The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23

Who out here has never needed to be comforted to be reminded that they are loved? We need that type of care. We find ourselves longing for not necessarily recognition, but to be recognized, to be seen, to be known to the extent that we would not be alone.

Oh, the wonderful and familiar parts of the Word of God. Well, maybe a good word is comfort. The parts of scripture that we sometimes lose sight of, but when we hear them we find our comfort again. Like when you are frustrated about something and a little child asks the simple question of whether or not you prayed.

This Psalm is that for many. It is often that source of comfort to me. When the difficult moments arise, and I feel nothing but confusion because darkness or lack of answers cloud what may happen. This psalm reminds me of the simple yet profoundly impactful truths.

Psalm 23 is a psalm of great comfort and still one of great appeal to life. The contrasts between the opening verses and the final two sections are deeply revealing to how we will go through life and approach our perspective situations.

With that said, even when we confidently and adamantly declare the opening statement it is all too often that we do not with the same level of confidence and assertion declare the second part of the sentence to be as true. I lack nothing!

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. – Psalm 23:1-3

Play back with me in your memory of when you first found your new life in Christ. As the Lord puts it to the church of Ephesus remember your first love (Rev 2:4-5)! Remember what it was like when you first put your life in the hands of Jesus and believed in His salvation.

Take comfort in what is known!

As familiar as this psalm is to you I hope your memory of hope, trust, and complete peace found in Christ is familiar. Look not for something  new and unique that will standout to you as you read this Psalm, look to the verse that has comforted and encouraged an innumerable amount of people over the centuries.

       The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

We need not parse what it means to lack or what a shepherd is. We understand that God cares for us and that when we are cared for by Him and put in His fold we will not need. This is the hope that is given to the broken, to the dying, to the lost and lonely, to the desperate and ashamed.

This is the statement held by the martyr as he watches his family die for the name of Jesus. This is the reminder we cling to as the days grow long and burdensome. This is the Lord the God who has never been shaken or had to retreat, the Lord watches over me I need for nothing.

You know that He is good, you know that He is God, and you know that as a good God He will bring comfort and lead you to places of peace. This is a truth you should be confident in. This truth of who God is should be a pillar that you rest in. You should know He is your strong tower. He is the mighty one. He is the everlasting King over all.

So, cling to that moment when you first believed. Cling to the trust you had at first. Cling to the moment when you believed that God is God and nothing else matters. Fight furiously for understanding in who He is and the magnitude of what that means for you.

You are sure that He leads you and puts you in places for His name’s sake. He has brought you to where you are with a purpose. If you are in the quiet place of rest, rejoice. He has brought you to a place that gives you a glimpse of what it is to be with Him for eternity. Remember these moments. Remember you confidence in who God is.

Take comfort during what is unknown!

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

If you know your God is good, if you know He is leading you on the right path, then you can find comfort through the unknown. Remembering how confident you were in God before makes a way to have confidence when all seems to go wrong.

How often have you had everything set, your plans have been made, doublechecked yet as you move forward everything goes wrong. What seemed so clear once is now dark and seemingly unescapable.

We’ve all had that moment when life seems insurmountable. For a child it could be as simple as losing a toy. For a student it could be the school situations with friends breaking down. For an adult it is that moment when the job you worked for and built your life around does not come to fruition and you are working somewhere you never wanted to or worse you are just trying to find somewhere to work.

How dark a moment does it have to be to be unknown and to be a little more than uncomfortable. But, have you ever met that person whose life is for lack of a better word terrible, and yet they seem confident.

I knew a guy going through a major life transition. His family was going to have to move there was no reason to be excited, yet he was. The major life transition was completely up in the air and there was no reason for confidence, so his friends thought he was a little crazy when he told them everything would be okay.

It’s that moment when you realize more often than not that your plans do not often work. It is that moment when you remember throughout scripture that more often than not when the people of God tried to force an issue, do something in their own power, be strategic, God says, “I have something better. You think these things will save you, help you, but what you don’t see is that I am here and there is no need to fear.”

