Thoughts on the 23rd Psalm

Photo credit: Debra Scowden © 2017

Last October I wrote a blog post on Psalm 24.  I was in a difficult and challenging season.  I reflected on my life and was reminded that God is in control, not me.

A year and some months later I sit to write once again.  But this time on Psalm 23. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” (verse 1)  I want to read this verse over and over again.  To have it sink deep into my heart and mind.  I hope as you read God’s words, and mine, you will know how precious you are to God, and how powerful you are with God as you Shepherd.

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Since the beginning of July I have been on an uncomfortable and arduous journey.  I have spent much of this time in a dark and lonely valley.  Struggling to find some hope and light.  Then I found hope in a Bible study that focuses on healing and understanding by using the 23rd Psalm.

I know my valley journey is not yet over. I will have more dark days.  However, God’s words in this Psalm bring me such wonderful hope.  So friends whatever you may be going through today, have gone through in the past, or may go through in the future, my prayer for you is that you would find hope and peace in God’s Holy Word.  That the Lord’s joy, which has nothing to do with our feelings, but with our faith and trust in Him, be found in you, and that the world would see His bright light shining within you.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

The first and foremost step in my healing has been acknowledging and knowing, without a doubt, that the Lord is MY shepherd.  God created me, and knows every single day of my life.  He knows the decisions I’ve made and will make without praying about it first.  And still He’s with me.  With this knowledge I truly have everything I would ever want.  Jesus loves me with an everlasting love.  Unlike man, who loves with a limited capacity, Jesus loves me, with all my sins, imperfections and faults.  Jesus loves me because He created me.  So I can move forward because I know I am deeply loved by my Shepherd.  God knows exactly what I need, and when I need it.  My part is to fully trust in Him.  I can tell you this is not always easy.  But in faith I will let Him lead me.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” Psalm 23:2

The word picture in verse two is God’s desire for me to find rest.  Green pastures, beside still waters, is a picture of the peace I have available to me with Jesus.  It makes me think of taking a hike somewhere.  I would have climbed up some pretty steep mountains.  My body is sore and tired.  I feel as if I couldn’t take another step.  Then through a clearing I see a green pasture. It welcomes me like a cozy bed.  I lie down, exhausted from the hike.  As my head rests on the grass I begin to feel the aching and soreness dissipate.  My mind begins to clear, and I am beginning to feel rested.  Peace washes over me.

I sit up to find I am also lying beside still waters.  This hiking area would lead me to think I’d find a raging river.  Yet, I am not.  The still waters begin to calm me in a way I’ve never experienced before.  God is with me, peace fills my mind and heart.  He has provided all that I needed at the moment I needed it.  God’s amazing grace, how sweet the sound, found in a quiet meadow beside still waters.

“He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:3

This time on the green pastures and by the still waters has restored my soul.  Actually, my soul feels renewed.  I am a new creation.  The old is gone.

“He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3

No matter my circumstance, when I put my trust in the Lord, He will lead me.  The paths God wants me to travel will be narrow.  Not many others are on this path, but this path is where my Shepherd will direct me in righteousness for his name’s sake.  It is a path less travelled, to be sure.  But I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;” Psalm 23:4

This journey I am on is in the valley of the shadow of death.  It is the death of a dream, of a marriage, and of so much more.  This valley has caused me to cry many tears these past months.  But instead of lying on the floor crying, I have decided to look up and take God’s outstretched hand.  He gently tells me, “I have you.  Trust more, fear less, because you are with Me.”  So I get up and begin to trust Him more and fear less.

“your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4

A shepherd uses a rod and staff to manage his flock.  Keeping them from danger, and insuring they arrive safely to their destination (home).  The Lord is my shepherd, he lovingly prods me to stay on that safe and narrow path.  God’s heart is for his entire flock, all of mankind, to make it safely home to heaven.  We only have to put our trust in Jesus, our Shepherd.  He will comfort us, love us and cares for us, and bring us safely home. “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;” Psalm 23:5

I like the picture of a table being set before me.  As we are in the Christmas season, setting a fancy table is something I enjoy doing.  I can imagine how magnificent the Lord’s table setting must be.  The best of everything, no expense spared, no detail too small.  And to think He does that for you and me, right in front of our enemies.  You and I are that important to the Creator of the heavens and the earth.

“You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

In old testament days the anointing of oil on the head was a mark of respect sometimes paid by a host to his guests.  Just imagine…here you and I sit at God’s beautifully set banquet table, and He is anointing us.  This means He is showing us respect.  God Almighty is serving you and me.  Its unbelievable to think that One so great and powerful would do this.  This word picture truly makes my cup overflow.  I could not want anything more.  I struggle with believing I am worthy of such respect.  And yet He doesn’t hesitate in anointing my head.  These words tell me that I am respected, I am worthy, I am valued, I am loved.

“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

God’s gives us goodness and mercy, and says they will always be in our lives.  We simply need to make the decision to follow Jesus, and then this beautiful promise is ours.  If thats not enough he adds that we will dwell, live with, be in the presence of the Lord, Jesus Christ, forever and ever, in His magnificent house.

There is nothing more comforting or encouraging than knowing that God delights in us, and holds us in the highest esteem. 3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  God takes great joy in knowing we are walking in His truth.

“This God – his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take require in him.” Psalm 18:30

In life we travel many a road,
Each one brings us someplace new.
Every day give Jesus your full load,
He’ll faithfully carry you through.

Take hold of His mighty hand,
Through the valley filled with fear.
Trust in His strength, and stand
Firm in the truth, and evil will disappear.

He’s set us a place at a banquet,
Before all our enemies.
His loving-kindness like a blanket,
Protects us through centuries.

His word is filled with promises.
God’s goodness and mercy’s with me.
This news is so very positive,
Let’s share, so the world will see.

In faith and trust let us believe,
The truth, Jesus is God’s precious Son.
His scarlet thread has been weaved,
And its power cannot be undone.

On the roads that this life may lead,
May we take hold of God’s holy word.
Let it choke out the enemies weeds,
And heavenly hope is deeply stirred.

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