by John Cox – Originally published in Our Journey by Walk in the Word
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.
Have you ever noticed that the path you are on looks nothing like the one you started on at the beginning of your life? Sometimes the journey has led you places of great joy, but many times the journey leads to a place of pain and death. You may ask, “How did I get here?” Our immediate thought when life is hard is we made a poor decision. So we ask, “Where did I go wrong?” If you are walking with Christ, it’s possible you didn’t go wrong. And if you did, God can redeem every decision we make, if we let Him.
Psalm 23 is not about three different places; it is about a journey through and to them. David began in the comfort of the pasture, but found himself in the valley of the shadow of death. However, he is still traveling the same path. Though he felt the world crowding in and his enemies seeking to devour him, David looked down at his feet and saw a path of righteousness.
When life is hard, we must know that it was not just “us” who got there; it was God who allowed it or led us there. God is not surprised and nothing we do can compromise His will. Though God chooses the hard things in life to form us into His likeness, we always have His protection when we are on the path of righteousness, living in Him, and following His ways. There is nothing to fear because we have the comfort of knowing where we are is God’s plan. However difficult, He can redeem it!
When we sit at the table of our enemies and face their demonic banter, we have nothing to fear, for we drink from a cup that overflows with goodness and mercy. Remember, though we may be in “enemy territory,” it is all God’s. They can do their worse, but their worst cannot pry away the rod of the Shepherd who protects us.
Though our journey began in the comfort of a pasture, and led us to the switchbacks of this dark world, we know what waits at the top of the mountain. The dwelling place of the Lord! When you feel lost, look at your path, and know that though it is hard it is essential, for it is the path God is using to guide you to His sin-free home forever.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.” What are the “sinful wants” of my life that tempt me to step off the path of righteousness?
- What was the hardest time of my life and what righteousness did God produce through it?
Father , may I never forget Your guiding hand when I feel the attacks of this world. Protect me from the siren call of sin as it tempts me to step off the path You have given me to walk. May its hardness not cause me to forget the goodness You give me today and the eternal joy that awaits me forever. For it is Your plan to guide me through the earthly pain to live in Your eternal pleasure. Amen.