July 4th Psalm 23
A Psalm of David
1: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3: He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4: 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. 5: Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 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.
A Psalm of David
1: The earth is the LORD's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2: For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. 3: Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4: He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5: He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6: This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah. 7: Lift up your head, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8: Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9: Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 10: Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
Today we come to two of the most famous Psalms. The first Psalm, No. 23 is probably able to be repeated from memory by most people. It has become a firm favourite over the years and this is probably due to its simple message and comforting sentiment. All through the OT the Lord has constantly used the familiar concept that he is the shepherd and the children of Israel are the sheep of his pasture. So David takes this theme and uses it at a simile to describe the relationship that he has with his Lord. This is even more touching when we remember that David himself was the shepherd of his family. David begins saying the Lord is my shepherd and then he goes on to describe his relation to the Lord in three spheres of his life. Each of these setting are found in valleys. The first valley is the valley of his provision. In this valley David finds that the Lord makes provision for all his needs. David confidently states that he will not be in want. The Lord leads him to pastures that are lush and deep enough to lie down in. The Lord leads him by waters which are safe, satisfying and fresh. He also confesses he often strays and says he restores me when l get lost. And he leads me in straight paths so that his name is honoured. Then we come to a dark valley - the valley of his presence. In this valley there is a long shadow and it’s the shadow of a wolf that is stalking the sheep. But this only causes him to stay closer to the shepherd and he can hear the sound of the shepherd’s staff striking the ground in the darkness and it gives him comfort knowing that his protector is near. And so in this valley he confidently says – I will fear no evil. In the third valley we find David in the presence of his enemies. Yet he is not afraid but is seated feasting. The Lord makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. And in this valley he asserts that the Lord anoints him with oil in their presence. The Lord confirms his authority and office in the kingdom in spite of all the plots to overthrow him. And therefore he says my joy is overwhelming. Then David makes a statement that has a prophetic touch. He says first goodness and mercy from the Lord will follow me all the days of my life and after that in resurrection – I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. In Psalm No. 24 David again brings to us prophetic messages. He describes the time when the whole earth will come into the personal possession of the Messiah. In that day all the earth and its people will belong to Christ. This will be so because he is the one who lays the foundation of it on the nations of the earth and he will establish it even when the nations try to overwhelm the Lord. Then he asks a very pertinent question, perhaps the most important question that will occupy the minds of the kings of the earth. Who will be able to go up to the mountain of the LORD? And who will be able to stand in that holy place? Then he answers these questions. Only he that has clean hands and a pure mind. One whose mind is humble and truthful. This is the characteristic of the man who in the Messianic kingdom will be able to go to Jerusalem and stand in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. This man – a man that is righteous before the Lord will receive the blessing of the Lord and he will be made righteous by the God who has saved him. In those days a whole generation of the men of Israel will seek to know the Lord’s face in the face of Jesus the Messiah. Then he pauses saying - Think about that ! Then David calls to the Gates of Jerusalem saying lift up your heads, And lift up the everlasting doors and the King of Glory the Christ of God will come in to his city. The cry will go out, who is the King of Glory? And the answer will come, The LORD, strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. Then the call will go out again to open the gates of the city to the Christ of God. Think about that !