Psalms 23:1-3 ESV
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is my shepherd, my pastor, my friend, and my companion. He is my teacher, my counselor, my wisdom, and my guide. He is my life, my salvation, my hope, and my joy. He is my purpose. He is my everything! Without him I would be lost forever.
Because he is my shepherd, my Savior, and my Lord, I am not in need of anything. He provides all that I need. I am not lacking in any good thing. I am fully satisfied with the riches of his salvation and the joy of life everlasting with him. And all that I have belongs to him.
The Lord makes us to lie down in green pastures. He created us to put our trust in him. We can rest secure because he is our shepherd. We don’t have to fear the enemy because our Shepherd is watching over us. He is caring for us, so we can rest in him.
Nothing in this world is more peaceful to me than the quiet flow of a stream or of a gentle waterfall. We are blessed to live in an apartment building with a gentle flowing creek behind us. It is mostly covered by the leaves in the summer, but now that the leaves are falling, we are able to see it again.
I love to just listen to the sound of the water in our creek, but I also love to watch it flow over the rocks. It is so peaceful, and it is lovely. So, this is a beautiful image to me of resting in Jesus and of finding our peace and joy in him. No worries! Just peace!
If we were being tempted to fear or to worry or to be stressed out over our circumstances or over our relationships with other people, or if the enemy is throwing darts of fear our way, when we put our trust in the Lord and we rest in him, he restores our souls to peace.
But this isn’t just about bodily rest and relaxation or absence of fear and worry. When we put our trust and our rest in Jesus Christ, he leads us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. He leads us in the way of godliness, holiness, integrity, honor, love, and faithfulness.
Psalms 23:4 ESV
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.”
I remember years ago the first time I had an MRI. No one had warned me ahead of time of what to expect. So, when they put me inside that machine it felt like someone had put me inside a casket and had closed the lid, and there was no way out, and I did begin to panic.
My first response, back then, was to joke about it. So, I said, “It is a good thing I am not claustrophobic.” But I was! I was fearful then of being in closed or narrow spaces, which I believed to be a result of being abused as a child. But then I began to quote Psalms 23:4 over and over again.
And then the peace came because I was replacing my fear with trust in my Lord. Even though I was feeling fearful, I chose not to succumb to the fear, but to exercise my faith in my Lord, instead. Even though I felt I was walking through the valley of death, I did not fear, for God was with me.
And now, when I begin to be tempted to fear, I quote Scriptures or I sing songs of praise to the Lord, and I pray, and I put on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against me, and then the peace comes, and I do not let up until the peace comes, either.
To me, that “valley of the shadow of death” is anything that attacks me in my spirit, that might unhinge me, that involves persecutions, false accusations, and rejections, etc. It is when Satan is trying to get me to be afraid that I must not fear, for my Lord is with me, and he is my comfort.
Psalms 23:5-6 ESV
“You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Even though other human beings may reject, persecute, abuse, falsely accuse, and attack us; even though they may try to trick us and to trip us up with our words; and even though they may sin against us and plot evil against us because they hate us, we can be at peace.
If we are following Jesus with our lives, doing what he says to do as a matter of practice (lifestyle, commitment), we can be at peace even in the midst of much turmoil. For, our Lord is our comfort and our support. He is our aid. And he is our defense.
Therefore, our enemies see that their attempts to undo us are not successful. They see that, although they try to get us to fail, that we remain faithful to our Lord, and that we keep praising his name. But all the glory goes to God, for we can only be faithful because of his love and grace.
Even though Satan tried many times to get us to give up and to run away, or he tried to convince us that we were nothing of value or that we had nothing to offer, perhaps because of our past, or because we are female, or because we were old or we were young, God is still using us. Amen!
For, the Lord doesn’t choose like humans do. I recall here that Jesus was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with suffering. So, lack of human approval doesn’t mean God can’t use us. For he will use anyone committed to him.
So, the world or the worldly church may toss us aside, and they may reject us and see us as worthless, but in their presence God will use us for his glory if we are willing and if we will submit to his purposes and do what he says. For, following him assures us the rejection of humans.
So, we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We put our trust in him fully. We rest in him and in his love. We pray for our enemies. We do good to those who despitefully use us. And we keep on serving our Lord despite all opposition. We keep on loving, even if that love is returned with hate or snubbing.
For, our Lord is good. And he has a plan for each of us. And it is his desire that we should all follow him in obedience, and that we let him lead us to where he wants us to go. And we will dwell with him forever. Amen!
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Hymn lyrics and music by Helen H. Lemmel, 1922
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!
His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.