I want to talk about something that I think most of us have become numb to, and have neglected to apply its richness to our lives… Psalm 23.
Psalm 23 is a weapon. It is a clear statement of who we are in God.
Many of us have grown up reading it as comfort in tough times, and though it is that, it is also so very much more. I that that it’s probably true that many of us have read this or heard it so many times, that we simply glaze over it… knowing it like the back of our hands.
But our beloved David was declaring who he was, and is in God.
Until recently, I had not thought too far into this passage. So let’s dive in.
“God is my shepherd…” I’m not in charge. I do not lead. Nothing in my life is a coincidence. If it comes my way, it is because the shepherd has allowed it to do so.
If you take in this mentality, and let the Father truly reveal this to you, it will change your whole life.
“I shall not want…” Some translations say, “I have no lack.” I don’t know very many folk who have truly allowed themselves to enter so deeply into the Father’s rest and trust, that they can say this as present tense. But I do see it, and know that it is true.
This thought goes against just about everything in our nature. We struggle and strive to provide for ourselves, but what He brings is always best. I’ve seen it over and over in my own life. His way is always best. My way always leads outside of the fold and into the hands of another who devours and destroys.
I will learn to say with confidence, “I SHALL NOT WANT!”
“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul…” This is the first half of one of the most amazing pictures of what the real Sabbath rest looks like.
There truly is a place of peace and calm for us. It’s not imaginary, it’s for real. It is the very presence of God. In Psalm 16 David says that in God’s presence is the fullness of joy, and in His right hand are pleasures forever.
In the Father, we are always near quiet waters and green pastures, because He will always provide us with what we need. Remember… “I shall not want!”
“He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake…”
What a thought. He doesn’t just guide me in these paths for my sake, but for the sake of all men. That’s what this is about. As we trust and follow and let this shepherd guide us along, others will see, and glorify God. They will know His name by the Father leading us.
Right here, David is saying tat his life, as well as yours and mine are being guided that the world may know God.
Now, before we move on to the next part, I want to overcome a mental barrier. This part is not divided from the first. They are one and the same. The same things all happening at once.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me…”
It is declaration and prayer all at once. He’s telling himself, in his own trembling, “I will not fear! This is the same God that leads me to quiet waters. I will drink from them in this valley.”
“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Feel the Father’s rod by your side. Yes, it is Him guiding you through this valley. Remember, He is the shepherd, and knows the path that is best. He is leading you here, and He will lead you out. You will not lack.
“You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
This same shepherd that leads us beside the quiet waters and into green pastures is not only leading you to a table with your enemies, but He is preparing that table. He is leading you down the path of righteousness so that the world can see that He is God; so that He can draw all of His children back to Him and into His loving arms.
Part of that process, is you sitting at a table and dining with those you most likely don’t want to dine with. And He fills your cup to overflowing. Why? So that you can pour it out on these people He has lead you to.
Lean into this, and yield to this shepherd’s leading, and you’ll find those quiet waters all the more. You’ll find your cup overflowing, and you’ll have no fear. You’ll have ample riches to give to all around you.
“Sure goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” another translation says, “…surely goodness and mercy will pursue me…”
I like that. They’re coming after me; following me, teaching me…
This leading through the shadows, the valleys, through death itself, all ends in dwelling in the house of the Lord, forever! How wonderful.