Sunday, September 05, 2010

Thoughts on Psalm 23 Part 2

 In part one of my thoughts on Psalm 23, I talked about verses 1, 2 and 3.  In part two, I would like to finish discussing the rest of the psalm.

I know that in part one I talked about the fact that to me this psalm spoke about the calming influence of personally knowing God and His Son, Jesus in your life.  That when you are stressed, when you feel the chaos of the world closing in on you so much that you are apprehensive and afraid, that God calms you, restores your soul and allows you rest.  I still believe that this is part of what is said from this psalm.  But there is another part of this that speaks to me as well, and I wanted to share that with you, with the remaining verses.

Verse four is perhaps one of the most quoted verses of the Bible.  If you have ever been to a funeral, or seen one on T.V., or have read about one in a book, chances are you have read or heard the following:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psa 23:4)

We will all die someday.  It is a fact that one day, we will cast off these bodies of flesh and depart from this world into the next.  To most people, this is a frightening thought, a day looked upon with dread and fear.  Not so for the person who has that personal relationship with Christ.  For a true follower of Christ, one who has trusted his life, his eternal salvation to Jesus, that day is looked upon with longing and joy.  As Paul said, "to be absent from the body is to be with the Lord"!

When David was speaking of the "shadow of death,", what exactly was he speaking of?  In the original Hebrew, the term "shadow of death" was  צלמות (tsalmâveth pronounced tsal-maw'-veth) which meant
shade of death, that is, the grave (figuratively calamity): - shadow of death.
So I believe David meant the grave here.  David was not afraid to die, as he knew his God was with him, and not only that but God protected David as well. "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."  Imagine the sheep that a shepherd took care of.  The rod and staff of the shepherd was what was there normally to provide protection to the flock as well as help lead a wayward sheep or lamb back on the path with a gentle nudge.  This is what David is conveying here, I believe.

Then we come to verse five, which again I believe to have more than one meaning here, both in this life and the next.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. (Psa 23:5)
In biblical times when you were invited into a camp or house, you were the honored guest and as such you were afforded certain rules of hospitality.  One was that you were anointed with sweet smelling oil, as well as offered water to wash off the dust with.  Another was that even if you had enemies pursuing you, you would be protected and given food and drink.  Here we see that as David knew that God would provide for him, and believed that with all his heart, so should we believe that God will provide for us as well in this life.  And God provides for us in the next life as well, and this is even in the presence of our spiritual enemies, Satan and his demons.  Jesus himself said:
Joh 14:2-3 NASB  "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  (3)  "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
So if we are having places prepared for us, then doesn't it stand to reason that we will have tables, oil and cups prepared for us as well?  To be honest, I am both thrilled and overjoyed at this prospect!

Finally David ends his psalm with verse six.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.(Psa 23:6)
What a great message to us, especially in this chaotic day and age.   The word "surely" to me acts as a promise from God.  In all the days we live, from the happy, joyful days, to those days that are the blackest and darkest, God's goodness and lovingkindness (mercy in the King James Version) are there with us.  You can count on that.  And knowing that you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever, well, what more could you say. 

David's 23rd psalm is one of the most recognized and quoted from the Bible.  But when you hear it or read it, don't just think of it as mere words to be spoken or read; think of it as God's promise to David.  And to you.


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