Psalm 23 begins and ends with two amazing promises:
I shall not lack.
His goodness and mercy follows me.
Have you ever felt as if your life is contrary to these truths? I have. I have experienced bounced checks, robbing Peter to pay Paul, debt collection. I am familiar with lack. I have been fired from jobs, had doors closed in my face, and been rejected. Where was the goodness and mercy in that?
On the surface, these two truths may give us the idea that God is here to make us happy. That our lives will be filled only with blue skies, green lights, and chocolate. But if we read Psalm 23 in its entirety, through eyes of trust, we see a different story.
He makes us lie down in green pastures – This indicates sometimes we will grow weary in the fight. There will be times when I will need to contend for family, for open doors, for justice. But in the battle, He is there giving me rest.
He leads us beside still water – The promise of “Still waters” is not needed if life weren’t chaotic. Bad news abound. Everyone is vying for your attention but in the middle of the bad reports, the worry, the stress, the anxiety inducing life, God is there leading us in the way of peace. He is leading us to calmness and stillness. He is in the chaos with us.
He restores my soul – in order for their to be a restoration, one must have had a loss. Disappointment and discouragement will affect us all at some time. But God is there reminding us of His goodness, singing over us, restoring our soul back to Him.
He leads me in paths of righteousness – He wouldn’t need to lead us in righteousness if we weren’t sometimes tempted. Tempted to take a short cut to our blessing, tempted to run when God says stay, tempted to fight back in our own strength, tempted to speak when God says be quiet. But God will be there reminding us of who we are, reminding us the battle is His. Leading us to straight paths.
We will walk through times that seem like the valley of death – Devastation can come. But there is no need to fear, God is here. (So much better than Wonder Dog). His perfect love casts out and eradicates all fear. He is in the shadow with you.
He prepares a table in front of our enemies – this indicates we will have enemies. Yes, there is our ultimate enemy, Satan, but he uses people to do his bidding. But God cause us to prosper despite our enemies. He causes us to prosper in front of our enemies.
The beauty of Psalm 23 isn’t the promise of a charmed life. It’s knowing no matter what we face, no matter how difficult life can become God is there bringing rest, peace, restoration, righteousness, love, blessings. So ultimately, I lack nothing. Ultimately I experience goodness and mercy. Ultimately, I dwell in His house on this side of heaven and will also on the other side of heaven. The promises are true.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.”
Psalms 23:1, 6 NKJV