1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 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. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of myenemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
This is one of the first psalms that many young people memorize and place in their heart. It is a simple psalm yet rich in meaning. The relationships are simple. The Lord is the shepherd, and we are his sheep. He leads and we follow. He takes care of us and we enjoy the life he gives us. Our companions are goodness and love and they will be with us along the entire journey. Our dwelling will be in the house of the Lord forever.
I could go deeper with this psalm as many other writers have in the past. However, this is a personal psalm, a psalm of a personal relationship between the Lord (shepherd) and the believer (sheep). Once you know the Lord and walk with Him then these words will have a special meaning to you. You will recall times in your past walks that he gave you rest, times in the past that he had to restore you, times in the past when everything seem too far gone to be save and yet he rescued you, times that he blessed you as your enemies were watching and observing how great God rewarded you, times when the peace of God that passes all understanding came over you and finally you truly realized that this world is not your home but heaven is and you enjoy your life on this as a journey with friends and family. If you don’t know the Lord and you are going about this journey on earth alone, then you are missing the most precious relationship that you could have on this earth.
As I read this Psalm, I realized that it is a Psalm that I have hidden in my heart. As I journey daily on this life, I must realize that this shepherd in Psalms twenty-three is also the one who opens and closes the doors of opportunity for me as I continue on this journey of life on this earth. Verse six which states “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life” should be the goal we pursue daily. It is easy for us to want more. I remember a picture of four cows divided into four pastures with each cow reaching between the barbwire into the pasture of the other cow. The words underneath this picture was “The grass is greener on the other side”. Ask yourself this question today, “are you happy to be in the green pastures that the Lord makes you lie down in today”? Remember it is the shepherd that leads you in the path of life. Stay on the path and Goodness and Mercy will follow you all the days of your life.
1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? 2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. 3He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. 4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 5His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies. 6He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.” 7His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. 8He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent, watching in secret for hisvictims. 9He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. 10Hisvictims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. 11He says to himself, “God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees.” 12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. 13 Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? 14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out. 16 The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. 17You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, 18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.
Today is one of those days that is special to me. It is my mother’s birthday and today she would have been 100 years old. In II Timothy 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and on your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” I am so thankful for both my grandmother and my mother for the faith that they instilled in my life. They help prepare the good soil in my live so that when the seed of the gospel was sown in my life it was able to grow and not wither.
This psalm starts out as a prayer to God asking why God does not take action against the wicked. The psalmist asks God why he hides himself in times of trouble. The psalmist then describes what he sees as the characteristics of the wicked.
Characteristics of the Wicked:
full of pride
they hunt down the weak
devises evil schemes
boastful against God
seeks the cravings of his heart
bless the greedy
reviles God and does not seek him
his ways seem prosperous
he sneers at his enemies
in his pride he is above God’s law
in his pride nothing can shake him
his mouth is full of cursing
he tells lies and uses threats
trouble and evil surround him
he waits to ambush and destroy the innocent
he waits to catch the helpless and drags them off.
he believes God does not care and that he does not see
God will not hold him accountable for his actions
This psalm ends with a plea for God to arise and take action against the wicked and evil man and call him into account for what he has done. Then this happens man who is on the earth will no longer live in terror. This day will come when the Lord returns. Why the delay? Peter answers this in II Peter chapter three “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”. How should we live “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in his sight. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you”.
The way of the Lord is a mystery to the world. The world places itself above God. God really does not exist to them; their hearts are even callous to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. They have no need of God, since they have set themselves up as God. However, the one fact of life faces them as it does all man and that is death awaits us all. For the ungodly this is the end, but for the Christian death is the door for our new life. In I Corinthians 13:13 states “Three things will last forever Faith, Hope, and Love, but the greatest of these is Love. Faith will become sight, hope becomes the fulfillment of all God’s promises, and love is the wonderful relationship we have now but will only grow greater the more we know our Lord in the future after we pass from this life to the next.
A psalm of David. 1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. 3My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? 4 Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. 5No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave? 6I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. 7My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all myfoes. 8 Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping. 9 The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. 10 All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace.
In the devotional My Utmost for His Highest for April 2, 2009 Oswald Chambers writes “The lasting characteristic of a spiritual man is the ability to understand correctly the meaning of the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, and the ability to explain the purposes of God to others.” as the spiritual insight that we need to portray in our daily walk. This psalm is an example of those events that take place in our life in which we know God, but we cannot grasp an understanding on how God is using those events in our life at that moment to shape us for his purpose.
