Behind Me and Before Me

Ps23_6Psalm 23:6

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…

I can be sure spring will follow winter. I can be sure the sun will rise tomorrow. And I can be sure—absolutely, positively, without a doubt sure—that God’s goodness and love will follow me, tomorrow and every day.

Whenever I turn around, there they are: goodness and love. God’s goodness and love—constant, pure and generous.

Every day, as long as I live, His goodness and love are mine. I may not be attuned to God’s presence; I may not see evidence that He’s there, but He is, following me with His goodness and love.

His goodness is wholesome and right, kind and honest. It makes me more, not less. It blesses my life and adds to it. It’s behind me, pushing me forward, pressing me on, giving me courage, rooting for me.

And His love? Well, when I love people I bless them, think about them, want to make them happy and be with them. I believe in them, think highly of them, encourage and support them. God’s love is greater and purer than that—and it follows me around.

…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

If what’s behind me is wonderful, look at what’s before me, in my forever after. I will dwell—reside, make my home and be at home in the house of the Lord. I will be in His presence, at His side, under His shelter, forever feasting on His goodness and love. No longer catching mere glimpses but enjoying full disclosure with ever new revelations of His person and greatness, His beauty and wonder.

Lord, I scarce can take in your goodness and love, following me today and awaiting me in my tomorrows—so generous, so undeserved, so pure, so You!

Fed, Anointed, Blessed

TableBeforeMe

Psalm 23:5

I think of a prepared table as one that’s been given special consideration, set beautifully and bountifully. It stands ready for friends or family who will relax and laugh as they enjoy good food and conversation. But that isn’t the venue for the table described in Psalm 23.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

My enemies are threatening, taunting, tormenting me and in the midst of my affliction, the Lord prepares a table for me. It’s obvious these enemies are of no consequence to my Shepherd. It is also obvious that He expects me to maintain nourishment and refreshment even in the presence of my personal demons – unforgiveness, pity, pride, accusations, doubt, anger, jealousy, bitterness. They are pressing in on me and, still, the Lord prepares a table for me that will satisfy my soul with everything good, lovely and nourishing. And there’s more.

You anoint my head with oil…

Really, Lord? Amid enemy harassment, you anoint my head? Even when my defenses are compromised and I feel depleted, you claim me as yours? You set me apart as honored and destined for a purpose? I am not like those un-anointed. I am marked as yours, selected, blessed, and anointed for service.

My cup overflows.

Yes, it does. I am fed, refreshed, rested, guided, protected, secure, and anointed. I am never hidden from the watch care of my loving Shepherd. My life runs over with His blessings and grace.

Lord, I cannot comprehend the fullness of your love for me. Thank you that you are undaunted. Whether I’m resting in green pastures or bloodied on the battlefield, you are feeding, protecting, and loving me.

To Want, or not to Want

QuietWatersPsalm 23:1-3a

The psalmist makes a bold claim when he says, “I shall not be in want.” Although I aspire to make that claim my own, I haven’t mastered it. Confidence to pronounce “I shall not be in want” only comes when I am mindful of what makes that statement possible—the Lord is my shepherd. Because He sees to my needs, I shall not be in want.

“He makes me lie down.” Sometimes I just need rest. I need to stop running, holding things together, and checking off lists. I need to still my heart, mind and soul. I may deny it, fight it or argue that there’s no time for it, but He always knows my needs better than I do. He lets me, He causes me to lie down. When I yield to the Spirit’s nudging, He alone provides the rest that can refresh my soul, my spirit and my body.

“Lie down in green pastures.” Sheep will not lie down when they’re hungry. Is it any wonder then that He leads me to green pastures for a resting place? It is where I am fed and nourished by the Word (my green pasture). The assurance of the Word calms my soul and gives me peace—the rest I desperately need.

“He leads me beside quiet waters.” The Shepherd quenches my thirst and allows me to refresh myself with clear, cool water. He knows that sheep will not drink from rushing water—they cannot take it in—so He leads me to quiet, palatable water that I can easily ingest. The satisfaction I could not find elsewhere is found at the quiet waters provided by the Spirit.

“He restores my soul.” My restoration—renewal, wholeness, completeness, satisfaction, functionality, energy, fervor—does not come from ordinary rest, food and water, but from my Shepherd’s provision. It is His leading, His nearness and His protection (as we’ll see next time in v4). Restoration full and deep comes from Him alone.

The Shepherd satisfies my needs—I shall not want.

I am restored—made new, useful, secure, not wanting, ready, capable, as good or better than before.

Lord, thank you for causing me to lie down, for satisfying my hunger and thirst, for refreshing me and restoring me. You are my good Shepherd and I praise you.

*For meditations on the first five words of Psalm 23, scroll down past the last two posts.