May 23rd 2020 – Psalm 23

"A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.

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.

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

Psalm 23

The picture changes again (5, 6), for the Christian life is a many-sided one. Spurgeon says of 5, 'the warrior feasted, the priest anointed, the guest satisfied'. It is almost like a kaleidoscope, the way in which the image switches from one pattern to another, but this is an evidence of the different insights the Psalm gives into the nature of Christian life. It is possible to discern a progression in the Psalm: the ultimate aim of God's dealings with us in grace is that the sinner is turned into the saint, and the saint disciplined in order to become a soldier. But in the warfare that ensues there is always bountiful provision, even in the thickest of the battle and in the presence of the enemy. The greater the pressures and disciplines on the believer's life, the greater and richer the divine provision, as the anointing with oil and the overflowing cup indicate: plenty in a world of need (1), peace in the midst of shadows (4), victory in the face of the enemy (5). Finally, the 'goodness and mercy'. The RV translates 'Only good and mercy shall follow me' as implying that faith has transfigured all the evil in the believer's experience into good (cf Romans 8:28, 'all things work together for good...'). This is an invincible position for the child of God, when evil itself is pressed into service for Him and made a blessing (cf Genesis 50:20 and Philippians 1:12). Well might Paul cry in exaltation, 'We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us'.