Psalm 23! A bold selection of Scripture regarding faith in our Good Shepherd! In the last blog we covered the first seven declarations: “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want; He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters; He restores my soul. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and staff they comfort me.” There are four more declarations in this Psalm to clarify our beliefs, establish our response to them, and prayerfully create a desire to be His sheep – metaphorically speaking that is! As we go through these declarations, we must “proclaim” them rather than just “say” them in order to “hear” the authority and truth packed in these words, “feel” the power, own these decrees, and walk in total trust and confidence. We have a most powerful Shepherd!
Declaration eight – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” It is wonderful to know that our “Shepherd Lord” prepares a table before us meaning He provides anything and everything pertaining to our lives and godliness. It is not arranged in a secret place but in the very presence of our enemies. It is as though the Lord is reminding us He will never leave or forsake us even though our enemy prowls around in our presence like a roaring lion seeking to devour us. This does not faze our shepherd who is actively preparing a banquet for us while our enemy looks on. How exhilarating is it to picture our enemy completely frustrated, disturbed, and aggravated as he watches his perceived prey sitting down with everything prepared and provided for them by their precious shepherd?
In the original Hebrew language this phrase tells us our adversary is literally oppressed, persecuted, and feels he is being treated in a hostile manner when this table is prepared for us. Our submission to God gives us the knowledge and ability to resist the devil which causes him to flee because he does not like being oppressed, persecuted, or treated with hostility any more than we do. Can we grasp this truth? This table is prepared for us here on earth since we will have no enemies in heaven. Sitting down at the table God has prepared for us drives the devil crazy! Do we live in that reality? Do we partake of all the good that has been prepared and provided specially for us? If yes, then belly up and enjoy the feast! If not, why not start? All things are prepared? Are we?
Declaration nine – “You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” This anointing in Hebrew means to make us fat with the strength of the Lord. Just as our bones are made fat with marrow, this anointing literally causes us to be completely filled to capacity and then some with the strength of the Lord! What a beautiful picture of God pouring out and smearing into us His strength, making us so full that His strength spills over. This cup represents a vessel or receptacle containing His strength. However, there is such an abundance of this strength anointing we cannot contain it all therefore it runs over. Can we grasp the magnitude of His strength? Will we try? Do we stay under the flow of His anointing? Is our cup running over? He will do His part; will we do ours?
Declaration ten – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Surely this is a beautiful statement of faith and assurance! To be “sure” of something means we know it is definitely, unquestionably true with no doubt at all in our minds. It means we strongly believe something because we have good reason to believe it and we are completely confident that it will happen. David surely knew goodness and mercy would follow him with no doubt whatsoever in his mind. We can and should proclaim the same and it would be a good idea for us to start claiming this for ourselves every day of our lives. Goodness and mercy are powerful favors of God and we can count on Him to provide these as surely as He keeps all His promises!
Goodness and mercy include the kindness and compassion of God as He flows through us, continuously pouring into our lives. When we completely surrender our lives to our shepherd, hear His voice and follow Him we want for nothing; we will choose to live in the ample provision where He makes us lie down; we will allow Him to lead us to tranquility, peace, and happiness by the still waters; our minds, wills, and emotions will be restored in Him; we will fear no evil no matter what we face in life; we will be comforted in his protection and intimacy; we will belly up to a prepared table while the enemy watches; and we will receive His strength as He anoints us to overflowing.
After all this, we discover an amazing thing – goodness and mercy “shall follow” us! This literally means they pursue and earnestly follow after us! We do not pursue them – they pursue us! Ah! This is VERY GOOD NEWS! His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting! Psalm 103:17 “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children.”
David could make this bold declaration because he lived with the Lord as his shepherd with no other wants. He lived in His presence, followed Him where He led, and received all He provided. Did David make mistakes? Absolutely! But he always came back and learned how to stay in the place of safety and protection of His God! We are given the same opportunity daily to live with God and make these powerful declarations and then shout out “SURELY, without a doubt, I am absolutely 100% positive that the goodness and mercy of God will pursue and earnestly follow me every day of my life! “
We must not miss another important message in this verse – ALL the days of our lives! Up until we take our last breath here on earth goodness and mercy shall pursue us as we declare it over our lives, as we remain in submission to our shepherd and surrender to His lordship over our lives. Not only is mercy following us but it is never old or used – His mercies are new every morning and they pursue us each day! Lamentations 3:22-23 “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Do we witness His goodness and mercy following us each day? If not, do we bother to ask the question why not?
Declaration eleven – “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Not only do we have this promise of goodness and mercy following us all the days of our lives here on earth but we proudly and elatedly proclaim an everlasting dwelling with the Lord God! As we cleave to the truths of God in this Psalm we remember it is not just about life on earth but it is about our eternal life with the Lover of our soul! Psalm 27:4 “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” What a great and comforting truth to embrace in our lives each day! We “get” to dwell with God FOREVER!
We are strengthened by the Creator of the universe standing by our side; Immanuel, God with us; our good Shepherd leading, guiding, and protecting so that nothing shall by any means harm us. Do we really believe this? If we get first things first, only believe God and His Word, we will desire relationship with Him, press into His heart, worship Him, ponder, meditate, and memorize His Word to stay focused on Him. No one is more powerful than God. No one and nothing comes close to matching His power and authority! He is always with us, always ready to defend us, always ready to draw us close. Indeed! The Lord IS our shepherd! We shall not want!!!!! Take time now to declare Psalm 23 over your lives –But remember that Psalm 23 is not just a Psalm of Comfort! It is a Psalm of faith and trust in our good Shepherd. Proclaim it with authority, power, and victory! The comfort will come! But Psalm 23 is not just a Psalm of Comfort!