In this psalm David knows the Lord. He knows of God’s anger and discipline and he knows of his unfailing love. He had witness how God had used Saul to united Israel as a nation, but also witness how God had deserted Saul when he refused to obey God. He saw the pain and suffering that Saul went through when the Spirit of the Lord left Saul. He also saw the type of person that Saul became when he forsook the Lord’s way and pursued his own path. However, he also saw how much pain and suffering Saul could inflict on others. Events such as when Saul had Doeg the Edomite kill eighty-five members of the priest family were hard for David to grasp when it came to understanding God intervention in the affairs of man.
As I study the issues that David must have faced in this psalm and apply it to the issues that I face I realize that David is wrestling with gaining an understanding of the events surrounding him. The more I study the psalms the more I realize that David was writing his psalms to help him understand the nature and attributes of God. David knew that God was in control, however, he also realized that evil existed in the world and that this evil was godless. Godliness and godlessness cannot exist together. Therein lays the conflict that we see in the world today, those who walk in the way of the righteous and those who opposes the righteous way of God. The major issue that I see today is that many believers strive to make a stand against all unrighteous that they see exist all around them and take matters into their our hands, instead of leaving it to God. We should become like David and become obsessed with the pursue of knowing God and living a blameless life. If we truly believe like David; then we like him, will know that the four results of verses nine and ten will take place.
The LORD has heard my cry for mercy
the LORD accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed
they will turn back in sudden disgrace
Living a blameless life is different than living a perfect life. One of the earliest struggles that I faced as a Christian was striving for human perfection. Paul also gives us an example of his struggle with living a life of perfection in Philippians chapter three. Paul purpose changed from striving to live a life of perfection to knowing God and the power of his resurrection. He sought the fellowship of Christ suffering and being made conformable unto God’s nature. Oswald Chambers summarizes Christian perfection in his devotional from December 2 as “Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship with God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life.” So as we go through times in our life that we cannot understand God’s leading look at them as a time that God is making us conformable unto His nature.
Thought for the day. Do I really know the ten commandments?
Thou shall have no other gods before me. Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image. Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Honor thy father and thy mother. Thou shall not kill. Thou shall not commit adultery. Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Thou shall not covet.
1 Give ear to my words, O LORD, considers my sighing. 2 Listen to my cry for help, myKing and myGod, for to you I pray. 3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. 4You are not a Godwho takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. 5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. 6You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors. 7 But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. 8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of myenemies– make straight your way before me. 9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit. 10 Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. 11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them that those who love your name may rejoice in you. 12 For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
As you read this chapter think back to the examples that God has given to us in the Old Testament as examples of righteousness and unrighteousness lifestyles. Also, as you reflect on the psalms remember that the writer and the readers did not have all the scripture that we have now. The Pentateuch (the writings of Moses) were the main writings that David or the writers of the other psalms were referring to as God’s Word or his Law. However, in this law they were given examples such as Cain and Abel, Isaac and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, and others as an illustration on how they should live their life on this earth.
This is a psalm related to prayer. The very reason I started my reading of the psalms several years ago was to help my prayer life. Prayer is the process of making request to God. As I have been studying the psalms in my quest to improve my prayer life, I have found out how important the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-15 is in a believer’s life. This prayer has five simple parts which are very important in guiding our prayer life.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one
Simply put we look to God for our daily needs. Leave the future to him. In the past few years my prayer request has change from praying for things to a prayer of becoming more Christ-like in my daily walk. As I take a close look at this psalm, the Lord’s prayer and the life of Christ from the Gospels I realized that our daily prayer is a prayer for God to need our physical needs and a prayer to guide us in the activities of the coming day. That all! In this process the things that God has taken out of my life and the things He has brought into my life has richly blessed me. The psalmist stated better than I could in verses eleven and twelve of this psalm. So just take refuge in Christ, rest in the peace he gives you, and enjoy the blessings he brings your way.
One of the interesting facts about the Bible is that it is a great history book of the nation Israel. One interesting period of this history is the first one hundred and twenty years of nation under the three kings: Saul, David, and Solomon. If we looked at the first one hundred and twenty years in American history 1789 – 1909 we can see how much God has blessed this nation just like Israel was blessed. This time period in American history would represent the time period of the presidents from George Washington to William Howard Taft. During this time period our nation grew from the thirteen original states to forty-six states. It grew from the western boundaries of the nation being the Appalachian Mountains to the western boundaries being the Pacific coast. It grew from a colonial state that just gained its independence to one of the most powerful nation in the world. When we look at the history of Israel during these one hundred and twenty years, we must consider that the growth of the nation of Israel was also similar to the growth of the America during her first one hundred and twenty years. It grew from a group of disorganized tribes to the most powerful nation on earth at that time. When studying the psalms, the reader must realize that much of the history of this book was written during the latter part of Saul’s reign and the reign of David as king. By understanding the history of this time period and the relationship between Saul and David, as well as the relationships of David with his sons and other officials we can grasp a better understanding of the psalms.
