The Lord My Shepherd

Psalm 23:1  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 4
Any pious Jew having a renewed nature, in old time, might know and use this psalm, saying, "Jehovah, my Shepherd." The holiness of God was not fully revealed, and therefore the conscience not disquieted, and the distance not felt. They knew the favor of God, and counted on His goodness then; but now we are brought into the light, and see what judgment is. The veil is rent, and God's holiness is manifested, for we are in the light, as He is in the light, through Jesus. "The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth." 1 John 2:88Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. (1 John 2:8).
Now that sin has been fully shown out-the death of Christ proving what the enmity of the heart was—this matter must be settled. I cannot say, "I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever," if I have not the knowledge of sins forgiven. I cannot talk of confidence if I have a fear of judgment and I see the desert of sin in the light of His holiness. I cannot consistently speak of One who may be my judge, that He is my Shepherd, and I shall dwell with Him. To know Him as our Shepherd, we must not have the matter of sins being forgiven, unsettled. God cannot let sin into His presence. There must be a conscience purged. Christ has been accepted, and He puts us into His place, having made peace through the blood of His cross. He has "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:2626For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26)). "By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." Heb. 10:1414For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14). He has "entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption." Heb. 9:1212Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Hebrews 9:12).
The starting point of Christian experience is God is for us; and "if God be for us, who can be against us?" I am the object of His favor, which is better than life. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters." I shall find good everywhere. I shall lie down, no one making me afraid. Though the wolf may prowl in the way, I lie down in green pastures. It is "He leadeth me," and that must be in perfect peace and enjoyment, "beside the still waters."
This is the natural Christian state. We realize all things ours, for God is for us; therefore we may lie down.
We shall have conflict, etc., but amidst it all, is enjoyment. If the sorrow gets between our souls and God, so as to produce distrust, it is sin. Even if sin comes in, sad as it is, He can restore the soul. Whether from trouble or from offending, He can restore. See what thoughts are here given about God! The psalmist does not say, I must get my soul restored and then go to God, but "He restoreth my soul." So "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father." 1 John 2:11My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1). Who can restore but He? There may be something to correct in us, if not actually a fall. There may be hardness in my heart, which trouble shows me, and the like. But if He restores, it is "for His name's sake." Whatever I am, God is for me, and not only in this way, but also against enemies. For, "though I walk through the valley," etc. v. 4. Man had reason to quail at death before Christ came, but now in the fullest sense we need "fear no evil." Death is "ours" now. "We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead." 2 Cor. 1:99But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: (2 Corinthians 1:9). If they took my life, they could not hurt me, for I was trusting to One who could raise me. Paul as good as says, If they take this life, I have lost nothing; no, it is positive gain, for it hastens me on the road. Death is not terrible now. Why? "Thou art with me." It is terrible without this.
"Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." It is not a rod, but Thine, so I shall fear no evil. No one can compete with God. Death is the very thing by which Christ has saved me, and it is that by which He may take me into His presence—"Absent from the body,... present with the Lord." It may come as a trial to exercise my soul. Well, I have to remember, "Thou art with me."
There is not only failure in life and failure in death to meet, but there are mighty enemies (v. 5). Nevertheless, I can sit down among them, and find everything given me for food. In the presence of all, I can sit down and say, I have done with them all, for "Thou art with me." I have found that power by which they are made nothing to me. Then we arrive at further security, joy, and blessedness still: "Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over." Now that Christ has ascended, and the Holy Ghost has been given, there is triumphant peace and abounding joy through the power of the Holy Ghost.
I now find God Himself the source of all, and not only this as a present thing, but seeing what God is, I can say, "Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." For us it is the Father's house. There are not only blessings conferred, but a place to dwell with the Father forever. Whatever it be we meet with by the way, we know it is all for good, and we shall dwell forever with Him. Wonderful grace!