Psalms of Comfort - Psalm 23
March 19, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Throughout the centuries, followers of God and Christ have looked to the Psalms for comfort and guidance in the midst of trials. Some Psalms have come to be dearly loved and memorized. These Psalms direct our attention to the rock-solid character of God and his promises. Each week we’ll reflect on one of these Psalms, training our hearts to trust in the Lord more and more.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (ESV)
Perhaps no psalm is more loved and well-known than Psalm 23. The beautiful, intimate imagery of God’s shepherding of his people has sustained many through uncertain times. The promise of God’s presence through the valley of the shadow of death assures us that nothing, even death, can separate us from God. Then the closing line, goodness and mercy pursuing me, emphasizes God’s tenacious, covenantal faithfulness to his people.
To draw out principles from poetry almost is a crime. The power of poetry is that it captures our imaginations and sways our hearts with majestic imagery. David, however, when he was writing this psalm, would have had concrete truths about God on his mind that he was seeking to celebrate. The poetry of the psalms is worship of God in his character and activity.
So, what does David celebrate in Psalm 23?
- The intimate and faithful provision of God. A shepherd had no choice but to be intimate with his sheep. He stayed with them day and night. He would keep count of each sheep. He ensured every sheep was fed and healthy. Sheep would get lost and die without the constant protection of the shepherd. When David pondered how to communicate his relationship with God, he could think of no better analogy than a shepherd.
- The protection of God. David does not teach that belief in God will keep one from all harm. No, he still walked through the valley of the shadow of death, as you and I do on a regular basis. The promise of verse 4 is that God protects his people from evil, evil that has eternal implications. Fear is overcome when all that is most precious to us is the most secure. David clings to this hope in God.
- The Experience of Abundant Grace. A well-prepared table. An overflowing cup. Goodness and mercy all the days of my life. These all illustrate that David’s relationship with God was marked by the abundance of God’s grace. Is that your experience with God? It can be as you rest in his faithful care.