I haven’t posted for a little while (again…). One reason is that I am struggling. I am not struggling with my faith. God, who “has begun a good work in me is carrying it on to completion until the day of Christ.”
I’m not really struggling all that much physically. I am of course paralyzed from the shoulders down and continue to wrestle with the long-term effects of immobility and inactivity. This issue manifests itself in a variety of ways, which I don’t need to explain now. It is enough to say that I am grappling with a lot of little issues which impact how I feel and how I sleep. So, I feel tired and as the Aussies or English might say, “unwell” – just kind of blah and lousy. So, on several sleepless nights. I have written some wonderful blogs only to have forgotten them by the morning…
Another difficulty I have is just getting started writing. Early in life, I recognized this tendency. For example, I would do heaps of research for a junior high (now middle school) term paper but when it came to actually “putting it all together” in writing I struggled. The process was repeated through college and even in graduate school. To compensate, I have learned to do series even extended series in my pastoral ministry. This way, I didn’t spend a lot of time just deciding what to do. I knew what I was going to do and tried to accomplish it.
As I mentioned before, the 23rd Psalm is one of my favorites and I frequently meditate on it, especially when sleep evades me. All this to say that for the next few weeks, unless providentially hindered or interrupted, I will attempt to lead us through some of the various and precious truths contained in this familiar Psalm.
I offer these meditations on the Shepherd’s Psalm. Psalm 23 is often referred to as the “Psalm of the Crook.”
The song or Psalm of the Crook is actually Psalm 23. It will not surprise you to know that it is located between Psalm 22 in Psalm 24! Psalm 22 is often called the Song of the Cross. While Psalm 24 is referred to as the Psalm of the Crown. Followers of Jesus recognize the progression: suffering/atonement, shepherding/sanctification, and coronation/glorification.
Consider Psalm 23: “A Psalm of David. 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.”
It is significant that Jesus himself uses the imagery of this Psalm and applies it to himself. John 10 quotes Jesus: “I am the good shepherd…” So, the song tells us about Jesus and our relationship with him. Psalm 23 speaks of the Lord in terms of a shepherd. The term used here is not so much of the title as it is a description of the continuous activity of the Lord. The idea is that the Lord Jesus is the one who is shepherding me.
This Psalm can be read profitably in various ways. It is instruction from the Lord; it can be a confession of what we believe concerning the Lord. It could be an affirmation or an encouragement of our faith in the Lord. Some have suggested that it could almost be a confession of our faith and others a minstrel to be the song on life’s journey, giving witness to the grace of God.
You might want to try meditating on it in a variety of circumstances. I frequently recite it from memory as I go to sleep or as an encouragement when I encounter trying situations. I use a Psalm in its entirety and also by considering its individual words and phrases. God often uses the words of the song to reassure me and remind me that I am not alone but that he is with me.
This is a song written by David, King of Israel and “a man after God’s own heart.” The Bible does not depict the life of David as tranquil and placid but rather filled with struggle and turmoil. Bible history informs us of David’s early years when he was a shepherd before God called him to be king. It seems that David never forgot where he came from or how he became king. Perhaps David wrote this song to be used as a reminder of his roots – to lift his eyes to look upon His Shepherd.
So, let us lift our eyes to our Shepherd and resist focusing on the circumstances. If we begin to focus too much on our problems and troubles, they become so large that we cannot see our Lord. But if we look upon our Lord, he becomes so glorious that we are not overcome by our circumstances – We see the Lord, caring for us and shepherding us through them.