A Look at Psalm 23 - Part 2 — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

A Look at Psalm 23 – Part 2 — Morning Devotions

Nothing can separate the love of God as I trust and believe in him. And when I die in Christ, he will gather me home, not as a sheep, but as his child.

Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.

By Chris WittsSunday 8 Mar 2020Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes

In Part 1, I said that Psalm 23 is one of the greatest passages in the Bible. Many people can recite Psalm 23 and use it as a comfort. The first verse says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”.

I want to look at a few more verses today. Verse 2 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters”. We each need a time to stop and rest. Some doctors say we suffer from what’s called ‘hurry sickness’, as we try to cram in more and more in each day. We say, “Faster is the way to go—keep going. Don’t stop”. That may be OK for a while, but the human body can’t keep going at full pace without a cost. Unfortunately some experience breakdown and physical sickness because they don’t stop for a rest.

Stop and Rest

Because God, my Shepherd, knows me better than anyone, he knows when I need to stop and rest, even if I don’t know. Sometimes if I don’t take responsibility for my own health and wellbeing he will make me stop, and that can be sickness or a collapse of some kind. Couldn’t that be the body’s God-given wisdom reminding me that I am a human being, not a human doing? We do some silly things to ourselves at times.

The sheep knows when to stop and rest. I grew up on a sheep farm and saw it for myself. If the sheep is tired from walking, they will stop and lie down. They won’t lie down if they are afraid or hungry, but only when they are fed and safe with no threat of danger around them. You’ll never see a sheep drinking from a rushing stream. They seem to instinctively know that if the wool got wet, they would fall in and drown. So the careful shepherd lead them to ‘quiet waters’ or still waters where they won’t fall in.

David, the author of Psalm 23 goes on to say, “He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (verse 3). Sheep stray and the shepherd watches them and checks they don’t wander off away from the rest. God my Father is like that—he watches over us to stop us from straying. If I do he comes after me, turns me around, and restores my soul. Can you think of ways he has done that for you?

Fear No Evil

Then verse 4 says: “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”. Travelling in the valleys and ravines was dangerous, but the shepherd watched and protected the sheep, and rescued them if they fell. We don’t like talking of death, but we need not be afraid. With God, even the shadow of death is surrounded by companionship and comfort. A shadow may terrify, but God protects us. I need not fear walking in the shadow of the valley.

In fact, the author of Psalm 23 says: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows” (verse 5). God invites us to enjoy his presence every day, to enjoy his fellowship. Anointing the head with oil was an everyday event in Middle-Eastern culture, a sign of true hospitality. The overflowing cup a symbol of joy.

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And the final verse says: “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (verse 6). Here is a marvellous promise for the future. Because goodness and mercy are with me each day, then as a result I will dwell in God’s house, or God’s divine presence, forever. God will safely bring me home to his eternal home. Goodness and love are like the bodyguards to keep me til I get there.

Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of God

Does any danger threaten you on the way to Heaven? Nothing can separate the love of God as I trust and believe in him. For he is the Shepherd King, the sovereign God. And when I die in Christ, he will gather me home, not as a sheep, but as his child. Now you can see why this is such a popular Psalm. It invited us to become one of his sheep by trusting in Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

Isaac Watts wrote these lovely words:

The sure provisions of my God
attend me all my days;
O may Your house be my abode,
and all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,
while others go and come;
no more a stranger or a guest,
but like a child at home.

Thank you Lord for Psalm 23—it brings me such strength!