The Lord Leads Us
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.
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.
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 forever.
Psalm 23 is probably the most famous of all the Psalms. It is easy to see why. It is so poetic and beautiful to read. It also resonates with everyone who reads it, especially if they are going through their own valley! 2020 has been a valley for many of us.
Thankfully, we have not seen the projected death tolls that were predicted in the beginning of Covid-19, but the effects have still been devastating. Some small businesses didn’t survive the shut down time and many lost their jobs. Families with school aged kids are going through the hardest season of their lives having to figure out how to do distant learning. This has been equally hard for both parents, kids, and teachers in our families' experience.
Then you have the devastating Alameda and South Obenchain fires that ripped through our valley a few weeks ago. So many people lost so much! I drove through Phoenix and Talent the other day along with Butte Falls Hwy just to see the devastation with my own eyes. Seeing people sifting through the ashes of what was their life was so very heartbreaking.
However, through all this difficulty Psalms 23 reminds us that God is with us and is leading us through both the good and the bad. David reminds us that the Lord leads us in four ways.
First, the Lord leads us to what is good. This section is the largest of this short Psalm. The Lord leads us to green pastures and still waters. He provides for our needs. We as a community have seen this first hand through the fires in our valley. God moved through His people and in the hearts of others to provide for the needs of those who had lost everything. From all accounts one of the problems people are facing is who to best direct all the donations coming in!
The Lord also restores our souls and leads us in righteousness. The Lord alone is the one who can restore our soul. He continually redirects us to himself. He longs to fill us with his goodness and his peace. This is what we all want and know we need but like sheep, we tend to look for it in the wrong places. But when we find it in Jesus we are truly satisfied (Matthew 5:6).
Second, the Lord leads us into and through the dark and scary things in our lives. The fires we all suffered a few weeks ago were truly terrifying. Many people were truly surprised by how low the death toll was in Phoenix, because of how fast the fire was moving. One of the families my wife helped out (who had lost their home) had the back bumper of their car melted from escaping the fire!
What David reminds us of is (as Christians) when we face these scary situations in life, we don’t have to give into fear. Fear is a normal response to a raging fire that is devouring all you know and love, but when the smoke clears we can trust in Him who has led us here!
Third, the Lord leads us to victory over our enemies. David was talking about his human enemies, possibly Saul or his son Absalom who tried later to kill him and take his kingdom. But for us this is referring to our great enemy the Devil. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Jesus gave us victory when he lived the life we are supposed to live, died the death we deserve to die, and rose from the dead defeating Satan, sin, and death. So that, if we put our trust in Him, we will have everlasting life!
Fourth, the Lord leads us to an eternal hope! No matter how bad things get here in this life we have a future and a hope in Jesus. An inheritance that is impervious to corruption or decay (1 Peter 1:1-4). This is the truth that kept David going during the most difficult times of his life. And it is the truth that keeps us going too!
We will all see days that we wished had never come. We will all know pain and sorrow that we can’t escape, but we can know that our Lord is leading us into it and through it, which stabilizes us in the mist of it. Because, we have the hope that only comes from Jesus. The hope of eternal life!
May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,