1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Goodness and Mercy
How has your week been?
No, honestly, how has your week been?
On any given week, my honest answer is “good and bad.” I can almost always count on some great things happening throughout a week (like good conversations with friends, fun with my family, or being outside on a beautiful day), and I can almost always count on some terrible things happening throughout a week (like really letting down a close friend, fighting with my family, or feeling weighed down by the world’s troubles). So, what about you? What are the good things and what are the bad things that you’ve experienced this week?
I love turning to the psalms when I’m in the middle of a good v. bad “wrestling match.” So often, the authors speak to both sides. They praise God in one verse and then talk about how down-heartened they are the next. Even here, in Psalm 23, one of the most well-known psalms of our time, David wrote about both the good and the bad things of life.
First, the bad news: David talked about walking through the valley of the shadow of death, evil all around, and enemies looming. These are things we sometimes hope we won’t have to deal with as Christians. But Jesus makes it pretty clear that following him does not give us a free pass on the troubles of this life (John 16:33). In fact, we will likely face more trouble by following him than if we would just go with the flow of the world (Matthew 24:9, 1 Peter 4:12-13).
So, where did David get his hope even in the midst of these terrible things? Where do we get our hope in the midst of our terrible things?
Here’s the good news: David trusted that God would take care of him, no matter what the circumstances may be. He called the Lord his Shepherd, the one who took care of his every need, from food and water to rest, guidance and blessing. There’s no doubt that David experienced God’s care for him in the story of his life, enabling him to make such confident statements. If God had proved himself faithful in taking care of David’s every need, David had no need to be anxious, even when the bad things would come.
Here’s the good news for you and me: Jesus declared, “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11a, 14a). In ways that we cannot even fully comprehend, Jesus takes care of us. He leads us, guides us, protects us and blesses us. And because of his great love for us, he even laid down his life for us (John 10:11b). Jesus proved himself faithful in taking care of our most desperate need–being forgiven and being made right with God. Since Jesus did this, we have no need to be anxious, even when bad things come.
With David and many other people of God who have come before us, we can confidently say (no matter what may come), “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
Jesus, thank you for being my Shepherd and for taking care of me in good ways that I cannot even fully understand. I look forward to the day when you will take me to your house to live forever. Amen.