23

I was listening to a sermon online a couple of months ago, and the pastor read Psalm 23 as part of the message. It really stuck with me. And it wasn’t so much that he read it, but the way he read it. The message was about complaining and negativity, and the psalm was read with much passion and conviction, almost like the pastor was speaking in italics the entire time. Very affecting.

He spoke about David, too. From 1 Samuel 17: 34-37, leading up to David’s encounter with Goliath:

34But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, 35I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them,(AJ) for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37And David said,(AK) “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go,(AL) and the LORD be with you!”

He faced lions and bears in the pursuit of a lost lamb, and he killed them.

Because he had the faith that the Lord’s protection brings. All kinds of people wanted to kill David during his time, as well.

And yet we have this:

Psalm 23 (ESV)
The LORD Is My 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 still waters.
3He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4Even 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.
5You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

We are assured of the same truth as David, and the same deliverance is available to us. Yet we complain at every opportunity. We bemoan our lots, and we think thoughts like “why bother, it will never happen for me. God doesn’t care about me. God doesn’t think about me.”

Look at David’s words again, and think of them in the context of war, or fear, or feeling like your circumstance is beyond your ability to fight.

Think what it would feel like to feel defeat—and the triumph of your enemies—was certain.

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

How often have I thought of these words as little more than poetry, without considering what they really mean?

I shall not want. Why not?

Because the Lord is my shepherd.

The shepherd comes after the wayward sheep. He kills bears, and lions, and pulls us from the mouth of the predator. Yet I worry. I want more from my life, from my job, from my church. I let myself get preoccupied with the things I think are holding me down instead of the the One that is lifting me up.

He restores my soul.

The presence of the carpenter in our hearts restores our soul. David never knew Jesus, but he knew the restoration that the living God can bring to our hearts.

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.

We don’t have to fear the bears and lions of life, because the shepherd is waiting to pull us from the lion’s mouth. We don’t have to worry in the face of our enemies.

He doesn’t prepare a blockade for us in the presence of our enemies. He doesn’t prepare defenses. He prepares a table. A meal.

Why is this so hard to remember? So many times I let fear of failure—or even fear of success—halt a step that could conceivably take me closer to Jesus’ perfect plan for my life.

I fear. I tell myself I can’t do it. That I don’t deserve it. That God never meant me to have the sort of life that can be lived absent of fear, and hopeful of Grace.

It isn’t true, and the promise of scripture tells us that.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity (Jeremiah 29: 11-14 NIV)

I have to remember there is so much more reason to hope than fear.

I have to remember His rod, and his staff.

I have to remember the shepherd.

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Published by

twilk68

God has changed my life, and changed me. It's that simple. I will ever be grateful, and if I live to be...well, OLD, I will never tire of telling people about the work done in my life, and what can be done in theirs, should they trust God with their innermost everything...

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