August 10, 2008

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August 10, 2008

Post by millipede » Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:50 pm

Psalm 23
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

I've often wondered why this passage is so famous, why so many people know and love this verse above so many others. I mean, the bible is FULL of good stuff. Plenty of other verses that talk about the same things.
Another thing I wonder about is why people focus on this passage when facing a trial or hardship. You even see it on tv and movies, people repeat this passage as if it will protect them somehow. To me, this passage isn't about God protecting us in times of trouble. I mean, that is part of it but there is more to it.

What I'd like to start with is the first line. "the Lord is my shepherd".
God is referred to as a shepherd many times throughout the bible, and we are referred to as sheep. Shepherds lead, and sheep follow. I'll be honest here, we don't always follow so well... and we don't always look to God as our shepherd.
Still in verse 1 "I shall not want". What? Look around us. For many of us, that's a joke. We want so much. It is worse in privileged countries where people become spoiled. It is programmed into us to want more and more and more. And so we do.
Now, I believe the verse means that since God is our shepherd and He is taking care of us, we will not need anything else... and therefore, will have no wants. I believe the verse is indeed speaking more of what God provides than of how we should feel, but at the same time I can't help but look at how we feel... and how we should act. We have all we need in Christ, and God provides so much for us already... We really should not be found wanting.

Verse 2: green pastures and still waters. Sounds nice doesn't it? God does lead us to such places. Both figurative and literal. We may often find ourselves in less appealing places(figurative and literal) but quite often those places, we lead ourselves there.
Verses 1-3, just remember to follow the shepherd since we are but lost and confused sheep.

Next we have the valley of the shadow of death. Sounds so scary, and yet "I will fear no evil"
Well, we do know that God has not given us a spirit of fear... but again, to be honest... many of us feel fear quite often.
His rod and His staff comfort us? A rod, comforting? How? Well, He's the shepherd. I believe many of us picture shepherds holding a staff. I do believe one good use for such a tool is to defend the flock from predators. Which to me explains the next verse just fine, how He prepares a feast for us IN the presence of our enemies.
Shepherds lead their flocks to green pastures, and still waters. They make sure they are well fed. All around, there may be enemies. Sheep have many. Yet, that shepherd is there to protect and guide.

Anyway, I think this passage is one we need to really think about in times when we are not afraid and not facing trials. Many people recite it when they are indeed afraid, or wanting.
Study it and think about ALL it implies during times when you are not facing trouble. Then when life does get hard you will already be standing firm on those words. You can still recite them, but this time it wont be in fear. You wont be reciting them hoping they'll protect or comfort you... perhaps to reassure you though.
I'm not sure how much of that makes sense to anyone else... I just wanted to say that if you study and learn that you are taken care of and have no need for fear, study it and understand not only that it is fact but exactly how it is fact... Then when those trials come, you will be ready. And those trials will come.

Dear Lord I just thank you for being our shepherd. Just like sheep, we need to be led. Just like sheep, we need protection. Thank you for leading us and teaching us, and thank you for your constant protection.

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