Sunday, August 5, 2012

AWAKE MY SOUL:  Perspective  (Psalm 23)

Psalm 23 has all but been relegated to the bedside of the sick and the dying and funeral services.  However, the Psalm is about LIFE not death!

Why is this Psalm popular?  Perhaps a couple of reasons:  a)  it answers the three most important questions people tend to ask about God (we’ll deal with them below) and, b) it addresses more questions that are fundamental to our human relationship with God.

What’s your perspective on God?  Let’s see what the Psalmist says

1.  Who is God?  (vs. 1)

The writer of this Psalm is King David and right up front he says that the Lord is our “shepherd”.  Shepherds lead, feed, and protect their sheep.  David knew a lot about shepherding.  He grew up being a shepherd.  Sheep need shepherds because sheep are overwhelmingly fearful, desperately insecure, unbelievably helpless, and undeniably herdish.  Sheep rate low on intelligence consider with others in the animal kingdom.

Who is your shepherd?  We look for shepherds in other places.  Some look to the shepherd of achievement (“If I can just drive a certain car, leave in a certain zip code, reach a certain vocational position, etc.”).  Some look to the shepherd of appearance (“If I could just lose weight; have some work done, etc.”).  Some look to the shepherd of approval (from a spouse, parent, child, boss, etc.).  Some look to the shepherd of addiction (substances, recreation, hobbies, etc.).  And some look to the shepherd of activity (busyness, etc.).  The problem with all these false shepherds is they never satisfy.  David says his Shepherd provides all that he needs so that he is never in want.

2.  Where is God?  (vs 4)

He is “with me” – even in the most difficult times of my life (the valley of the shadow of death).  His rod provides identification and protection.  His staff provides guidance and direction.

3.  What is God doing?  (vss. 2-3, 5)

a.  He is making me lie down in green pastures (vs. 2).  He knows I need mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional rest from time to time.

b.  He is leading me beside quiet waters (vs. 2).  Sheep are very scared of rushing waters.  The Good Shepherd quiets the waters of my life so I can rest.

c.  He is restoring my soul (vs. 3).  The Hebrew word for “restore” means to “turn back” or “to fetch back again”.  Our souls can can become darkened, dirty and dead from the pressures of this life.  God is able to bring back to life that which is dead; to clean that which is dirty; and give life to that which is dark.  He restores my soul.

d.  He is guiding me (vs 3).  He is gently showing me how to navigate life is this crazy world.

e.  He is preparing a table before me in the presence of my enemies (vs. 5).  In David’s day when an army would conquer another kingdom, often, the conquering army would prepare a banquet of the conquered king’s food and use his golden eating utensils to eat it – right in front of him.  It was sort of like the final insult to the conquered king – like rubbing salt in the wound.  God promises that he has a way of turning the tables and preparing a table for you in front of those people who have hurt you, maligned you, lied about you and to you, and generally caused you horrific grief.  David promises that it isn’t over.  God has a way of bring things around.

f.  He is anointing my head with oil (vs. 5).  Shepherds anoint with oil the heads of their sheep to keep away pesky insects and other irritants.  Oil was also applied to wounds.  The Great Shepherd deals with the irritation of my life and provides comfort when I am wounded.

Finally, as I follow the Great Shepherd, goodness and love follow me.  I am guaranteed a place in his house forever.

Let the perspective of God as your loving, caring, compassionate, guiding, Shepherd awaken your soul.




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