As one grows daily in the Lord, we learn that the disappoints that come into our life are usually self-imposed or imposed upon us by others. Yet, we listen as the inexperience and immature believer question situations in their life as to “why God would let this happen to me?”. The simple reply to their question is “Have you turned your eyes upon Jesus?”. The words from Helen Howarth Lemmel song Turned Your Eyes upon Jesus remind us that when we do turn our eyes upon Jesus that the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free! Through death into life everlasting He passed, and we follow Him there; O’er us sin no more hath dominion— For more than conquerors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised; Believe Him, and all will be well: Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell!
Refrain: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.
One of the greatest signs that a believer walk is mature is where his or her focus on life lies. Is it on the things that causes the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life or is the focus on walking with Christ?
A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
1 O LORD, how many are myfoes! How many rise up against me!
2Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah 3 But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. 4 To the LORDI cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah 5I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. 6I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. 7 Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O myGod! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. 8 From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on yourpeople. Selah
As I read this psalm, I recall the verses that recount the story of David and Absalom. I am not one that fills in the blanks so I will not try to determine the relationship that David had with his son Absalom. Absalom was David’s third son (2 Samuel 3:3) and the half-brother to Ammon who was David’s oldest son but whom also had raped Tamar Absalom’s sister. Read the story in 2 Samuel 13:1 – 19:43 to get a full account of the story that leads to this psalm. However, until you have one of your own children rebel against you to the point of wanting to destroy you and go against the truth; you can never fully understand how David felt here. David waited on the Lord. This is different from the approach that many take today. The belief that God takes care of those who take care of themselves is a belief that carries over to almost every aspect of our life. We are living in an age where we must make it happen, and when it does it must be God’s will; yet I believe we have really forgotten the art of waiting on the Lord. As you read these verses look at David’s response to the trial he is going through. He is trusting in God as his shield and the one that gives glory. He will rest and lie down because the Lord sustains him. He will not fear because from the Lord will comes deliverance. David knew how to trust God and that when we measure the battles, we fight in the fleeing moments of this life they are nothing compare to the victories we will have with him for eternality.
May your blessing be on your people reminds us to walk in the way of the Lord. Remember there is only one way and he is the way, the truth, and the life, so walk in this way and be bless.
Here we see David the father of Absalom running from his son. When studying David’s life, the main theme I have realized is his personal relationship with the Lord and how this relationship changed David. In I Kings 15:3-5 David’s character is described as having a heart that was wholly devoted to his God. The only blemish on David’s life was the case of Uriah the Hittite. David’s examples of how he lived his life reflects a man who was truly a man after God’s own heart. He was not a man who was searching for God, but a man who walked in the way of God who waited on God’s transforming power to make his heart like God’s heart. This is reflected in the way he handled himself at the death of his son Absalom. He wept. Joab and Israel could not understand this weeping, just as the world today cannot understand the love and patience of God as Peter writes about in II Peter 3:9. Just as the thought that David had in his heart as he walked in his chamber “O my son Absalom, my son Absalom! Would I have died instead of you.” is the same love God has for us his children. In fact, that is why Christ died on the cross for us. With his death and resurrection, he made a way to restore the broken relationship between God and man. So, when you study the psalms as well as all scripture wait on God to open up his Word to you. Then you will start to see God’s transforming work in your heart as he makes you into a child of God. Stop searching for God in our way and start walking and growing in his way by studying his Word and letting it speak to you. Let your walk be characterized as a man or women who is walking with the Lord and enjoying sweet communion with Him. Let your communion with Him be a candle that sheds light to those who are searching for God.
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
1Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 5For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
This is one of the first psalms (along with psalm 23) that we teach our children. Yes, it was from the King James Version that most of us remember. As we read the truths found in this psalm we must also ask how much we apply these truths to our daily routine. Do we truly worship the Lord with gladness, or do we question His actions or lack of actions in the affairs of man? Do we come before him with joyful songs or does our praise seem to focus on the deeds of fallen man whom we have elevated above the common man? Do we look to him as creator when we look at the world around us, or do we try to explain the existence of this universe to other forces? When we said the phrase “we are his people and the sheep of his pasture” does our daily activity reflect his righteousness and truth in every aspect of our labor? The phrase “the sheep of his pasture” should reflect a total guidance of our daily activities being lead by him. Do you really even in the darkest of times know that the Lord is good and his love endures forever? When we consider the phase “and his truth endureth to all generations” do we stop and reflect upon this truth? In John 14:6 Christ states that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to God, but through Him.