Feb 13 2013

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Praying Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, 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 runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

(Psalm 23)

This beloved psalm beautifully relates David’s experience before God and his confession before his enemies. As a statement of faith and acknowledgment of dependency, this psalm can be our own confession of God’s faithfulness, our desire to agree with His ways, and our commitment to resist Satan’s lies about our lives.

We agree with God’s ways when we see Him as our shepherd. He is the one who leads, guides, and protects us, both when we feel as though we are resting in abundance and when we feel fear in times of danger and distress. He prepares a table, a feast for us in the midst of opposition. To feast on God’s table is to connect with God through praying the Word, and by communing with His indwelling Spirit. When we do this, we see our situation, circumstances, and enemies differently. They seem small and temporary instead of powerful and permanent. When we constantly dwell on our circumstances, we are tempted to feast on anxiety and worry. However, if we focus on God and His promises, we can feast on His goodness and mercy because we see their evidence in our lives.

We are prone to be spiritually bored and emotionally bound if we do not feast in God’s presence. A heart vibrant in God is satisfied, and filled with peace instead of with annoyance and fear. David knew God would provide an overflowing portion. Green pastures speak of abundant provision, while still waters represent peace and refreshment. The blessings extolled in this psalm are for any who make the Lord leader of their lives. This is why David referred to God as “my” shepherd (Ps. 23:1); it was a personal revelation to David. God made Himself known to him as an intimate guardian, ready to provide for all of David’s needs. God responds to our hunger by filling our souls with goodness (Psalm 107:9).

In relating to the Lord as our shepherd, we are placing our trust in His name – in other words, in His nature and character. Because He is jealous for His name (Isa. 48:11, 52:6), we know He will surely cause us to thrive. He will lead us in paths of righteousness for His own glory and honor. This is our confidence during periods of blessing and in times of testing. The shepherd’s rod is a symbol of protection from danger. The shepherd’s staff represents His ability to direct us through each season we experience. Feasting on God gives us strength for every season, every trial, and every circumstance. His Presence makes all the difference.

by Nathan Wood of International House of Prayer, Kansas City

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