When I reflect on God’s comfort one of the most famous chapters in the Bible comes to mind. It has been read at every funeral service I have attended, save one. This Scripture is not intended to be for the passing but for the living. I speak of the 23rd Psalm. It begins “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (KJV)
God always takes care of us. Now, what I intend to say is that God always takes care of our spiritual needs. We might go without some meals, miss out on a promotion or even lose a job. Worse we can lose our health and even more bad off, see loved ones suffer all the while feeling helpless. I don’t know if any of these things fit your situation. I only know that some of them have fit mine. I have seen Christians addicted to meth. I have seen saints confess to infidelity and pornography. Their spouses are hit rather hard. Things happen in this life that whirl our lives upside down. Through it all, God is our mainstay. He is the Great Shepherd that gathers as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Out of this vain temporal, carnal world, Father God shows us by His kind and gentle example how to love and know his care. With God we will never lack. Jesus says:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:25-34 ESV).
Take up Psalm 23 again and read verse two. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” (KJV) Do we see the provision here? We don’t have to stretch our necks through the barbwire to reach greener pastures. The drinking fountain is always fresh. Consider the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Worn out from travelling Jesus stopped, at the very well known, Jacob’s Well. It is a most impressive historical sight. He asks a Samaritan woman to draw his drink. Jews are rather racist when it comes to Samaritans and the woman knows this. Read with me.
“The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” John 4:9-15 (ESV)
Now when you look this passage up you will further read that this woman was not only a Samaritan, but she was also divorced and remarried multiple times. And it seemed as though, like many of our time, she had given up on marriage, because, she was living with a man without being married to him. It was not but a few verses later that Jesus revealed to this woman, a woman of color, yea a troubled mixed up adulterous female…that He is the Christ. Now, think about that green pasture with the picture perfect Spring water resting in it. The fountain of blessing. Oh yes, my friend, God is the Shepherd who provides for every spiritual need. He is not prejudiced. He is not a misogynist. He is all-inclusive and all accepting to whomever will come with an open heart and willing soul.
God is the best refreshment. Psalm 23:3 reads “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” When we have gone off path, as sheep tend to do, Father God leads us back to right living. That’s what righteousness is – right living. That necessarily implies that there is wrong living, like the Samaritan woman we just read about. But, that’s not what my focus is on in this letter. Zero in on the words, “He restoreth my soul.” When I say the LORD is my refreshment I think of him like Gatorade for the spiritual athlete. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write,
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)
I don’t mean to be irreverent when I say God is like Gatorade. I just mean that when the psalmist says God restores the soul he is not necessarily talking about us changing our lives in this context. It seems to me he is saying the LORD revitalises the believer’s strength. We can do all things through God who is our power. Without God we are left to fend for ourselves.
Here is one of the best parts of Psalm 23. Listen to verse four. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (KJV) The shadow of death is this temporal life. I don’t know about you but for me this life can sometimes be quite miserable and downright scary. God comforts me. He gives me peace that surpasses comprehension. When I let it, my anxiety can go through the roof. I know Jesus says “do not be anxious about tomorrow.” I know that I should not be apprehensive. But all too often, I am exactly that. The truth is I don’t have a crystal ball and neither do you. There is no way we can predict the future. All we have is today. That’s all God promises. Our Father God assures us that we are able to overcome. “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” Revelation 21:7 (NKJV)
Even our enemies cannot defeat us. Psalm 23:5 – “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” (KJV) Right there in front of our worst enemy, God prepares a feast. Partakers of Christ are fed with spiritual nutrition whereby we cannot be starved. Christians dine on Jesus. Hungering and thirsting after righteousness we are satisfied with the manna that does not lose its good flavor. Hear Jesus clearly.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.” John 6:47-58 (KJV)
Jesus emphatically states, “I am the bread of life.” The bread the Jews were fed in the wilderness wandering would not keep over night. Each day they had to go out and collect their daily food. Each day the manna would only last so long for sustenance. But with Jesus, our bread of life is a provision that with faith, we will not die. When we feast on the Word (John 1:1, 14) and drink the sacrificial blood of the Lamb we are satisfied. Therefore, though our enemy plots against us we are healthy. Those who oppress us and malign us and say things falsely against us will be embarrassed when we are taken care of. We need not speak an unkind word in reaction to our foe. Revenge is not necessary on our part. Leave that up to the Shepherd who is the protector against raving wolves.
All the days of my life will not be depressing. No. I will look upwards to the high calling of God. Psalm 23:6, “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.” (KJV) We see at the last; God is always good and merciful to the faithful sheep of God. Now certainly, there will be those who say Lord, Lord but Jesus will answer “Depart from me you workers of iniquity.” (Luke 23:7). Yet, those of us who are sincere and have a living faith will be saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-10). The house of the LORD is built on the solid foundation. It will not divide and it will not fall. I am determined to live in it eternally. As the church of God, each member of Christ is to trust that God is good. That says there is a standard for morality given to define the very Divine Nature of the God we serve and worship. He is love and the highest giver of mercy. Anyone who chooses to trust and believe can find God. Without faith it’s impossible to please Him, no matter the amount of good done by me or you. Without faith my works are vain and without works my faith is not justified. I have confidence in God’s grace because He promises to treat me fairly and right.
Father God, Son of God, and Spirit of God, I trust in Thee.