Fix your eyes on Jesus, your Good Shepherd.
Through Lloyd Stilley on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 at 6:00 AM
There are locations in 23rd psalm Scripture which can be powerful, so deep, that to recite them is to experience them. Psalm 23 is one of these places. As one student said, “The psalm itself is inexperienced pasture; the psalm itself is still water; the psalm itself restores my soul.” Hear it once more in the joyous voice of a toddler, with a touch assist from dad.
Psalm 23 may be very private. There are no references to “we” or “us” or “they,” however best “my” and “me” and “I” and “You.” This is David’s testimony, his non-public enjoy with God. I and different pastors have come to this passage in nearly each funeral preached. It is precious to us, a balm to our wounded souls. And what makes this a constant pal is that it covers all of existence. With easy beauty, it speaks of green pastures and nonetheless waters as well as darkish valleys and enemies and adversities.
But what comforts us and helps us is the psalm’s self assurance. David genuinely believes this about God. We recognize as we linger over those words that what David writes is not poetic exaggeration or theoretical theology. He has skilled God in those approaches, heard His voice, accompanied His lead, felt His care. Beneath the beauty of his words there are solid convictions, fashioned within the crucible of disaster.
I purpose I recognize these items to be so about a person who wrote a thousand years before Christ is due to the fact he has left us clues right here in this psalm. Notice that inside the first 3 verses, David refers to God in the 1/3 person: “The Lord is my Shepherd. He makes me lie down . . . He leads me . . . He restores my soul.”
Then, in v. Four-five, David shifts, referring to Him in 2nd man or woman: “I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your body of workers, they consolation me. You put together a table earlier than me . . . You anoint my head with oil.” And then, he closes through returning to third character: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all of the days of my existence, and I shall dwell inside the residence of the Lord all the time.”
Why does David transfer from speakme approximately God with ‘He’ to talking to God with ‘You,’ and why does it manifest in v. 4? Why did not he simply move on to say, ‘Even though I stroll via the valley of the shadow of loss of life, I will fear no evil, for He is with me; His rod and His staff, they consolation me’?”
May I recommend that the change “He” to the more intimate “You” happens in v. Four precisely as it’s there he speaks of the valley he has walked. He has felt the shadows closing in. Verse 4 describes the crisis factors in his lifestyles. And in the ones times, something deep took place among him and God.
You’ve observed it too, have not you? We’re extra inclined to speak about God whilst we’re in the inexperienced pastures and greater susceptible to talk to God while we are in the damaging ravine. In the light, we’re prone to get lost in pursuit of greener grass. But in the darkish, we hug His knee.
David adjustments from remarks approximately God to communion with God due to the fact throughout his valley time, he stayed ever so close to the Shepherd, in no way taking his eyes of Him. He had skilled God in a way there that had ushered him toward intimacy with the Almighty Shepherd.
As we preserve our study of psalms for whilst life hurts, I invite you to a acquainted oasis wherein we are able to see that God is nearer than you believe you studied in instances of disaster. My prayer this morning is that God so imprint His fact on your coronary heart that you’ll locate your confidence in Him rise above the typhoon clouds in your lifestyles, while David did. Take some moments with me this morning to see David’s confidence in instances of disaster.
I. God permits time within the valley
In the first four verses of Ps. 23, David takes the mild photo of a shepherd along with his sheep to describe the relationship God has with us and we with Him. Everything makes feel in our expertise of a shepherd main his flock to inexperienced grass and calm waters. Then we get to v. Four, and it doesn’t suit. The valley of the shadow of death conjures mind of a risky situation in which a sheep’s lifestyles is in jeopardy except the shepherd is alert and attentive.
But why might a sheep be going through such a place? Not due to the fact he strayed off in sin; that is not the factor right here, due to the fact the shepherd is pictured as going with the sheep now not snatching him again to the pasture he left in the back of. No, the motive the sheep is going through the valley is because the shepherd lead him there.
The connection between vs. Three and four confirm this: The path via the valley is likewise one of the paths of righteousness wherein God leads. “He courses me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death, I will worry no evil, for You are with me . . . ”
But why would an awesome shepherd who could lay down his lifestyles for his sheep lead a lamb right into a valley filled with threat and death threats? There’s handiest one feasible solution: “To get to a few higher vicinity!” Philip Keller is an Australian shepherd whose awesome little book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 consists of this statement about these barren valleys:
“The shepherd is aware of from beyond experience that predators like coyotes, bears, wolves, or cougars can take cowl in these broken cliffs and from their vantage point prey on his flock. He is aware of those valleys may be difficulty to surprising storms and flash floods that send walls of water rampaging down the slopes. There will be rockslides, dust, or . . . A dozen other herbal screw ups that could spoil or injure his sheep. But regardless of such dangers he also knows that that is nonetheless the fine way to take his flock to the excessive united states of america. He spares himself no pains or trouble or time to keep a watch out for any risk that would expand.”
