23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh
me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will
fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest
my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow
me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
was a man with a warrior's heart, but he was also a shepherd in his youth. All
boys in the Middle East and Africa, during David's era, would have to take their
turn herding the sheep and goats. So, the fact that David was a shepherd was nothing
the tenderness of David's heart is very precious, and God used it to bless Israel.
It is well known that really manly men are gentle. When you hear men talking tough
and showing their hate for other people-- when you hear men making threats and
flipping knives out in the church foyer-- you are in the presence of cowards.
Real men have the spirit of David.
in the above Psalm, shows how sweet it is to follow the Eternal Shepherd, and
the progression is instructive. In Verse 1 David says he has no "want."
This is not the aspect of greed, as we would mean it today. This "want"
speaks of lack of something. God provides all we need.
in verse 2, David speaks of God's provision through life. Green pastures speak
of the feast provided in God's Word. Read Psalm 119, and you will see how deep
the green pasture is, and you will see how refreshing the still water.
3 speaks of the spiritual life where the Shepherd restores the soul and leads
David along paths of righteousness. If we recall the experience of David with
Bath Sheba, and the restoration David found after his confession of sin in Psalm
51, we see how merciful our Shepherd is. We tend to be a lot more harsh on the
sinner than our Lord, so we must always seek out the Lord when we need restoration.
4 talks, not about death, but about the journeys of life which lead through peril.
The key word is "through." The Shepherd leads, or follows. "Follow
me, and I will make you fishers of men." "....thine ears shall hear
a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the
right hand, and when ye turn to the left." So, whether our Shepherd is leading
or following, it is with the rod of comfort in his hand which sustains us.
a lamb is stumbling along in a dangerous place, the shepherd will reach forward
with the staff and steady the lamb so it does not fall off the edge of the path.
This is the picture David gives us. This is NOT the rod of discipline. Bombastic
preachers love to tell you that every time you are in the valley of the shadow
of death that you must have been naughty and need the rod. Bah. The rod is a comfort
to faltering sheep.
5 moves into something suddenly somber. War! The enemy is on every side, and a
table is set for dinner. What a strange picture. But, many stories are told of
missionaries and Christians who found their enemy feeding them. There is a time
when the enemy is stilled by the miraculous hand of God, and instead of a blood
bath, the feast comes forth.
I was in grade school in a missionary kids' school in Africa, the Mau Mau terrorist
era was in full force in Kenya. Our school was in the highlands and was virtually
surrounded by devil possessed man, oath bound, who planned to eventually kill
us all. But, every day we had three square meals, and we went to school, and when
the Mau Mau were finally defeated, no missionaries or kids were killed or hurt.
I did step on a piece of barbed wire one day and got cut, but I did not miss one
meal during the whole era.
were guarded night and day be a contingent of the King's African Rifles, about
thirty soldiers. They were a tough lot, with two British officers and the rest
Africans. But, God was our defender. I say that for this reason....
day the soldiers caught a Mau Mau terrorist up in the forest. They interrogated
him, and he talked freely. The British officer asked him about a rumor that a
couple thousand Mau Mau had earlier massed above the mission station with the
intention of massacring all the missionaries and us kids. The Mau Mau man told
the British officer that they did indeed mass there for the attack. The officer
asked the Mau Mau man why they did not attack. They would have easily killed all
of us and the soldiers, in spite of the bunkers and barbed wire enclosure.
Mau Mau man told the British officer, "We became terrified when we saw your
soldiers." The officer told him that there were no soldiers up on the north
side of the mission station. The Mau Mau man then said, "We saw them. They
were huge, and they were all wearing shining terrible white clothes. We were terrified
and ran away."
recall that happening in the morning, and we heard it at the noon meal, feasting
amidst our enemies.
we have come to the most blessed thought.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of
my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
sum of a life is this-- The goodness of God, and the mercy of God shall follow
me all my life, and God does not stop at death. He keeps following me for eternity.
The house of the Lord, what is this? It is where God lives. It is the "mansions"
of John 14. It is the throne where God's glory is manifest. He will have me right
there beside him forever.
here is the choicest thought. David does not speak of life and death-- he speaks
only of life and life. Life and eternal life. My dear friend, if you are in Christ
Jesus, a saint, called unto Glory in him, you are as much in heaven right now
as you will ever be. Your body, which must die one day, is incidental. Death is
a slight inconvenience along the path of eternal life. And I can prove David by
3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour,
the Lord Jesus Christ:
1611 English usage of conversation speaks of our place secured as eternal residents
in heaven. Paul has this in the present tense-- NOW!
2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens
with the saints, and of the household of God;
household is you, me, and anyone else born again by faith in Jesus Christ. Get
used to it. We belong to God and are secure in our place with him.
13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
comes to the end of his Revelation, and the end of the whole Bible, and he tells
us what God is planning on doing for eternity-- living with YOU!
21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first
earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy
city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned
for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold,
the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall
be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
must challenge you, and me, to think more like God. You and I are in heaven as
far as he is concerned. There is this small inconvenience of dying, but to God
that is a small event, but, I think, also a special time to God. Look what the
death of a saint means to God.
116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
Answer: The kid is coming home to stay. The purchased possession will be standing
right there at the throne for eternity-- you-- the one Jesus died for on the Cross.
God is intensely looking forward to having you in heaven fully participating.
as you and I plod on through the dreary days, the joyful days, the valley of the
shadow, and the days of feasting, let us remember that the path ends at the throne
of God-- in the house of the Lord-- FOREVER!
we should be acting more like people just passing through-- people with an eternal
appointment with Father.
IN THE ARMS OF JESUS
in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast,
There by His love o’ershaded,
sweetly my soul shall rest.
Hark! ’tis the voice of angels, borne in a song
Over the fields of glory, over the jasper sea.
in the arms of Jesus, safe on His gentle breast
There by His love o’ershaded,
sweetly my soul shall rest.
Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world’s
temptations, sin cannot harm me there.
Free from the blight of sorrow, free
from my doubts and fears;
Only a few more trials, only a few more tears!
my heart’s dear Refuge, Jesus has died for me;
Firm on the Rock of Ages, ever
my trust shall be.
Here let me wait with patience, wait till the night is
Wait till I see the morning break on the golden shore.