Nowadays when we listen to the news or whenever we read a newspaper, we are mostly bombarded by messages of despair, mayhem, deceit and corruption. Also when we read most of our Christian Identity publications we often only read about the poor apostate state of our fellow men, including fellow believers. Now, don’t think that I am knocking those Christian writers, for they are pointing out that even in our own ranks there is room for improvement. Still, at this time I want to change tack, so to say, and I would like us to look at the other aspect of being a believer. What I am trying to say is simply this, that besides doom and gloom, there is peace and tranquility in our walk with the Lord.
Having said all this I want us to look at David’s 23rd Psalm. I feel that this is one of the most beautiful pieces of scripture in the Bible, full of thankfulness, peace, love and serenity. When I personally feel down and lost, I always find that when reading this Psalm, I am lifted up in spirit afterward. Let’s see what David was saying to us. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me, in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Looking at these verses one by one let’s us see their full meaning.
“The Lord is my shepherd; David, before he became a warrior and later King over Israel, was as a young lad shepherd over his father’s (Jesse) flock. Thus, as a shepherd boy David fully knew the responsibility and duties of a shepherd. He knew that a shepherd had to protect the sheep from whatever predator that might be around and there were always those. We can read about David slaying a lion and a bear. Just as today, there are always evil forces waiting to pounce down on us; if it were not for the saving grace of our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd, we as the sheep of His pasture would surely be devoured. (Read Jer. 10:25).
As a shepherd he also had to make sure of their grazing and leading them to water, in other words, he was responsible for their complete well being no matter what. In Jn. 10:11 Jesus tells us “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep”. Of course the sheep are us.
“I shall not want.” When we live in harmony with our God, He has promised that He will provide for our every need, both physical and material. In Lk. 12:29-31 we read, “And seek not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, neither be of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after; and your father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Also read Ps. 34:9, 10.
“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;” Green pastures again refers to abundance and also to serenity and peace. Eze. 34:12, 14 tells us “As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day…I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a rich pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.” In these verses we read about the re-gathering of the people (lost sheep) in a land of their own and about how we would and do live in abundance and peace in our Israel nations.
“He leadeth me beside the still waters.” I am reminded of a time I spent in upstate New York at a quiet lake, and at twilight, by the lake shore, hearing the lonesome call of a loon and finding such quiet peace there that it is really hard to describe. David must have felt that same kind of peace when he wrote these verses. Of course, water has many uses, one that comes to mind is washing or cleansing. Eze. 36: 24, 25 is a good example. “For I will take your from among the nations and gather you out of all countries and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”
Ezekiel goes on in the next couple of verses telling us that after we are cleansed God will give us a new spirit within us and remove our stony heart and give us a new heart of flesh. His spirit will dwell in us, and then he says that we will be His people and He will be our God. What an awesome promise! In Jn. 4:14 Jesus tells us, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst”. Jesus here is talking about both physical and spiritual thirst. Also Rev. 7:17 tells us that the Lamb shall lead us unto fountains of living waters. These verses all indicate spiritual renewal. Hallelujah.
“He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” This verse is pretty well summed up in the preceding scripture verses so let’s move on to verse 4.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;” So, what would we consider the valley of death to be? This valley seems to be a place of deep despair, a place where evil abounds, a place without God. In scripture, God is always portrayed as abiding on the mountains and not in the valleys. Abraham went to a mountain to sacrifice Isaac, Moses went up the mountain to talk to God, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray to the Father, and there are many other examples in Scripture. Valleys are often depicted as places of doom and despair. The Valley of Dry Bones or the Valley of Jehosephat or the Valley of Megidoh and often times, there is mention of death, slaughter and destruction. But if we walk with God He has promised to see us through. “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Lk. 12:32).
“Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” The rod is the instrument of correction and the staff the symbol of guidance. God does chasten those that He loves. Heb. 12:6 states, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” and in Rev. 3:19 we read, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be zealous, therefore and repent”.
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;” What David is saying here is simply this, that through all diversity and strife the Lord will always abundantly provide for our daily needs, provided that we in turn walk in His ways. Read Mal. 3:10 and Matt. 6:25-33.
“Thou anointest my head with oil.” The anointing with oil is a sign of sanctification. It is when God put His stamp on us. It is when He claims ownership. It is then that He puts His spirit on us and we become totally subservient and dependent upon His grace and mercy. When that happens we can truly say with David, “My cup runneth over”.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” In our walk with the Lord we can be assured that all things in this life will be taken care of by Him and that we shall never lack anything. We have but to ask. 1Jn. 3:22 “And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments.” Also in Jn. 15:7, Jesus says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.” When Christ returns we are assured that all of us who are in Him shall be with the Lord forever. Read 1Thess. 4:17. So, you see that the 23rd Psalm is the complete story of Salvation, Redemption and Everlasting Life.
Henry Ward Beecher described Psalm 23 thusly, “This psalm has flow like a bird up and down the earth, singing the sweetest song ever heard. It has charmed more grieves to rest than all the Philosophies of the world. It will go on singing to your children and their children; till the end of time. And when its work is done, it will fly back to the bosom of God, fold its wings and sing on forever in the happy chorus of those it has helped to bring there!”