When you are walking thru some unfamiliar valley and the shadows linger . . . When you’ve got most cancers and must decide whether it’ll be chemotherapy or some other way . . . When you are seeking to determine as a count number of Godly stewardship whether or not to take your cash out of the marketplace or let it experience… When your finances are tight, and you are taking on yet any other job to make ends meet, recollect this:
Your Shepherd has appointed even this difficult time as considered one of His paths of righteousness. He is leading you thru this valley for reasons that possibly won’t be apparent. But rest confident, He is taking you to the excessive us of a, in which the solar is warm and the grass is luxurious. Every valley is pathway to something higher. As Psalm 84:11 says, “No desirable does the Lord withhold from folks that stroll uprightly.” Or as Paul put it, “We know that for people who love God all things paintings together for precise, for individuals who are referred to as consistent with his cause.” (Rom . Eight:28). The valley isn’t desirable, but the Shepherd is. He knows the way.
II. The Shepherd has you blanketed
David tells us a way to be fearless in adversity. He tells us that even inside the valley of the shadow of demise, he didn’t dread the distress he could face or recoil inside the face of disaster. How do you combat fear when you do not know what is going to appear subsequent and your creativeness is working time beyond regulation ? How did David do it? David tells us his self assurance came from 3 sources:
A. He stayed in God’s presence
In v. 4, David says, “Even 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 body of workers, they comfort me.” First, he speaks of God’s nearness, His presence. When you step into your valley, and it is so darkish you cannot even see the path beforehand, and also you the opportunity that there are predators and enemies laying in watch for you, your Shepherd has something He wants you to pay attention: I can be with you. Don’t turn to tablets or hotel to drink or find a few other replacement that you think will assist you gedt through this valley. All you want is your Shepherd.
Hebrews thirteen:5b-6 says it like this: “He has said, “I will in no way depart you nor forsake you.” So we can with a bit of luck say, “The Lord is my helper; I will no longer worry; what can man do to me?”
Writer Kenneth Wilson tells of developing up in Pittsburgh. “That house wherein we lived at the side of one in every of Pittsburgh’s hills become 3 stories excessive in the the front and 4 within the lower back. The backside layer turned into the cellar and the top changed into what we referred to as the 1/3 floor, truely a finished attic, the ceiling of which was cut into shadowed geometric shapes by means of dormer windows. Up there have been two bedrooms, a hallway, and a mysterious garage room for trunks that continually smelled of mothballs and history. Our own family slept there, because the second one ground turned into generally rented out for a tenant to help pay the rent.
What became unnerving for Kenneth become that, as the youngest, he needed to go to bed first, braving that ground of dark bedrooms. “That bed in that room on the 0.33 floor regarded to be at the stop of the earth, far flung from human habitation, near unexplained noises and darkish secrets.
At my urging, my father could attempt to prevent the windows from damn, wedging timber matchsticks into the cracks. But they always rattled despite his efforts. Sometimes he would study me a tale, however unavoidably the time could come whilst he would flip out the mild and close the door, and I could hear his steps on the steps, growing fainter and fainter. Then all might be quiet, except for the rattling windows and my cowering imagination.
Once, I recollect, my father said, “Would you alternatively I leave the light on and pass downstairs, or flip the light out and live with you for awhile?” . . . [I chose] presence with darkness, over absence with light. Isn’t that not what we really want most in our valleys—the assurance that Someone is there? Kenneth L. Wilson, Have Faith without Fear (Harper & Row, 1970), p. Fifty four; from Timothy K Jones, Prayer’s Apprentice (Word, forthcoming)
There isn’t any valley, irrespective of how dark, that you’ll undergo alone. He will not leave you.
B. He noticed God’s electricity
A shepherd’s rod become a two-foot membership fabricated from oak, with a rounded head that changed into whittled from the knot of the tree and had sharp bits of metal pounded into it. This club changed into used to shield the flock towards assaults. It images the shepherd’s electricity, wielded towards overpowering enemies. David said he had no fear in adversity due to the consolation of God’s strength, defensive him from that which would spoil him. And you need no longer worry. Greater is he this is in you than he that is within the world. (1 John four:four).
C. He experienced God’s main
Your body of workers . . . Comforts me, he stated. He changed into relating to the shepherd’s criminal, with its hook on one stop. A good shepherd would use it to guide the sheep, lest they stray away. Just a mild tap of the workforce on a lamb’s side could pass them returned inside the fold. And the criminal ought to accumulate up a sheep from a place in which it would have fallen. David felt comforted that his Shepherd become guarding his steps, ensuring that he makes it thru the darkness thoroughly.
David changed into supremely confident, not most effective approximately his gift instances, but of grace inside the future that might see him all of the way domestic. He believed that valley times have been appointed for His appropriate. He learned things approximately God that might be learned no other manner in the deep ravines of existence. He stayed near, depended on in God’s protection and steerage all of the manner. All due to the fact he should say, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
Oh my buddy, while you find yourself susceptible, inside the dark, uncertain of the destiny. When all the colour has drained out of lifestyles, and your soul is downcast, appearance up. Fix your eyes on Jesus, your Good Shepherd. Stick near Him. Trust that He is aware of the way via this valley and will see you correctly thru. Believe that He has top reasons for taking this direction, although it is hard and surprising. And maintain on to the reality that there is some thing better waiting on the opposite facet of this valley.
Lloyd Stilley is pastor of First Baptist Church, Gulf Shores, Alabama. He is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Leeanne and is the father of Joey and Craig.
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