The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides 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 love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23 (NIV)
How wondrously ‘cool’ was it when I went to my Bible study yesterday and our Scripture was a psalm! And in case I thought I could learn nothing new from a very familiar passage â€“ I did learn!
When the word ‘Lord’ is in all caps like this: LORD, then it is God’s name or Yahwah which is the way we spell and say it in English. It is the name that God indicated to Moses. â€œI AM Yahweh.â€ Notice that this psalm begins and ends with that word, LORD. God, my LORD, is the beginning and end of all.
God is my shepherd. What does that mean? If you have not read the book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by W. Phillip Keller, (ISBN-10: 0310291429) first written in 1996, then you need to check it out from your local library or invest $12 in a wonderful book. A shepherd is a protector, provider, and comforter to the sheep that he loves. Yes, loves. A shepherd, like David was, will sleep with his sheep to provide them with the assurance of his presence. I was reminded today that David was not only a shepherd but a king. My LORD, my shepherd, is also my King.
My shepherd provides all. The image of green pastures and water is the food and drink to the sheep. My shepherd goes further than just providing for my physical body…He restores me. God doesn’t just rehab me â€“ He doesn’t bring me from broken and bruised to where I was before. God takes me from death in my sin to totally NEW life. I do not have a ‘redone’ old life. I am brand new!
The next part about walking through the valley of death is a phrase that many of the Bible versions try to ‘pretty up’ and avoid the ‘d’ word. This is such a pretty psalm â€“ why shadow it with mentioning a downer concept? Because death happens! Unless Jesus comes back before, the only way I can get to heaven and live with God forever â€“ is to die! And most of us, if we are honest, fear death. It is, at best, an unknown, and at worse, we are for sure we are going to heaven. God wants me to know that no matter the fear â€“ He is with me and wants to assure me that He has conquered death and I have nothing to fear if I have chosen to walk with Him.
And I walk with the Creator who has the rod and staff â€“ the tools to protect me with all authority at all times and in all ways. Even when evil lurks around the edges (and it will in this world), God provides not just enough to sustain me but a feast! He sits me down and serves me. Remember how Jesus did it in the last Supper?
Now the part I didn’t know was in this phrase: Surely goodness and love will follow me. Nope. Wrong translation! ‘Goodness’ and ‘mercy’ do not follow me! The word is not ‘follow’ it is pursue!!! Goodness and mercy pursue me! Maybe I need to slow down in my agenda and plan and let God’s goodness and mercy catch me!!!
I shall life with God my whole life â€“ that includes eternity! WOW! I am so glad I went to class!