Sunday 11 January 2015

PSALM 23 Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

“THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD”                                                                                                                                                
            What is really so special about Psalms 23?  There are several popular hymns based on its words.  These must not be just words to us.  God’s words need to ‘live’ in our heart – not just go in one ear and out the other, as the saying is, which can happen so easily in today’s non-stop world. Thankfully today is a Sunday and for most there should be more time to pause and to meditate. 
            The Psalms’ words’ encourage peace of mind – and this can be a rare blessing for many today!  “The LORD is my shepherd!”  Have you ever thought that Jesus would have seen his Father as his shepherd and what these words would have meant to him? See John 16 v.32 and ponder Isaiah 60 v.6-9 and how our Lord knew the scriptures, they came alive in his mind!   And in ours?  
            The LORD shepherded David throughout his life, he “put away” his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah even before he asked, because he knew the overall condition of his heart.  However, David’s life went through more turmoil after that; but ponder the kind of Psalms this event caused David to write!  Then reflect on the value of those Psalms to many individuals ever since!   Truly, in God’s foreknowledge “all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" [Romans 8 v.28]  Some of these things at first seem bad!  Have you had that experience?
            Good sheep are ever listening for their shepherd’s call.  If their motive is right they will never be in dire need, there will be “still waters” - and when life gets difficult the shepherd will make his presence felt and open the way forward..
            Of course the need for restoration indicates some difficult or even desperate situation when the sheep might, for the moment, cry out, “My God why have you forsaken me?”  We read this in Psalm 22 v.1 which surely indicates David had some moment of desperation himself – before his greater son used those words before giving his climaxing cry, “It is finished” [John 19 v.30]
            “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake”  [v.3] Notice it is “for his name’s sake”- it is because we bear his name, we belong to him;  that happened when we took on his name in baptism – but it might be that you haven’t done that yet?  When we have done that we can say,  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me” [v.4]
            There are few if any who have not experienced “valleys” at some stage – but it is the valleys that help us to appreciate the high hills and the vision they give to us.  Life that is lived on a flat plain provides no vision.
            What are the “rod and staff” that comfort us?  They are symbols, we suggest, of strength and support and the control (when needed) exercised by the shepherd.  How marvellous is the vision of the last verse, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever” 

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