Psalm 23:1-6 (NKJV)
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
The heart’s cry of a once young shepherd boy to His heavenly Father who has kept him and loved him through all the moments of his life. We all know this oft-quoted passage well. This is how David saw his God. Who is God to you?
Verse 1 – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” I shall not want what I cannot afford. I shall not want what I do not really need. I shall not want what someone else has. I shall not want something that has no practical value. I shall not want to be the center of attention. I shall not want to always be right. I shall not want the constant approval of my fellow man. Why? Because “I have all that I need” from the most loving Shepherd, who tells me in John 10:14 that “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” I am loved by God and therefore I am known by God and seen by God. He will “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), and He will fill up all the empty spaces in my heart with Himself.
Verse 2 – “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” He sees the burden I (choose to) carry, and He coaxes me to put them in down in favor of something better. He lovingly whispers to me “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). He beckons me to come sit at His feet and just be with Him (Luke 10:39).
Verse 3 – “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” He redirects me when I go my own way. “He renews my strength” when I am too tired to continue moving forward. He fills me with Himself, exchanging my human shortcomings for His goodness. Isaiah 43:18-19 reminds us that He is a God of the new, wanting to redeem us for His glory – “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” He also promises that He will help me remove the rags of shame I choose to put on and will give me His glorious beauty instead (Isaiah 61:3 – To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, That they may be called trees of righteousness …).
Verse 4 – “Yea, 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.” Yes, I will walk through the trials and tribulations of daily life. Yes, I will suffer the consequences of my bad choices. Yes, I will mess up … a lot. But I will not fear punishment, death, or being forsaken. For You will still love me with an astonishing everlasting love through it all (Ephesians 3:17-19). You will hear my prayers, and You will answer each one – in Your timing and according to Your perfect plan (Proverbs 16:9). Your Spirit lives within me to help me make better choices and live uprightly (John 16:13). And You will never leave me alone or let me walk through the trials alone (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Verse 5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.” You always take care of me. You protect me, especially from myself and my own bad decisions. You cover me continually with grace and chase me down with mercy. You help me to live peaceably with people around me, especially those who are difficult to love (Romans 12:10,14,18). You give me strength to keep going, to keep trying, and to keep praying (Isaiah 40:29). You give me the courage to love, to reconcile, and to apologize. You give me the humility to be compassionate, to be grace-full, and to forgive.
Verse 6 – “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” I am loved! I am surrounded by, filled up with, sheltered by, and covered with Your unfailing love (Ephesians 3:17-19). You have made it possible for me to be adopted by You – to be called Your daughter and to be accepted as Your loved child. “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6). You will redeem my life’s story for Your glory (Romans 8:28) – all my good moments and bad, all my happy moments and sad, all my angry moments and peaceful. And I can be assured that NO THING “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”! (Romans 8:39)
So now I hope you will take a moment or two to consider God’s fingerprints on your life. And as you do, consider my original question – Who is God to you?
Marie Fremin, 5/20/16