving, pure and cool water that preserves us from being parched and lethargic…it is His presence which He has promised us always. Because we are His, He already has and continuously restores our soul as He leads us in paths of righteousness…that is His promise… a promise made on His Own Name…so, in other words, a promise that can never be broken.
Then, even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…the dark days and nights of this life… He is there! He has promised it and He always has been there even through the toughest of times. If someone asked us the question; “Does your God love you?” we can say unequivocally – YES!! For He has delivered us, rescued us, leads us, sparing not even His Son to a cross for us… and by thanking Him, we realize we shall not want for anything that we would need to fulfill our purpose.
This goes for the darker side of life as well when we are “unsure” if God is with us. “If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as day, for darkness is light to you.” Psalm 139:11-12. Since God has ordained the darkness it is His as well. But from His perspective ALL is light. From our perspective… with our eyes and hearts cast low in worry and fear it is just darkness. He has ordained whatsoever comes to pass and we can take comfort in that knowledge even though there are times when it is too much for us.
Because of His unconditional love, we have nothing to fear …we forget that and He reminds us…over and over again. But we fear because we are uncertain there is such a thing as unconditional love, because it is not what we see or experience in this world. But then the world is deceptive…on purpose. He tells us that He will walk ahead and through everything with us like a Good Shepherd who knows that when we are afraid we can get lost. He stays with us. And by His presence, we are comforted.
But He goes further! He prepares a victory banquet in front of His enemies! This victory is over sin and death and because of His work, we can celebrate that victory won by Christ — in FULL VIEW of this enemy.
One last thing…He has even gone further…in anointing us, He has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to experience His blessing to the point that on the good days our cup overflows and we can say with absolute confidence, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
So I am praying for y’all today and each day to consider these things and walk accordingly!
In His Grip,