THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
It's the loveliest of the Psalms. It's also probably the most famous. Psalm 23. "The Lord is my shepherd..." It is the young Psalmist reminding himself and his readers of God's abiding and comforting presence. It is striking for its profound depth of what a relationship with God looks like. But it is shocking for what it focusses on!
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.Psalm 23:1-2
David wrote this Pslam when he was a young shepherd boy. Alone at night. Isolated by day. In fear of robbers. Prowled by wolves and the occasional lion. When David considered God in his night-time moments of watching his father's sheep, he reminded himself that God was his Shepherd. He must have realised that for the person who knows God, they are never alone. He might have taken great comfort from the knowledge that even in the midst trouble, it wasn't troubled waters that God offered. Rather, it was still waters to still troubled times.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.Psalm 23:3
David tells us that God not only provides for us like a Shepherd, He feeds us and leads us. David tells us that if we make God our Shepherd He can restore our soul. Souls become dry. Souls become wounded. Souls become distracted. Souls can be lost. God restores souls. If you are dry, wounded, distracted or lost, you need your soul restored by the Soul-Restoring Shepherd.
¶ 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.
In David's darkest hour he sought for God. Beyond the scope of the words that he used to begin to describe it, David said that he experienced the Lord's presence as if it were a 'rod' and a 'staff'. Shepherds used these tools to guide or rescue sheep from danger. If you are experiencing God's disciplining - you are experiencing God's Shepherding presence! It is too easy to be confused by this experience as if God has left you - when in fact, He has drawn closer to you!
¶ You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.Psalm 23:5
This skinny, "ruddy" (1Sam. 16:12) little shepherd boy found God to be the One who anoints His children in the presence of those who seek their harm! In fact, David found God to be the One who anointed him when it looked like his enemies were about to triumph. Initially David found this to be true with lions and bears (1Sam 16:26). He then found it to be true with giants. He then found it to be true with spiteful kings. He then found it to be true with enemy kingdoms. He then found it to be true when those who were closest to him betrayed him in the cruelest fashion. In these times, David found that God filled his victory cup. Not half full. Not two-thirds full. Not nearly full. Not even full. God filled David's victory celebration cup to overflowing!
¶ 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 23:6
What an amazing church we are each a part of. Over the past few weeks we have seen people repenting. We have seen people coming to know Christ for the first time. We have seen record attendances. We have seen God's amazing miracle provision for several people. We have seen people supernaturally recovering from sickness, illness and surgeries. We have seen people responding to the Holy Spirit in prayer an fasting. We have seen people turn up to Sunday worship when the Enemy has thrown all he can at them in a desperate attempt to keep them apart. We have seen people in our church called upon by other churches to share their story of how God has worked in their lives. All of this causes me to join in David's song and sing that God has been good to me, good to us. I have enjoyed an unbelievably blessed life. Like David, God's goodness and mercy has followed me all the days of my life. And like David, I am delighted to be committed to His House forever.
But there is something shocking about this beautiful Psalm. Do you see it? Do you see that in nearly every other Bibical statement about our relationship with God, it is just that: "our" relationship with God. Even Jesus taught us to pray, "OurFather...lead us...forgive us...our daily bread..." But Psalm 23 is an individual Psalm. When you feel alone, you are not. When you think there is no one, there is always Someone.
Last Monday night on the Discovery Channel's, Man Versus Wild, Bear was in the wilds of Alabama. As he lay down under a makeshift branch-hut, he looked his audience in the eye through the barrel of the camera and declared, "You may think that I'd feel incredibily lonely out here, doing this. But I'm not. In fact, it's a huge privilege for me to do what I do and because of my Christian faith I know I'm never alone!" I think Bear Grylls must have read Psalm 23.
Father, thank You that You never leave me. Thank You that You never abandon me. Thank You that even in my darkest hour, You feed me and lead me. Thank You that just when I thought You had left me, you prepared a victory table for me and filled my victory cup to over-flowing. I need You. I need to make You known. I want Your Shepherd's touch on my life so that I can live a discipline life. Shepherd my soul. Restore my soul. For Your glory, we pray, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.Ps. Andrew