Who doesn’t like Psalm 23? I would say that it is one of the most oft quoted Psalms in church, at funerals and we even like to quote it to ourselves a lot. To some it’s a form of comfort, because of tradition. To others it’s something that is said out of rote practice that may or may not mean anything to whomever is reciting it. I remember watching Doc several years ago, and he was reading out of a small book entitled “A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23”. It was a very good book, and I highly recommend picking it up. But you don’t need a book to dissect the following, just think about and consider what David was saying.
During this time of turmoil in the world, we need to keep centered on who is the shepherd in our lives; the one that leads and directs us. So the focus of this article is one of reflection and hope. If I accomplish one thing, I pray that it is seeing that the One that called everything from nothing and set the stars in the heavens is the one that is in control.
So turn in your Bibles to Psalms chapter 23.
Psalm 23 (NASB)
The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
3He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
“The Lord is my shepherd.” Now who is the shepherd of your life? The word means to tend a flock: i.e. pasture it. Who pastures your life? If you answered your friends, family, wife or your wallet, you are wrong. Who’s the one you look to for protection and guidance? The answer should be “our Lord” to all of the above. I get that it is hard to let Him take over; it’s hard to let go, but we’ve got to.
“I shall not want.”Want, to lack; by implication, to fail. I shall not lack or fail, but it’s only if the Lord is your shepherd. I really wonder sometimes if we really believe the stuff we profess. With just these first two lines you are forced to make a choice and to take a stand of faith. I mean, do we believe this stuff or not?!? Does God mean what he says?
“I SHALL NOT WANT!” I’ve been wanting for years and not got anything, that’s why I don’t believe in God or go to church.
I’ve heard and read things by people like this, and I want to say, “Is He the God of your life?” Are you hanging your body on His promise or is it just rolling off your tongue? Do you really take the Bible seriously, or are you just reciting it because it came in some prayer box for a five dollar love offering from a preacher with the latest prosperity and feel good message.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to have to make a choice. Either God is who He says He is, and you hang your body on His promises, or you might as well quit. I said it in my previous article and I mean it. I am tired of milquetoast Christianity. You know the type of people I’m talking about. I’m a Christian when things are good, but woe is me when the going gets tough… GOD, HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING TO ME? Boo Hoo! When is the last time you were tortured or beat up for your faith? Most of our biggest concerns are whether to wear the yellow shirt or blue shirt to Church. You need to hop your happy selves to a computer and look at Christians in the Mid-East and China. Our brothers and sisters are beaten and killed for their faith, while we sit in cushy pews or chairs and complain about the song choices for the day. I say we have it pretty easy.
“He makes me” and “leads me;”the Psalm says. Leads and makes me lie down in places of goodness. He takes care of us. The apostle Paul introduces himself as a bond slave of Christ. Paul had acknowledged who was over his life. A slave has no choice in what he does or where he goes. His life is not his own, it belongs to his master. But with God, He’s not only our “master”, He is also our Father. He promised to take care of us, and Numbers (23:19) tells us that God is not a man to lie, will He not do what He says? What’s wrong with us? I just keep coming back to the question, “Do we actually believe this?”
“He restores my soul” and “guides me in the paths of righteousness.”Praise God, He does, because my soul needs restored, sometimes and often. And heaven knows I need led down those paths. Paul says it best, when I do good it’s all Him. You don’t have an ounce of good in you that doesn’t come from God, and don’t think otherwise. You’re a rat, I’m a rat, we were born rats and if it wasn’t for being born again with that life changing power of Christ in us, then we would not be in as good a shape as we are in today. You’re a sinner because that is what you are. That’s your fleshly existence. Your flesh and His life changing force in you are at war. And every time you slip and fall, as we all do, it is that fleshly side seeking to get a foothold. Trench warfare is the Greek idea that Paul uses. There are two sides here contending for you, a fleshly side and a life giving spirit component that are fighting to gain control. But ours is a power that can overcome the flesh via Christ Jesus. That power is something that is a free gift from Christ that cannot be earned, bargained for and/or bought. The minute you think for a second that you can do any of those three things you are fallen from grace and are on a path leading to hell.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”We are at war. Paul says, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places.” Jesus says to Peter, “Satan desires to have you Peter, to sift you like wheat.” Do you not understand that there is a being out there, Lucifer, Satan, morning star, son of the dawn, that desires to cut you off from God and Christ? Read the New Testament. Neither Christ nor the apostles could go anywhere without encountering a demonic presence wrecking some type of havoc. Of course the modern frame of thought is that they were just “mentally ill.” Horse spit! That’s not what the scriptures say. Christ would have been more than capable of saying that this person had some type of mental sickness. He didn’t. You are in a war friend. Satan and the beings that sided with him desire to destroy you. Most modern day church people don’t like to hear that. I often wonder if a majority of churchgoers really believe in Satan and demons.
Regardless of what we face, our promise is that we are protected and should fear no evil. God’s got a ‘big stick’ that is going to not only lead us down the right paths, but will also protect you. You should read about what shepherds carry with them to protect their flock. Not only did they have to keep track of their sheep, but they also had to protect them from wild animals. Our shepherd is the Most High. That in itself should keep us from feeling fear. When are we going to start believing what the Bible says?
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…”We want all the enemies taken out before we relax. You’ve heard these complainers.
“I can’t stand so and so. I won’t rest until he or she is gone!”
Well, then don’t rest. The promise isn’t that all your enemies will be gone before you are successful or safe. God says I’ll provide for you and bless you, but it’ll be in the presence of your enemies. Look at Israel. Watch some news, or head to your computers and look at what this little nation of Israel is and has had to endure. Surrounded on all sides with hostile groups, they have had to fight every step of the way.
“You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.”That nation has literally made the desert bloom. And you say God does not keep His word. How much more proof do you need before you start ‘faithing’ in God and hanging yourself on His promises? He’s been submitting Himself and giving demonstrations of His power and His faithfulness to His promises for thousands of years. It should make us both ashamed and thankful that He still puts up with ‘spiritual hard heads’ like us. God is going to bless you and take care of you, but it will be His way in His time.
“Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”Good things, kindness, faithfulness and benefits, will be our portion as a people whose shepherd is the Lord. God also says that “He will hasten His word to perform it.” So you camp out on a promise and your faith reaches up and connects with His. That’s what God is after; someone to trust Him. All those people in the New Testament that were healed by Jesus… His answer was “your faith has made you whole.”
Where is your faith placed? Is it in the man whose hand stilled the waters and calmed the storms? Or are you still fighting with Him; trying to do it your way, all by yourself?
Grace and Peace as always,
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