June 5, 2018
“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 King 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 and makes him lie down saying, “baa,” confessing that he is a sheep and the Lord is his Shepherd. It is his Shepherd Who makes David lie down where there are green pastures and 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 he ends his psalm:
“Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.”
Dick Woodward, from Psalm 23 Sheep Talk
March 13, 2018
“But the LORD said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1Kings 19:9)
Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. First Kings 18 reports one of the greatest days a prophet could possibly have when Elijah led the chosen people of God into a great and mighty revival. In response to his sermon, they shouted that they were going to put God first. As evidence of their fervent dedication to God they helped him get rid of 850 false prophets of wicked King Ahab and his depraved Queen Jezebel.
The very next day when Elijah received a message from Queen Jezebel that she was going to kill him, this great prophet ran into the wilderness then slumped down in exhausted despair under a broom bush tree where he asked God to kill him. God did not kill Elijah but He did answer his prayer. God fed him with supernatural bread then put him in a deep sleep. This gave Elijah the strength to travel to a cave where God asked him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
If this can happen to a great man of God, this can and does happen to all of us sooner or later. Elijah was having a pity party. With my severe physical limitations if I get anywhere near a pity party I immediately sink like a cannonball in a swimming pool! In East Africa there’s an oft repeated Swahili saying: “pole sana!” It means “poor pitiful you – poor one – so sorry for you!”
Writing as one who cannot survive a ‘pole sane’ pity party I warn you to flee this temptation like a plague. It’s a blueprint for a burnout. If this finds you having a pity party let God ask you: “What are you doing here?
Dick Woodward, 28 March 2011
September 12, 2013
“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness…” (Psalm 23: 3)
What is considered by some to be the greatest chapter in the Bible is the best description ever written of what the relationship of a human being with God can be. I call this psalm “Sheep Talk” because it’s like a sheep is telling us what a great Shepherd he has. The opening statement of the sheep is the key to the relationship. When the Lord is his Shepherd he has multiple blessings. According to the second verse this relationship is established when his Shepherd makes him lie down. When he gets up again he loses those blessings.
He is telling us this has happened and he needs a spiritual comeback. The prescription for his comeback is that his Shepherd leads him in the paths of righteousness. This is the second time he uses the word “leads.” His Shepherd not only leads him beside still waters but when he needs restoration he is led in the paths of righteousness. The second time he uses this word it is a Hebrew word for “drives me” into what is right.
By application, when we need a comeback we should not seek a cheap one. We should cooperate with our Shepherd as He drives us into the paths of what is right, perhaps for several years, until He restores our soul. I personally experienced this kind of comeback in the early eighties that lasted nearly a decade.
Rick Warren said “We’re all in recovery. What do you think the word ‘salvation’ means?” Do you need a spiritual comeback? Don’t look for a cheap one. Ask God to show you the paths of righteousness that will restore your soul.