“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalm 23:6 (ESV)
Such protection, provision and love from God was what brought David to realize that the Lord’s good loyal love would go with him everywhere through all his life. God’s blessings on us, His people, remain on us no matter what the circumstances are in our lives. When we need substance he gives food and water…good calm water. He restores us when we are overspent. He makes sure we know the right path. If the path gets dark and scary we need not fear because He is there with us. And then, God spreads a banquet for us right in front of those who hate us. We are refreshed with anointing oil. All this goodness comes from God, from His promises. When times are up or down, in the darkest night or brightest day God has our back, and front, and both sides. He watches over us with His goodness and His mercy. Our reservation in God’s house is promised and secure. The ‘house’ is the presence of God, wherever we meet Him and worship. Not a specific building. “I will dwell, there” is our way of saying we’ll be frequently with God returning often to worship Him.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” – Psalm 23:5 (ESV)
In this verse the psalmist changes the illustration. Now the example is more about people, not sheep. In this verse the scene is a feast where a gracious host provides lavish hospitality. Under this metaphor the psalmist is rejoicing in the Lord’s provision. What was comforting to David was that this meal was set in the presence of his enemies. Despite the danger looming around him, the Lord spreads out a table for him, once again telling how God provides for him and for us. The image of anointing the head with oil indicates a host who has great appreciation and wants to make his guest feel refreshed. Oil was soothing and aromatic. Its scent was extremely pleasant. This picture corresponds with the concept of a gracious host welcoming someone into his home. In view of the table and the oil, David knew that his lot in life was his cup which God was filling abundantly with His blessings. Our Lord cares about our ‘cup’ which is our life. Cups were important and precious as lives are precious and important to God. He wants to fill ours to overflowing with His grace and mercy and love.
“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. ” – Psalm 23:4 (ESV)
In Psalm 23, which most people call the “Twenty-third Psalm,” we find our Good Shepherd being our protective shield wherever we go. Some of us have been where our lives have been at risk from nature and/or mankind. Others have faced a different kind of threat and have felt are deep in and under the shadow of evil forces, evil people. There is a valley of shadow for many who suffer from depression. David does not write ‘When’, he says “Even though I walk..” He knows because it is the way of life on this earth. David chooses and determines to NOT fear evil. The promise from God is that He is with us. He protects us from evil and the evil one with his rod. The rod was a club used by a shepherd as a defensive weapon. The staff was for guidance and a help in hilly, rocky areas. It was also a comfort to know it could be a defensive weapon as well as used to carefully control the sheep which had a tendency to go astray. God is fully able to keep us safe from evil and comfort us in all situations.
“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.” – Psalm 23:1-3 (ESV)
A familiar Psalm that is often used in time of difficulty, danger, stress, and fear. Many go to it when their hearts are heavy and they are carrying an emotional load. The Psalm has been divided into 6 verses and they are packed with promises and encouragement. It was so natural for David to use this metaphor. He had been a shepherd once and he had cared this way for his sheep. Jesus identified Himself as the ‘Good Shepherd’ that was promised and expected (John 10:4). The writer of Hebrews calls Jesus the ‘Great Shepherd’ (Hebrews 13:20) and Peter writes of Jesus as the ‘Chief Shepherd’ (1 Peter 5:4). David tells us that God, our Shepherd provides all we need fully. God tends to our physical needs for good food and water. Our troubles though sometimes go beyond our physical and emotional needs and actually cause us unrest within our souls. God takes care of us in these needs as well. He knows we need restoration and guidance along the righteous way. He does all this for His name’s sake. He has promised and He keeps every promise He gives us. Holy is His Name.