Psalm 23 (ESV)
“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. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
The first Psalm most of us learn in Sunday School or in Bible studies. Why? Because it seems like a fundamental declaration of who God is, what our relationship with God should be, could be, and may be. It is also a statement of what God provides and what we are able to receive. The author, presumably young King David, is declaring his relationship with God based on his understanding of God as he has experienced His presence. It is a humble declaration and a modest statement of the greatness of God.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me to still waters.” He is a guide, a protector, a nurturer, and a provider. He is a watchful guide, a protective guide. He will not lead anyone astray and will keep tabs on all of us. He will look after our needs and lead us to those places where we can be most nourished and refreshed. This is a figure or presence that can be trusted and relied upon.
God has the means to restore our souls. He can relieve us of the heavy burdens of guilt and shame and He can forgive us. He can love us at our worst as well as our best. He can inspire us, embolden us, and give us the gifts and talents we need to see us through life. This is a God of power who can remove all obstacles in our way.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” God is with us in life as well as in death and resurrection. God is with us when we celebrate every milestone big or small and He is present when we stumble or fall flat on our faces. God has the power to restore what has been taken from us. God has the means to bring justice and order to the unjust and chaotic. God can see us through our troubles and restore us as he restored Job when the Devil tortured and tormented him to test his faith and loyalty to God.
God even prepares a table in the presence of our enemies! God provides in the face of our greatest adversities, in full view of our enemies. God is not afraid of our enemies. God does not hide His authority or power when it is needed. God has often asserted Himself and made known He is God and a Living God as well as a God of the Living. He will stand to protect you.
God has prepared a place for you to receive an abundance of care and protection and all we need to do is allow ourselves to be receptive to His guidance. We have to trust in the Lord’s authority when we recognize it. We need to be open to His influence in our lives.