Monday, February 22, 2016

Psalm 23 - A Short Study on the Believer's Life

I have done a more in-depth study of Psalm 23 on this blog before, but just recently while thinking on this Psalm again, I began jotting down some things I hadn't thought about then. The 23rd Psalm is so well-loved, I knew I'd have to share it on my blog. This one is only a short study. I pray it blesses you.

The 23rd Psalm is the life story of a believer in Christ. He is our Shepherd, and this Psalm opens with that declaration. The life of a Christian begins with faith in Jesus, and with a confidence that He is not only the Good Shepherd of the flock, but that He is my Shepherd, and actively seeking my personal care.

This Shepherd sees to it that I have both food and drink in green pastures and still waters, while giving me His peace which passes all understanding. By this peace, He restores my soul, for it is upon drinking His Living Water that we shall never thirst. Our souls are renewed by trusting in this Shepherd and following Him, for it is only through Christ we have peace with God.

Behold, however, the hard times come, and it is by our faith and remembrance of His goodness that our souls remain restored and at peace.

Notice we are not spared the valley, we walk through it. Even though the valley is 'of the shadow of death', we fear no evil. Whatever we encounter is not to be feared. Evil cannot harm us while Christ be with us. Why? Why such confidence in the face of evil shadows?

The Lord's discipline is what comforts. His rod smites our evil tendencies while His staff keeps us on the path of righteousness for His name's sake. It is the Lord who keeps us, whose rod is also used to smite the shadows should they wander too close.

Within this valley the Lord prepares a table before us...where? In the presence of our enemies. Not in Heaven with our brothers, not in peace among our friends, but in the presence of our enemies. No matter how they rage and cry and howl and jeer, they cannot stop the feast of God. The evil in this valley cannot lift a finger to keep Almighty God from preparing this table.

Though the darkness presses in, Thou anointest my head with oil. Though the battle rages on, my cup runneth over. I have found both favor with God and have plenty by His hand.

Shadows have no power over the Light. When our God shines forth in glorious splendor, the day breaks...and the shadows flee. And what is the effect of living in the light of the Most High? It is simply this: that goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

From the declaration of the Lord as my Shepherd to dwelling in the house of the Lord forever, we see the entire arc of the Christian life. It is the Lord who leads, and who restores. The Lord never leaves, but is with us to both correct and protect His sheep. The Lord prepares the table and anoints our heads with oil. We have been so richly blessed, that our cup is not only full, it runneth over. And while we follow our Shepherd, His goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives.

From start to finish, the believer's life is a work of the Lord. By His power and grace, we fear no evil. He is the one who preserves our faith.

In Him, we have all we need.

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