Psa. 23:0 A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Psa. 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
Psa. 23:5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
The good Shepherd in this Psalm is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Daily we are invited into deeper intimacy with our Lord who reminds us that all provision has already been made for our lives. As a result, we shall not want for those things which we absolutely need. Just as manna was provided for the Israelites in the wilderness, so God wants to be our provider of daily bread.
Not only are we to relax in God’s provision, but we are literally to rest. The green pastures and the still waters provide all the food and drink, both physically and spiritually which we might need. It’s when we feast upon that which the Lord provides that we are restored and rejuvenated. It’s God’s good food which brings newness of life and also clarity of mind to follow in the right direction.
There is no guarantee that everything in life will go well. We will walk through dark valleys where it will feel like the enemy is waiting to strike us down. We may even call this the valley of the shadow of death for it is the darkest place in life where we may have to tread. Even in this dark place we can have peace. The Lord’s rod protects us and we lean on the staff when we have no strength of our own. We are comforted by the presence of the Lord’s instruments.
Finally the table invokes visions of the Lord’s table. This is a place where heaven and earth meet and the transformational work of the Holy Spirit graces us to love our enemies. We can pass the peace of Christ to those whom we feel have offended us because in Christ we are united and made one. The anointing oil of God’s healing pours over our wounds and brings healing. We lift our cup to drink and discover that the grace of God found at the table will so fill our cup that it will be constantly filled to overflowing.
Out of this overflow we discover the very nature of God. God’s goodness, and God’s mercy (compassion, love) will become a part of who I am because I will sit down and “tabernacle” in the Lord’s house every day of my life.
The Lord is my companion, my provider, my protector, and my sustainer.
We are all looking for provision in life, whether we realize it or not. Most of the time we are trying to depend upon ourselves, our skills and abilities. It’s hard for us to slow down long enough to imagine this type of relationship with our holy God. And yet, this is the promise of a life of holiness. It is in participating — dwelling in the house of the Lord — that we are transformed by the sustaining grace of the Good Shepherd. This Psalm describes the kind of life that is possible when we are completely dependent upon God. Provision has already been made for God’s people, if only we will slow down long enough to recognize it.
This Lenten journey may feel like a wilderness, or it may take us to the green pastures and still waters. Eventually it always leads us to the table of grace. May we join with our enemies, rejoicing in the transformational power of the Holy Spirit that invites us, through grace, to dwell eternally in God’s holy presence.
Lord, your grace and love overwhelm. Please, help me to slow down enough to relax in your provision. Amen.