The 23rd psalm is really a prayer. Meant to be used in worship. It is not like The gospels- a theological reflection on someone’s life or Romans a discourse on a particular issue. In this case matters of sin and grace . Neither is it a letter addressed to a particular church, dealing with matters of discipline or some problem- like Galatians, Ephesians or Thessalonian
No, it is a prayer. An expression of someone’s inner state before God. An honest expression of someone’s deepest concerns and how they experience God as part of those concerns. One can have problems/issues in your life and not feel as though God has anything to do with it. Many people fight their battles alone. But not the writer of psalm 23
In great detail the psalmist gives us the broad scope of God relationship with us. It is a psalm for the non-believer, the atheist, the bored, the disinterested, the lost, the confused, the lonely and the abused. It is for the one who thinks God is irrelevant, old fashioned or out of date. Because it is someone’s personal testament. Take it or leave it. .
We all have personal testimonies. From the lady who believes that God found a parking space for her when she prayed to the man who believes that God healed his cancer. All of us can identify those moments in our lives when the hand of God just reached in and touched us in some special way. We have no doubt that it was the grace of God at work in us.
So that is the 23rd psalm a personal testimony of someone’s experience of God. So what is his testimony? In the following lines I have summarized the basic components of the writer’s experience of God.
The lord is my shepherd – That’s relationship
I shall not want- that’s supply
He makes me lie down in green pastures – That’s rest
He leads me beside still waters – That’s refreshment
He rests my soul – That’s healing
He leads me in the path of righteousness – That’s guidance
For his name sake – That’s Purpose
Yea though I walk – That’s testing
I will fear no evil – that’s protection
For you are with me – that’s faithfulness
Thy rod and thy staff- that’s discipline
You prepare a table for me – That’s hope
You anoint my head with oil- that’s consecration
My cup runs over – That’s abundance
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me – That’s blessing
And I will dwell in the house of the lord – That’s security
Forever – that’s eternity
Psalm 23 is a test of our faith. It asks the question. Do you believe in a God of abundance, suppy, healing, rest, protection, hope and blessing? Now each one of these attributes of God poses a problem for some of us. The psalm challenges us to assess where we stand in our relationship with God. Do you truly believe in a God who can supply ALL of your needs? Not just your need for security and protection but all the others as well as a good shepherd does.
Do you believe that God can respond to that one need you have, the one you told no one about, the one you don’t even like to mention, the one you think is not so important? Psalm 23 challenge us to believe and trust in that God.