“The LORD is my SHEPHERD, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right path for his name sake. EVEN THOUGH I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and mercy and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
A timeless Psalm of David. Words fail to be an adequate descriptor but allow me to try in my own way.
David understood the job of a shepherd – by nature a shepherd is caring, nurturing, protective. This is an excellent descriptive of God. A shepherd protects, a shepherd provides “I lack nothing” … sounds just like God! He places us in green pastures – even in “desert places” (see previous blogs). So here we pause to reflect and ask: how are we ever going to find green pastures if God is not our shepherd?
The chapter goes further to build and inspire you the reader. Green pastures is a place of rest “he makes me lie down”, by definition being found in God is finding rest. It’s a place of Jabbok — a place of surrender (see Genesis 34).
Still further the rest continues to greater levels since He guides us. How peaceful it is when our steps are ordered of the Lord (Psalm 37:23).
The Psalm continues to lift as it explores what God does “even though” — when God becomes our centre, our focus in the middle of ‘even though’ moments, dark nights, troubled times. Consider the parable of the home owner who built his dwelling on the rock (see Matthew 7:24-27).
As you walk through the darkest valleys you are not alone. The prophet Zephaniah called it, when he spoke on behalf of Yahweh “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
He is with you. Is there any other greater promise? He sets a table for us in the wilderness, He makes a way of escape, He is with you.
Psalm 79:8-9 tells us that mercy meets us in our time of need. Can you see the shepherd? Can you catch the significance?
But like so many times there’s more to the story. The psalmist sings a new song in the fifth verse: “you anoint my head with oil”, an ancient Hebrew practice that has the finger prints of God all over it. It signifies a setting apart, a charge to do greater things in the strength and grace of God.
To the finale, goodness and mercy that follows Gods people like a shadow! A place to dwell, a place to camp and let your roots run deep. Great things happen in His house!
Psalm 23 — as they say in the energy bar ads — get it in to ya!