Life - training for life
Psalm 23 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I 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 have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Being a shepherd was a large part of the training ground of David. It was there as a young man, in the solitude of the hills and the pastures that he learned to praise and pray to God. It was as a shepherd that David trained to be a warrior. In 1 Samuel 17:34-36, when David was about to face Goliath, he said: “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.” As a shepherd, David became one of the greatest warriors, one of the most powerful prayers and praisers in all of history. He became the king of Israel; a man of whom God said: 'I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.' (Acts 13:22) Perhaps more than anything else, David learned to fully trust and depend on God. He learned that God cared for and watched over him even more than he did the sheep in his care.
David, the psalmist says: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. In the care of the Lord, there is nothing that we should lack or want. Psalm 37:4 says: Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Philippians 4:19 says: My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. We too, if we will delight in the Lord, if we will remain in His care, will have all that we need or want, we will have our heart’s desire. The psalmist says: He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. We can rest in the presence of the Lord, knowing that all that we need has been provided. We can lie down and rest in His presence. For those who allow the cares, the fears; the anxiety of the day keep them from rest, the psalmist says: In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8) God, like a shepherd, not only provides, but He also protects us. God does not allow us to remain in one place. He leads us and guides us. If we will follow Him, we will be secure and provided for. He will also guide us in righteousness. If we wander from the path of righteousness, we should know that we are no longer in His care, His provision and protection.
The psalmist says: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me. Like the psalmist, if we are in the Lord’s care, even death has no power over us. John 3:16 says: God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. There is no need to fear death. Death is not eternal, it is merely a powerless shadow. Life with God, through Christ is eternal. 2 Corithians 5:8 says: We are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. The psalmist says: Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. We need to understand that the rod and the staff of the shepherd were used to guide and to discipline or correct the wayward sheep. We too should be comforted by the Lord’s correction and discipline. In Deuteronomy 8:5 God says: So know in your heart that just as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. Proverbs 3:12 says: The LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. In Revelation 3:19 the Lord says: Those I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be earnest and repent. The guidance, correction and discipline of the Lord should bring us comfort. It is not His punishment or condemnation, but rather it is His loving invitation for us to return to the path of righteousness.
The psalmist says: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. That the Lord prepares a table in the presence of our enemies and our cup overflows is not so that we would gloat in their presence. Proverbs 25:21-22 says: If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the Lord will reward you. These burning coals are not to kill or injure the enemy, but rather as Jesus says: Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Our cup overflows. We have all that we need and more. We are to share the blessings and provision of God, so that people will see His light in us and give glory to God.
All these things, David learned from his experience as a shepherd. We too have had various experiences in our lives. Some have been good. Some have been difficult, but like the psalmist we should choose to allow all of our experiences to make us people after the heart of God. Romans 8:28-30 says: We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to becomeconformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
May the words of the psalmist also be our declaration and prayer: Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. Amen.