Why does it take me so long to see things? I am 52 years old, and I have just now realized some things about the 23rd Psalm. Here it is to jog our memory…
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Ps. 23:1-6).
When I was a little boy I would hear things in ways they were not meant. I thought David meant he did not want God as his shepherd. I have known for a long time now that the opening line means if we will follow God, He is able and will provide everything we need. We will not “want” for anything.
It also speaks to peace and restoration and a moral compass. Still waters, a new and restored soul/relationship and being shown the “path of righteousness”, are vital to our existence. I retired from the Justice Department and dealt with numerous men (some whom you would know), infamous people who lived a life totally opposite of these six verses. There was no peace in their life, they had no rest or restoration for their souls and they were on the path to destruction. As AC/DC would later put it, they were on the “Highway to Hell”. Every year that went by, someone would come up to me and say getting caught and convicted was the best thing that ever happened to them.
Recently, social changes and less than righteous political and judicial decisions have caused many of us to lose hope and step away from the debate. Some do it out of fear, some respond out of frustration that it doesn’t matter what we do.
Just a few weeks ago, God revealed some truth to me about this Psalm of David. Do we all understand David was a shepherd? He knew about leading, feeding, and protecting the flock. He is not talking about walking through things as a man. He is putting himself in the place of the sheep. Even though I can hear the howl of the wolf and the growl of the lion in that valley, I’m not afraid! I know God is with me! He is my Shepherd! He is my defender! Until recently, I envisioned myself holding the rod and staff and fighting things off under my own strength.
Here is the truth. I am not brave because I can defend myself and can hold the tools to fight off death and evil. I have courage because God is with me, and He holds the rod and the staff. There IS no wolf, lion or bear that can get past my Shepherd! He is my shield and my strength and my refuge! He loves me and not only will, but does protect me daily!
We will pick up the second half of this Psalm next time.