Psalm 23: Unquenchable Faith, Love Everlasting

April 4, 2017

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  (Psalm 23:6)

What is the basis of the unquenchable faith of David? What gives him the assurance that all the blessings he has described (in Psalm 23) will be experienced all the days of his life and forever?

The word Selah, found frequently in the Psalms of David, can be interpreted: “Pause and calmly think about that.” If we pause and calmly think about it, we realize that all through Psalm 23, David presents his Shepherd as the great Initiator of their relationship.

It is the Shepherd Who gets David’s attention, then makes him lie down and say, “baa,” confessing that he is a sheep and the Lord is his Shepherd. It is his Shepherd Who makes David lie down where the green pastures are and then leads him beside still waters. It is David’s Shepherd Who uses His staff when David strays from Him, and drives him into the paths of righteousness that restore his soul. It is God, the Good Shepherd Who initiates these interventions in David’s life.

As David walks through the valley of the shadow of death, his confidence is not in his own extraordinary ability as a warrior to see himself through that valley. His confidence is clearly in his Shepherd. As David walks through this dark and scary valley, he is looking to God for protection and provision. He knows his Shepherd will personally anoint him with oil and keep that cup running over within him.

The source of David’s confident faith is clearly seen in the way the New Jerusalem Bible translates this verse: “Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.” It is also expressed in these words from the hymn, “I Sought the Lord,” written by George McDonald.

            “I find, I walk, I love, but Oh the whole of love

            Is but my answer, Lord to Thee.

            For You were long beforehand with my soul.

            Always, you have loved me.”

Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk

A Prescription for Preparation

August 11, 2012

“My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You…” (Psalm 5:3)

What would you think of a concert violinist who played a brilliant concerto and then instead of granting an applauding audience an encore, fervently tuned his violin?  Spiritual people over the centuries believed that we should not play the concert of our day and then at night tune our instrument when the concert has already been played.

Do you wake up holy in the morning?  I mean, before you have had your coffee, are you spiritual?  Most people do not wake up holy.  I believe it is possible for spiritual people to wake up holy, but if we will be honest I believe many of us will confess there are times we do not wake up that way.

George McDonald, a mentor of C.S. Lewis, wrote:  “With every morn my life afresh must break the crust of self gathered about me fresh, that Thy Wind-Spirit might rush in, shake the darkness out of me and rend the mesh the spider devils spin out of my flesh, eager to net my soul before it wake, that it may slumber us lie and listen to the snake.” 

That is an eloquent and accurate description of the way I sometimes awaken.   When I wake up listening to the snake I need to ask God to break the crust of self that has gathered about me fresh, shake the darkness out of me and then do something about my flesh.  My flesh is my human nature, unaided by God.

Do you sometimes wake up listening to the snake?  When you do, let George McDonald show you what to do about your unaided human nature.