The LORD, the Psalmist's Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
1The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
4Even 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.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Why is it that it seems that the only time we read or hear these incredible words is at a funeral? I would like to make the case that is, almost more than any other scripture, about life not death.
The Lord is my shepherd is a clear statement about the present need for direction, provision and for protection. Much like the sheep that the Shepherd watches over we tend to stray.
He makes me lie down in green pastures… There is something very important to notice here. The statement is not that He allows me to lie down, but that He makes me lie down in green pastures. Think about how He “makes” you lie down.
If we push ourselves too long or too hard we “break down”. Headaches, colds, flu’s, sleeplessness or other physical issues require that we break the cycle that has created the situation. It is often His mercy that requires that we rest and restore!
Yes, He restores my soul.
This next part it simply beyond understanding:
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake…
It is His name that is on the line. He has a vested interest in our righteousness. Our reputations are well known. Nevertheless, He puts His name on the line! Simply unbelievable but simply true!
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me
Read this part carefully, it is not indicating that some day one might have to walk through a terrible place. No, it is saying that “even though I (am walking) through the valley of the shadow of death… The world that we live in is what the psalmist is describing. Consider the world around you. Is there not death, both physical and spiritual, all around you? If you were to look at our situation from afar would it not look like a valley with shadows of death all around?
In spite of our predicament we can fear no evil; why you ask? because He is with us.
He is with us. When you get a few moments re-read the early chapters of Genesis. See how it has always been God’s plan to “be with us”. It only us who wish to go it alone!
His rod and His staff comfort me because they keep me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. He guides and rescues with His rod and staff.
He has not only prepared a feasting table in the face of my enemies, He has anointed my head in preparation for the meal as well.
In contemplation of all that our God has done to guide, provide for and to protect; and understanding that the psalmist has done nothing, absolutely nothing, to deserve any of God’s care, he realizes that he is abundantly blessed: My cup overflows!
Once one comes to grips with the truth of these wonderful words, one can only then be fully assured that: Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life. There is nowhere within the valley of the shadow of death that I can go that He is not already there waiting for me to protect, guide and to provide for me for His names sake.
Clearly, we no longer live within the valley of the shadow of death; our address has changed. And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. There is a present as well as a continual sense of dwelling in the house of the Lord. It has begun and will continue forever.
We do such a disservice to the Church when we relegate this Psalm of life to the pages of remembrance at memorials and funerals. I hope that you will come back to this Psalm again and again and absorb the life that it presents. And I hope that you will never see it the same again.
Invest enough time within this Psalm to you cup also overflows!