Musing on Psalm 23
by Joseph Franks
There is only one God and one Lord.
This one God and one Lord, and he is not valued by many. They treat him as an enemy, and he forces them not to bow the knee — yet.
However, this one God and one Lord, he is my Shepherd. A wandering sheep I was. A wandering sheep I am. Yet out of love for me, he left the Father’s fold to secure my salvation and safety. And regardless of my proclivity to wander, he will never let me be without searching me out, rescuing me, discipling me, and bringing me back to his himself and his house.
Therefore, because he is my never-failing Shepherd, I lack absolutely nothing. I am a foolish sheep. He is the all-wise one. Therefore, he knows what I need more than I know what I need, and he always provides sustenance for me — spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally. Sometimes he meets my needs through physical provision and other people. Other times he meets my needs in his own personal, invisible, and mystical fashion. However, he always does that which is best for him and for me.
Ofttimes, he chooses in his providence to lead me through green pastures and beside still waters. In these seasons of sabbath rest, he restores my soul. Yes, life with my Shepherd has many sweet moments. He gives me my daily bread, and quite often he gives me my daily prime-rib as well.
At all times he leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Because he loves his name, and because I wear his name, he will not leave me in the Totally Deprave manner in which he found me. Yes, he has made his name great by saving my soul, adopting me into his family, and sending his Spirit to dwell within me. He continues to make his name great by sanctifying my heart and habits so that I begin to look more and more like the Holy One who owns my body and soul.
But sometimes, he chooses to walk with me through the valley of the shadow of death. Even though I am redeemed and have begun to enjoy eternal life, I still suffer from the initial curse of God. There is still a cursed devil who wishes to steal my joy, murder my soul, and kill my testimony. The earth is full of cursed people who wish to better themselves by harming me. My own soul is less than faithful in showing affection to my Savior; a constant cry of mine is, “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death!” In addition, my planet is dangerous to my health, and someday my body will die unless the Lord returns first.
However, as I get my eyes off the devil, the world, and the flesh, I am reminded that the Lord is my Shepherd, and he is so even in the valley of the shadow of death. Therefore, as I focus on him, I find myself fearing no evil because the greatest Lover imaginable, he is with me. I look at his rod and staff, and they comfort me, for they are mighty tools in the hand of the omnipotent, compassionate, and never-failing Shepherd.
Therefore, whether I picnic with him on the green grass next to the still water, or whether I meet him in the intimacy of my prayer closet, or whether I gather with him and his friends in his house for corporate worship, I find him preparing a table for me even in the presence of my enemies. Imagine that; he, the one God and Lord of the universe, serves me. But more than that, while I am in his presence he anoints my head with oil and super-abundantly fills my cup so that it overflows. I am not just his sheep. I am his guest. I am his lover. I am his bride. I am his anointed priest and king.
So I know that whether I am on the grassy hillside or in the valley of the shadow of death, whether I am in the presence of my friends or in the presence of my enemies, God’s goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. This is because Jesus and his Spirit keep their eye on me all the days of my life.
And when the days of this life are over, I shall see him face to face. For on that great and glorious day, I shall find myself dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY: Lord, we understand this is what your Word says. Lord, we believe this to be true. However Lord, we are struggling to rest in the truth that is found in your Word and in our head. Our head believes you, but our heart struggles. May you meet us today so that our proclamation, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” is more than merely the hopeful cry of our heart. May we find ourselves so content in you that we can state with Paul, “I have learned to be content in any and every situation … I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Father, help us disbelieve the lies of Satan and our flesh. Help us to believe and rest in the sweet promises that come from your loving heart.