(WRITER’S NOTE: We’re continuing to examine the Twenty-Third Psalm. I encourage you to do your own thinking before considering what anyone else says. Try to look at it as though you were reading it for the first time. Better still, try to imagine yourself in David’s shoes (or sandals or bare-footed). Try to picture this teenage boy caring for his family’s sheep, strumming his harp, and composing a song so beautiful and meaningful that it will endure through all ages. No theological or musical or literary training, you understand. Not even a complete “Old Testament” and no New Testament from which he could gain inspiration or direction. -dk)
IN THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS….
Now, David seems to be talking about humans, not sheep. Righteousness is probably a concept with which sheep aren’t familiar. The word means what it sounds like it means. Doing the RIGHT thing in all circumstances is God’s requirement. I believe logic would lead you to this conclusion: If you are walking in the “path of righteousness,” you are being led by the “Good Shepherd.” If you aren’t walking in the path of righteousness, then you are not following the leadership of the Good Shepherd. It is as simple as that.
FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE…
Please, don’t take this lightly. More is at stake in what we do than our personal interests. Think about that carefully. I’m not the only one involved in what I do or where I do. There are consequences for my conduct, and my actions relect not merely on me, but on my family, my Church, my Lord. I read somewhere that the great Gandhi once said he would have become a Christian, if it hadn’t been for the Christians he observed. I never know who’s watching or listening, or how my words and deedsmight affect others. It would certainly be wise if we lived our lives in such a manner that “others may see our good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.”
Look closely at this: The Psalmist says: though I walk THROUGH the valley. Not just down to it. THROUGH IT. Don’t miss that important thought!
THE SHADOW OF DEATH. Do look closely at this. The Bible never acknowledges “death” as anything other than a spectre. It has no substance. It is a mere “shadow.” I’ve been frightened by shadows before, but they don’t have any power to harm anyone. Except, perhaps, in your imagination.
In the New Testament Paul compared death to an insect and asked: “O, death,where is thy sting?” In that analogy, it was like a bee who’s stung something and anyone with a small knowledge of science knows once the bee’s stinger is lost, it cannot sting again. It will, in fact, die. Using that analogy, the Bible says Jesus has plucked the “stinger” out of death and someday death, itself, shall die.
It is a shadow. It is a defeated foe.
“I WILL FEAR NO EVIL. . .” If you were unaware of the great victory Christ won and shares with His followers, could you really, confidently say such a thing? How? For my part, if I run into something scary I get scared. If it’s dark, seems sinister and some spooky music is being played and I’m watching a scary movie, I close my eyes and shut my ears. I’m a wimp, I guess.
We’re talking about courage in the face of death and danger. In the face of life’s greatest challenge, its ultimate enemy, how could anyone say: “I will fear no evil?” I would guess they’re bluffing, or they don’t realize the enormity and finality of such an event. Or how suddenly and quickly the light of life can be extinguished and how weak and helpless all life is when death invades.
However, suppose I realize that the “Shepherd,” The “Saviour,” The Great Victor over Death is right here with me Right now. No matter what the circumstances may be. No matter how dark and deep the valley may be, here’s hope you can cling to: “The Lord your God is with you, wherever you go.” “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Those are quotes taken straight from the Bible, a couple of them right from the mouth of Jesus.
I reckon, if I know the Lord is with me, I can just stick my chest out, hold my head high, and march calmly, confidently right on through the “shadow” into the eternal sunlight and “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Incidentally, it is not just at the time of death that God promises His presence. He’s made the same commitment to be with you in life, as well as death. If you ever pay attention to anything I write, please grasp and cherish that fact. It is so important that the Lord Himself reminds us often in other places of His constant presence in our lives. In YOUR life. It’s a sacred, solemn promise He’s made which you can claim. It is reality you can experience. He’s on record as saying He’d be with you always, everywhere! Amen!
A servant and fellow student, donkimrey