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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Hope in Psalms 23

As I layed in my prayer closet one day, desparetly needing to hear the Lord's voice; He directed me to Psalms 23. When I looked down to read it, the Spirit began to show me direct details of my life in Psalms 23. As the voice of the Lord revealed to me Psalms 23 in a whole new light, I began to feel refreshed and restored. As a child, I was directed to memorize this specific passage in school. I grew up reciting it often at different times in my life; but I have never had the Lord highlight the passage as He did that day during my quite time. Now I find myself quoting the scripture all through out the day because right now, I am living Psalms 23.

Psalms 23:1-6

Verse 1: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

The Hebrew word that David used here for Lord was Yah-weh. I read that Yah-weh was such a Holy Word in the Hebrew language that when people would say it, they wouldn't even pronouce it the right way. They would change the pronounciation to the word Adonia, because they felt so unworthy to even speak His name. David here is expressing how unworthy he truly is and how Holy God is.

The Hebrew word that David used for "I shall not want" is Ech-sar. It literally means to lack, need. So David is saying, he will not have any lack of his needs.  God is our Provider for every source of life. The most Holy God loves me enough to take care of unworthy me. David is acknowledging his supreme trust in the most Holy God.

Verse 2: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside still waters.

As I was reading verse 2, one word really highlighted in my mind. The word, "Maketh". When you make some one do something, it is implied that force is used. I was puzzled, I mean, green pastures and still waters sound lovely and so peaceful. Why in the world would God have to force us to be in peace and tranquility? Then the Spirit reaveled to me, what does God often have to do to get me inside my prayer closet to spend quite time with Him? Often times, He has to send trials and circumstances that are beyond my control and that draws me to my knees pleading and supplicating with Him. He has to "MAKE" me draw peace and tranquility from Him. I mean, why do I have to be force to go spend time with Him? I know I will gain strength when I am with Him. I know I will fill refreshed after I hear His voice. I know I will leave encouraged instead of being beaten down by this world and all it has to offer. So, why exactly, does God have to makes us? Because we are human flesh and so often we get wrapped up in the business of our lives and we get side-tracked by things that have little value in the reality of our life. The Bible speaks of Christ being the Living Water, and those of us who drink from Him will thirst no more! (John 4:14) That is the still waters that He leads me beside. I thirst for Him, like a dear panting for the water. My soul pants for Him. (Psalms 42:1)Just like that day, I desparately needed to hear His voice. My soul was thirsty for Him to speak and to move in my life.

Verse 3: He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake.

Verse 3 follows verse 2 because it is contingent on verse 2 to happen. Once we spend time in His green pastures and experience the still waters, He will restore our soul. This has to happen daily. That is why Paul tells us that we must die to self daily and renew our mind daily. (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16) That day I was beggin Him to speak, I was so over come with all of the trials that seemed to be hitting our family all at once, and I even cried out to Him, and said...."I'm DONE! I quit!". I was physically weak (because I was extremely tired from lack of sleep) and I was spiritually weak (because of all of the hard hits we have been taken here in the last few months.) Lets just say the old saying, "When it rains, it pours" holds truth! On that day, I went into my quite time with the Lord very hurt and angry with Him. I was feeling let down by God. That is why I needed His voice so desparately. After He led me by the still waters, I came out restored. Restore means to bring back, to clean up, or to repair. That is exactly what the Lord does to us after we spend time with Him. The last part of the verse is so key in our Christian walk. God begans to mold us and change us in our prayer closet. He changes us in our quite time with Him. When a person is spending quality time with the Father on daily bases, other will notice because their life will bear one of righteous, holy living. Not for our name to be praised, but in order for Christ's name to be lifted up and pointing others to Him. The Spirit always points to the Son of God. He came to bear His name. So when we are filled with the Spirit and bear the Fruit of the Spirit, our life will point the Son of God...not lift our self up. Christ says, He will lift us up in His time to honor and glorify Him for His Kingdoms purpose. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Verse 4: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for though art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