It’s those moments when you look around the world at the faithful servants who have no riches, no homes, no protection yet are confident in the Lord. When you hear of the love and faith in God from those who walk through a slum in Haiti, to the churches established in garbage dumps outside of Lima, Peru. They are confident not in their situation or power over it. They are confident in Christ. 

The Israelites wandered through the wilderness, many with no hope to ever see the promised land. David ran from Saul and had to hide in a new place often because of the army coming against him. David did not know how he would become king and wept bitterly at how it came about. The bitterness was not squelched once king, as king David fled the great city of Jerusalem because his own sons bloodthirsty wicked drive for the kingship.

David’s very enemies were his closest friend’s father whom he faithfully served and blessed for years and his own son. David was amidst his enemies throughout his life. The darkest moments in David’s life were brought about by those closest to him, including himself.

Your comfort through the unknown is found in the God who knows you. The one who uses the rod and staff to both guide you and protect you from enemies while move through the treacherous parts of life.

Take comfort in the familiarity of who He is. Let this psalm remind you of the love you had at first that wiped away the darkness and all of its doubts and you realize that the promises of God are the same as they have always been, steady, faithful, and mighty to save.

Take comfort in what the Lord has prepared everywhere forever!

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:5-6

Most notably here is how the imagery changes in this text to one where God is not simply guiding or bringing the psalmist somewhere. The psalmist, the believer, has arrived. They are found to be in the presence of God. They have reached what the they have been reaching for. The have reached a continued finality of the presence of the Lord.

Is that not the greatest joy? The presence of the Lord is the greatest need we have. If we have the presence of the eternal God do we not have all that we need. It’s a fantastic perspective?

But, it is more than simply being in the presence of God. It is more than simply finding out who God is or remaining with Him. God has prepared a place. He is preparing you, as He anoints you head with oil.

And, for many of us when we think of oil it is not the same as here. We think of either peanut, olive, or vegetable oil in our kitchen. Maybe we think of whether we want Mobile One annual protection and debate whether we want synthetic or traditional oil for our vehicle.

This is where “Essential Oils” helps us see scripture more vividly. The oil here is one of fantastic aromas and valuable. You all may have experienced the oils craze going on! It is not new oils were a celebratory and major part of the culture in the Ancient Near East, I don’t think the price margin has changed much either…

Oils for anointing and a table prepared for us amidst our enemies show how God has invited us to celebrate not simply amidst the greatest moments of life, He invites us to celebrate throughout the worst of times because He is there. One of the greatest things about our active and involved Lord is how He is not out of touch with reality. In fact, now, the God of universe has come into His creation and been the sheep lead to slaughter.

God has become present not only through His life and death in Jesus Christ, He is still more than present in the lives of the believers. The Holy Spirit dwells in the believers transforming and renewing us from the inside out. What is a greater source of joy, comfort, and confidence then the fact that God is in you.

The contrast between the first few verses, where everything is right for those who follow the Lord, and the second section, where those who follow the Lord are found in utter despair, is culminated in the final moments of the psalm. You can have a meal confidently with the Lord while your enemies watch.

You still have those who would aim to destroy you. Remember the writer of this psalm is David, and his life was not only at risk as he approached the giant of a man Goliath. David had become a man of war and a man whose life was hunted by his own king that he aimed to serve.

Take a moment to comfort and encourage someone this week.

When it comes to being confident in the Lord through the good times and bad you have to have a story. Where have people seen your confidence and thought that you are simply crazy and are a little worried about it?

This is important. When life is great, when things are monetarily and relationally going better than expected, and or when your plans seem to be moving forward with ease it is fantastic to praise the Lord and give credit. It is a humbling moment when you realize it is His glory being seen and not yours. But, it is an entirely different motif and perspective when everything is going wrong and you still are confident in the Lord.

When can you remember that uncertain moment in your life where everything was fine because it’s in God’s time? When have you been confused, bewildered, and completely in the dark and simply said He’ll guide me and protect me?

He is your comfort in the darkness. He is the one who prepares the table and honors you in the presence of those who would destroy you. Trust Him! And, in trusting God through the craziest and worst of moments you will show those around you just how great your God is.