For the New Year I’m rehearsing the truth of an oldie but goodie, Psalm 23. It’s rich, profound, and best of all, true. So followers of Christ, I invite you to forget its familiarity and re-live it with me today as if you’ve never heard it before.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want
You are in extraordinary hands. Yahweh himself considers you his charge and his track record for sheep-care is impeccable. In 2013 he will supply what you need, which is better than supplying what you want. He has already lavished you with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters
He restores my soul
Smell the fresh-cut grass of his truth. Feel the warm breeze of love on your cheek. Hear the bubbling brook of his peace. The miracle is that these treasures can be enjoyed in spite of the awful diagnosis, the broken heart, the crumbling economy. Joy and supernatural strength are also favorite gifts of his, especially in dire circumstances. If they can be enjoyed by Corrie & Betsy Ten Boom in a German concentration camp, for example, they can be enjoyed by you and me come what may this year.
He guides me in the paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake
God knows every temptation you will face this year, and he will provide customized ways of escape for each one. Be on the lookout for them. He has rewarding work for you to do as well, for the betterment of his own reputation and for your sanctification (Ephesians 2:10). The Good Shepherd likes to show off by using the unlikely to do the even less likely. Have fun!
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me
If you feel the chill of death this year, whether it’s literal or the death of a dream, you are accompanied by the One who has tasted death and overcome it. Cherish the guarantee of his presence and rejoice that resurrected life is always better than what came before. We know that in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us (Romans 8:37).
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
Translation: his spanking spoon and leash are at the ready, and we should be glad of them (Proverbs 3:11-12). Expect to be disciplined by the Lord in 2013 and be concerned if you are not. Receive his goads and course corrections with gratitude, knowing they’re proof of his love and that he won’t stop until you’re whole.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows
Though the devil knows your name and that his time is short, God invites you to his banqueting table in the midst of battle. He doesn’t simply supply rations, but offers more than you can hold. Take your fill, beloved. And remember you’re only in minor skirmishes now; Jesus has taken the brunt of the blows and has won the war already.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever
You, Christ-follower, are constantly followed by the goodness and mercy of God. These twin bodyguards are closer than your shadow and will trail you through this life and right on over the threshold into the next. There, the word security will take on new meaning. There, your God will make all things new (Revelation 21:5).
Happy New Year, fellow lambs.