Dear Saints of the Living God, Mercy and Grace to you and your family!
The last couple of days has been like being in the midst of a whirlwind, where i was surrounded by amazing men and women of God, and there was a tremendous Joy, when you are in the fellowship of the believers – who are singing and praising the Lord in every action that they do.
As the song goes… “The Joy of the Lord”
“The joy of the Lord will be my strength
I will not falter, I will not faint
He is my Shepherd, I am not afraid
The joy of the Lord is my strength
It is an humbling experience, when you are in that cloud, where every action you do is carried by the spirit, and you have no choice to falter or faint…
Today morning, i want to pick on a topic that the Lord spoke to me about for this weekend, as a message for Elmwood church… On Sunday morning, i was praying and asking God what shall i speak this morning… and the Lord was pointing me to Psalms 23, and i was saying God – really, people have heard this Psalms preached and this is one of the Psalms that is the most memorized chapters…
But the Lord gave me a fresh message for this church… and i thought, it is worth sharing…
Usually, King David’s psalms starts with a complain and will end well… but this Psalm is full of comforts, and the expressions of delight in God’s great goodness and dependence upon him. He recounts his experience of the kind things God has done for him as his shepherd.
When we read Psalms 23, it starts of with a bold statement, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”;
In order to understand this psalm, we have to get to the basics of it… The whole psalms is about one sheep telling another how good his/her shepherd is. It is a Sheep talk…
The sheep is saying, his shepherd is so good, that He would die for them on the cross. Sheep never chooses the Shepherd, it is the other way round… and when you think about the life of Sheep, it is hard life – it has to sleep on the open air, constantly bothered by coyote and foxes, mother nature from time to time sends rain and thunderstorms, in the nights they are bothered by flies… in other words, they are at the mercy of the Shepherd to do good, when all these things comes after them.
Last year, i heard about a man, who was sick, with terminal illness, and the doctors have said, go ahead and inform your family members that you may not live past 48 hours… this man had young children and so in all his bitterness and helplessness, he picked Psalms 23 and started reading… and as he was reading he felt good and when he finished reading… his heart was so soothened, he wanted to read it again… and so throughout the whole day – he kept reading and reading and reading… and he probably read 250+ times that day… and the same thing continued the next day and the next day – and for some reason he forgot about his disease and all the things around him, because this psalm gave his such a tremendous strength.
The 48 hours has become 4 months and then it turned into year… and now this man is an evangelist preaching God’s word.
You see, our strength comes from the Lord. He is the source of our redemption… He is the source of our restoration, reconciliation and reconstruction of the relationship; That’s what Psalmist has realized when he wrote this Psalm.
His Shepherd is so good – this sheep has no wants in its life. Why? “He makes me to lie down in green pastures”, we have to understand, David lived in Palestine, and there was no green pastures anywhere all dry land, and so the Shepherd has to either create it for his sheep by spending all that he has or go throughout the land, to find a place, where he can take his sheep to. Even today, the Lord is going to find us the place of plenty, and give us the much needed rest on a green pastures.
The one area that spoke the most is, verse 5, the psalmist is saying his Shepherd prepares a table in the presence of his enemies. This verse is talking about present tense. This is not about heaven, because there you don’t have enemies – that’s why it has to be now, when we live in the midst of the enemies, the Lord is preparing a table. It reminds of the practice the shepherds have in those days, where they have little raised tables to feed the sheep.
Then he says, “You anoint my head with oil”, oil is usually poured on the head for 2 key purposes, 1. to calm/cool down the body from all the heat… and 2. the aroma of the oil will keep the flies away in the nights, so the sheep can rest better. Often times, we are distracted by the flies… the worries and the shadows…
“My cup runs over”, when the sheep needs to get the water from the brook, then it has to kneel down and put the face into the water to drink, which is often very messy and uncomfortable; This life that we live in, has its own challenges, but when we allow the Lord to take control, then he will bring the water in a cup and place it before us, and he will also make sure the cup is filled… not empty or half filled, but constantly filling them, so the cup overflows.
The word of the Lord has power and strength to change any circumstance… and i am not sure what you are going through this morning, and the one way, we can get into the cloud and gain the strength is to go after God’s word with hunger and thirst, just like the man who was expecting death…
All we can do is, “Dwell in the house of the Lord forever” – as the goodness and mercy follow us, wherever we go.
Today morning, i am praying that the Lord has spoken to you through these words… but more than that, i want you to pick the Psalms 23 – and read them… and re-read them… and re-re-read them, because there is so much of wealth of comfort and love and affection flowing from the top to the bottom. It is the sheep talking… about the goodness of his/her shepherd.
May Your Good Shepherd bless you!