Alot of times I hear this preached at funerals, bringing comfort to those experiencing physical death. But here, I sense that David is speaking also of comfort through a spiritual death. There are times in a christians life that God wants to take them to a deeper walk with Christ and to higher levels in their spiritual maturity. In order to do that, He has to take us through deep, dark valleys. Through those valleys, He wants to purge us of some things we no longer need. He wants us to die to self, so that He can quicken us. (Luke 9:23) He wants us to die to our own desires and dreams so that He can make us alive in Him and restore unto us the desires and dreams He has for us. That is the reason David could write Psalms 37. The reason David had the confidence that he would not fear in those times of dark, desolate places is because of the promise of Gods Rod and Staff.
I have read that passage a hundred times and always read it as one item. After doing further research, I found out that the Shepherd would carry two items. He would carry a rod (a long straight stick) and a staff (a long stick with a curve at the end.) The Shepherd would use the rod for multiple things. He would use the rod to fight off the sheeps predators. He woud use it to discipline wayward sheep, and he would use it to assist in counting the flock. The Staff was used for another purpose. The staff was used to round up the sheep in the flock, to guide the sheep by applying pressure, and to extricate the sheep from bad situations. The word extricate means to free or remove someone or something from a difficult situation or trap! That is why David did not fear the enemy or the trials, or the difficult situations. He rested in that promise! He knew God was preparing him for a great position - the King of Israel. He knew God was maturing him and molding him. He had confidence in God. He trusted that He would chastise him when needed, protect him from enemies when they came, to place pressure on him to guide him in the right direction, and most of all - he knew God would rescue him out of traps and difficult situations. I love how the Shepherd places pressure on the sheep to guide them. I know in my own life, God often times has to place pressure on me to guide me into the prayer closet, to guide me down the right path, to guide me into the right decision. David understood that trials, difficult situations, and spiritual death wasn't a bad thing. It was God's way of directing him and preparing him for his be one of the greatest Kings Israel ever had.
The Lord allowed me to see that so I could hang on to that promise and hope of His rod and staff during these difficult times we are expereincing right now. He was assuring me that He will direct my paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6) He will tell me which direction to go, when I don't know what to do. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 30:20-21:

 "And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
  And 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.

Verse 5: Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

People of royalty are known for their abudance of food on their tables. David was confident in what God was leading him to do. He knew eventually he was to be King and that God would prepare his kingdom for him in front of all his enemies that were after him. Samual had anointed David's head with oil years ago before he wrote Psalms 23. David was picked by God to rule Israel, David just didn't know when. He had to wait until God removed the current King - Saul. Saul was Davids great enemy. He pursued him day and night, to try and kill him. David had several occasions where he could have killed Saul, but he honored the Lords anointed and chose to have self control over his desires and wants. He waited on God to move. He knew when God moved him into the Kings position that He would also raise him up before his enemies.
In the Bible, oil represents the Holy Spirit. After we go through the spiritual death and allow Christ to make us alive again in Him, we have the power from within - the Holy Spirit. I believe that power will not be silent or kept to our self. Our power will run over and out of us and others will see it. They will see Christ working through us. Our cup will run out and over into others. My desire is for others to see Christ oozing out of me in everything I do and say. Unfortunatly,I usually allow the flesh to creep in and stifle the Holy Spirit in my life. I know the more I spend time in my prayer closet, the more weak my flesh becomes and the more I will allow the Spirit to have control over me.

Verse 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.

David acknowledged is desperate need for God at the end of this chapter. The word good is defined by favorable character or tendency. David had tasted of the Lords goodness and knew it was sweet. In chapter 34, he tells us to "Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that trusteth in Him." He had experienced the goodness of the Lord.  Mercy is not getting what we deserve. David was expressing his humble heart. David had experienced humility through his spiritual death process. God sent him into a literal cave to live for a long time just to spare his life from the hand of King Saul. Humility was something the Lord taught David. I mean, he was after all, the great warrior that killed over 10,000 men. He was a great leader in the Kings army at one time, he killed a giant with a rock, he killed a bear and a lion with his bear hands; and now he was just struggling to survive in a cave! True humility can only be given to you by the Lord.  God can not and will not use a prideful person.  Even those who have a small amount of pride. The Bible says pride is an abmonation to God and that God hates it!I am learning that pride comes in all shapes and sizes in our life, and God wants to point out everyone of them. He must remove pride in me before He can use me.(Proverbs 16:5, Proverbs 6:16-19) David learned the power of humility. He also pledges his allegiance to God no matter what at the end of the chapter. No matter what, David was committed to be a follower of God. No.Matter.What!

I now see Psalms 23 in a personal way. I use to read it as a cute little childrens memory passage with a little rhythm to it. But now, I read it through experience and hope. I now can see how it lines up with my own life and my own desolate cave that I have been living in. I have the hope that it is just preparation in order for me to fulfill the purpose God has for me.

If you are going through your own cave of desolation and fear right now - hang on. Take this hope that David had and hold on it and don't let it go. The promises that he had then - we still have today. God is an unchanging, all loving God! (Hebrews 6:17-19, Hebrews 13:8) Find comfort and peace in His Rod and Staff and find hope in His promise, "He preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies."

It's just a will pass.