Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Psalm 23: The Loving Providence of God

In my personal devotional time lately, I've been reading Psalm 23. When you think about Psalm 23, thanks to Hollywood, what typically comes to mind are funerals and famous last words. Yet, over the last few weeks, I began to see that this Psalm is more than what it normally gets passed off as. Far from being a dour and dirgey Psalm, it is much more fitting to be understood as a testimony of God's providence and blessing in the life of the Christian.
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.
Here we have the common motif of God as the Good Shepherd, who care for his flock. David is lead by the Lord to still waters and green pastures. More than just pretty imagery, David uses it as metaphor for the spiritual reality: God restores his soul and leads him along the path of righteousness. His spiritual needs are taken care of so that he has none: I shall not want. To the Christian, God provides just as much as he did for David. Through Christ, our sinful souls are restored, and the Spirit guides and sanctifies us, taking us along the path of righteousness.
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.
It is important to note that the path of righteousness often requires us to walk through trials and temptations in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The Christian life does not promise a life of ease and luxury. As Peter wrote in his First Epistle, "But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed....For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil." In times of trouble and trial, our God is ever with us, our constant help and salvation. The loving corrections of the Good Shepherd comfort us in our trials, giving us the consolation that the not only is God with us to rebuke us, but that he works even those trials to our gain.
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.
Even when we are surrounded by evil, the Lord still provides our daily bread. Moreover, he blesses us, and gives us in abundance that which we need. In light of all this David arrives at a clear conclusion: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." Looking back over the course of the Christian's life, the regular blessings of God should cause you to look to the future with the firm conviction that the very same God will continue to bless you and supply your needs, all the days of your life. Looking beyond this life, David peers into eternity: "And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Such was his hope, and so is it ours also.

2 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Looking back over the course of the Christian's life, the regular blessings of God should cause you to look to the future with the firm conviction that the very same God will continue to bless you and supply your needs, all the days of your life.

I know this truth; I have seen it time and time again in my life, yet it's the one I always forget. Every time I start to worry (usually about money) I have to remind myself that He owns cattle on a thousand hills--God will provide. Maybe not in the way I thought (or even like) but He will provide.

Jacob said...

Definitely. I've yet to go hungry or thirst, yet to not have a roof over my head and a place to sleep, and yet to not have anyone to turn to for help.