Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reflective Wednesday

This past weekend I had the opportunity to lead a meditation and response on Psalm 23.  Today I thought I'd go ahead and share it with you.  Special thanks to  If you haven't used it before it's a great resource for online bible translations and commentaries.  Matthew Henry's commentary was especially helpful and it is quoted below.

Psalm 23 A psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
  • Truth is we live under a yoke of thinking we lack. The kingdom of this world, the enemy, and the flesh constantly nag us that we are lacking, desperate. Yet here David offers that in the shepherds care, we come to abide in a kingdom of plenty and provision. In Christ, we are coming under our shepherd's care as the new man learns to trust, “If I have not every thing I desire, I may conclude it is either not fit for me or not good for me or I shall have it in due time.” (Matthew Henry commentary)

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
  • To be loved and cared for is to learn limitations, our need for restoration and replenishment. Our internal storms must be calmed and quieted in His presence. The Lord is the fountain of life and his filling has surplus to overflow from within. We must yield to the circumstances and ways in which our Shepherd gets each of us to lie down. He knows his sheep and what each one of us needs to come into this green pasture. Matthew Henry’s commentary says, “God makes his saints to lie down; he gives them quiet and contentment in their own minds, what ever their lot is; their souls dwell at ease in him, and that makes every pasture green.”

he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
The safety of the Psalm is we are sheep in the Shepherd's care.  Sheep are infamous for losing there way, mature saints realize their propensity to do this yet it is this very awareness that brings comfort because they have come to know and trust the Shepherd is always there, restoring them back as they respond to His correction and guidance, gaining their footing back onto the path of life. The security lies in the Good Shepherd and His constant pursuit. Which leads to.....

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.
Each of us will walk our own Valley of the Shadow of Death, there are similar components for all--hurt, rejection, fear, sorrow, anguish, despair, abandonment--yet the nuances of the terrain are unique based on the backstory of our lives and the blows to which these deaths have come. The strength, comfort, and resurrection power come from the rod--- used to fight wild animals who tried to scatter and worry the sheep---and the staff to direct us, His flock. 

It is a comfort to the saints, when they come to die (whether literal death or the deaths that happen as “we die to the old life that we might live”) that God sees them, knows them, is literally by their side to support them--he will rebuke the enemy, that he will guide them with his staff and sustain them with his rod.
Here the metaphor shifts into celebration and provision, in the most unlikely of places, the valley of death. Note in the presence of the battle and before our enemies, the lavish love is poured out.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
The Shepherd carefully and thoughtfully made provision. He had prepared the way and lavishly provided a feast. Anointing refers to a calling or appointed place. I wonder if it isn’t in our valleys, that dark place, that God prepares the table and anoints us into our Kingdom calling and new identity in Him.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
We end in abundance, safety, and love. We nestle into the Shepherd's strength and dwell in the safety of that new home--both within and to come.

Ask the Lord what causes you to scatter rather than stay at His side?  Why do you think you wander away? Think of a specific area in your heart that is prone to wander.
You may want to draw a picture of the metaphor of Psalm 23. Try inserting symbolic images, words, circumstances, and the place you see yourself in the picture. Are you sitting by the stream? Scattered off? Where is the Shepherd?
What unbelief about the Shepherd is coming up in this meditation? (an area you don’t really believe He cares about, will provide in, or lead you into safe pastures and abundance?). Confess only what has been illuminated. 
Now, ask Him to bring His rod and staff into that heart place. 
Jesus, where are you? Reveal your Shepherd’s heart here. 
Jesus, what do you want to say here? Write down what you think He’s saying. Even if it feels awkward. The Spirit has loads of room to confirm and expand this truth.
Close your eyes and imagine looking into His eyes, what do you see? Now, read verses 5 and 6 again as though Jesus is saying it to you.  Sit in the stillness and wait, wait as the Shepherd comes for you in His way, His timing, and His loving way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the illustrations and your responses... there's
much to be thankful for, especially at this time of year.