Who's Following You?

Psalm 23:6
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

When you look over your shoulder, what do you see? Do you see a shadowy figure in a trench coat and fedora?

Not me. I see goodness and love. Why? Because the Lord is my shepherd. God goes before me to clear my path. He walks beside me to lead and encourage me. Also… he’s got my back.

The Lord sends his angels to encamp around me. The Lord surrounds me with his love. I walk in peace. When I look over my shoulder, I don’t see darkness chasing after me. I see goodness and love chasing after me.

Shepherd and Provider

Psalm 23:5
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

If the Lord is my shepherd and I am his sheep, I can eat the sweet green grass even if a wolf is standing there watching. I know I’m protected.

As a child of the Almighty Father, I see this verse as a description of God as my provider. I will always have access to abundance because my Father created the universe. He’s not running out of anything.

Eating in the presence of enemies is a picture of protected triumph. Being anointed with oil is associated with power from God. Overflow is abundance.

Protected triumph, power from God, and abundance all show me parts of what God wants in my relationship with him. He wants me to walk confidently with him, aware of his protection. He wants me to walk boldly with him, knowing I can do anything he asks of me – even if it takes his power to complete it. He wants me to walk in generosity with him, knowing I have plenty to give – even if it comes out of his pocket.

I love reading this verse because of the encouragement I get from it. I hope you’re encouraged too.

From Darkest to Brightest

Psalm 23:4
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.

When I walk through the darkest of valleys in my life, am I required to fear?

I think not.

If a child is awakened by a wild thunderstorm and he runs to scoot into his parents’ bed, why is his location a factor in his ability to sleep? The storm is still raging whether he’s in his bed or his parents’ bed. The parents aren’t making the storm stop.

When the child runs to his parents and feels their presence, the storm isn’t as scary and sleep comes more quickly. Just being with his parents makes him feel better.

We can run to God and feel his presence when we are in our dark valleys. We don’t have to fear the shadow of anything. He will comfort us and turn our dark hours into bright and glorious moments with him.

How the Shepherd Guides

Psalm 23:3b
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

The Lord is my shepherd. And because I am his sheep, I listen for the peaceful voice of the shepherd. He calls to his sheep to guide them to the right paths.

In the book of John, the picture of sheep following the shepherd is displayed. I love reading about a loving shepherd taking care of his sheep. It evokes a sense of peace and an awareness of his presence, a comfort that is a necessary part of the day for those who live in today’s world.

John 10:4 reminds us that “his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” They know his voice because they’re around him a lot and hear his voice often. They know his voice because they are his.

I used to live in the country. On several occasions, I saw a cow eating grass on the side of the road. I knew that cow belonged to someone and wouldn’t be there very long. The owner would be there soon to put the cow back in the pasture and would fix the fence so it wouldn’t get out again. The owner would risk his life to get the cow away from the highway.

Jesus is like the owner of that cow. If his sheep wander away from where they’re supposed to be, he guides them back home, back in the paths of righteousness.

It’s good to know that the Lord is my shepherd. And he lays his life down for the sheep. And his sheep follow him because they love his voice.

From Tormented to Restored

Psalm 23:3a
He restores my soul.

These days, we put so much on ourselves. We think we have to be involved in everything – more than what is necessary. We pile up undue stress and pressure and heap problems on ourselves with the attitude that we can do it all.

We can’t.

We were never designed to handle it all. We were designed to be a small piece to a global puzzle. Even in our local communities, we’re a small part of the natural rhythm. God gave us gifts that work in relationship with others. None of us has everything he needs because, by God’s plan, we need each other.

In this culture, many parents are tearing their hair out trying to provide everything for their kids, everything for their spouse, and everything for themselves. What about discipline? I think it’s okay to not have every toy your child wants. It’s okay to give inexpensive gifts instead of going into debt.

Why do we fill our soul with needless sorrows because of an ad on the TV?

If my soul has been damaged through the torment of life, I can go to the Lord.

The Lord is my shepherd. He sees my need for restoration. He can restore me to the flock if he needs to, and he can restore my soul.

A restored soul is a soul filled with peace.