Today I was impressed with something that is said in one of the most familiar Psalms in the Bible, Psalm 23. It seems that there are two primary descriptions of God in this passage. The first is that he is our Shepherd. As our Shepherd, he leads, guides, protects and provides for his sheep. These truths should be a great encouragement to us today.
But, the second description is what hit me today because of the challenges we are all experiencing with the Coronavirus. It is in verses 5-6 which says,
“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.”
In the verses above, God is now pictured not as a Shepherd but as the Lavish Host of a grand meal and you and I are his guests. This meal takes place “in the presence of my enemies.” Did you see that?
Tom Constable notes,
“In this verse David described God as a host rather than as a shepherd. As a gracious host God provides hospitality for His people. He supplies us with what we need and desire lavishly, and He does so not by removing us from the presence of our spiritual enemies but in their presence.”
Although David probably had human enemies in mind in verse five, this passage is clearly also telling us that God will provide for us in all difficult times because of what he said in verse four which says,
“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.”
David said he fears “no evil.” This is a general reference to all harm. As we go through this challenging time, we must remember that God does not promise to prevent challenges in our lives. Instead, he promises to walk through these times with us. As a result, we must endure as we faithfully walk with him and trust him.
One other thing stood out to me in these verses. The realization of God’s lavish provision in the midst of his enemies caused David to say something significant,
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
What does David mean by “follow”? I think Constable again points out something very important about David’s statement. He said,
“‘To follow’ here does not mean to ‘bring up the rear’ but ‘to pursue vigorously.’”
Isn’t it encouraging and comforting to know that God vigorously is pursuing you and me to lavishly meet our needs in the midst of trouble? May you and I continue to trust him to care for us and thank him for his abundance.
Father, thank you for helping me see something new in this very familiar Psalm. Thank you for the truth that you are with us in times of trouble and you lavishly meet our needs as we walk with you. In fact, you will vigorously continue to do that! Help me to walk by faith in your promises and display Christ’s character in the midst of all challenges. May you protect our country, our leadership and your Church at this time.
Following Jesus with you,