ODJ: Shepherd in the shadows

March 4, 2014 

READ: Psalm 23:1-6 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (v.6 NKJV).

A fretful parishioner once came to a famous preacher’s office, feeling disturbed and frightened. “Two men are following me everywhere I go”, she said. Because he was aware of the woman’s overactive imagination, the preacher said kindly, “Oh, I know exactly who these men are.” “Who?” she asked. “They are goodness and mercy”, he replied.

Psalm 23 opens with this simple and powerful affirmation: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need” (v.1). None of the words that follow make sense without this firm conviction: God provides what we need. There’s no moment when we’re outside of God’s reach and nothing is required for our wellbeing that God doesn’t deliver. Indeed, His goodness and love never abandon us (v.6).

The psalm tells us that—with God—we will not lack. It reminds us that though Israel wandered through the wilderness for 40 years, they “lacked nothing” (Deuteronomy 2:7). Even when we’re in the deserts of life, seemingly lost and listless, God meets our every need.

His care for us is true when we enjoy the lush meadows as well as when we endure the darkest valley (Psalm 23:2,4). The green meadows and peaceful waters are our reality because God is with us. The valley of the shadow of death will not destroy us because God is with us. Our faith isn’t a promise of escape from the vexing realities of our world, but the assurance that God has endured the world’s horror and now stands as Victor. He shepherds us towards the fullness of life in God’s kingdom (John 10:10).

This good future with God is where we’re heading, though there is still a path to travel between here and there. As we journey, with the Lord as our shepherd, let’s remember that we lack nothing. —Winn Collier

365-day plan› Joshua 10:1-15

If you haven’t memorised Psalm 23, take a verse or two each day this week and set the words in your heart. Pray the verses each morning. Allow the words to stay with you throughout the day. 
Where are your green meadows right now? Thank God for them. Where are your dark valleys? Affirm that God is with you in them.