by Leigh Ann Dilley on March 20, 2023
If you missed the IF Gathering over the weekend, it was exceptional! I want to share some of my “takeaways”. The focus of the weekend was reading and applying Psalm 23 to our lives.
Throughout the event we had wonderful worship sessions. Worship is so important, please don’t underestimate it. It places Jesus in the forefront of our minds, body, and spirit. When He is on the throne of our heart, there is no room for any other god or idol there. Theologically, this would open our hearts to the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 23 opens with a proclamation: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. This proclamation is a personal one and may prompt a heart change. We are used to leading ourselves, but here, Jesus wants to lead us. As sheep, who follow the shepherd, we may not know where we are going. Jesus may even lead us to places we don’t want to go, but Psalm 23 promises we will be safe, we can rest, and be restored, while lying in green pastures and beside still waters. Incidentally, sheep do not lie down until they feel safe, fed, and are free from tensions and pests (anything that bugs them). If we are tired or anxious or empty, or need healing, it’s a promised place of rest.
Next, we are guided onto paths of righteousness. Jesus walks beside us but He will not walk for us. The Christian life is not a passive life. We need to actively move along the path He shows us.
When we come to the valley of the shadow of death (vs), these are the dark times in life. Psalm 23 promises God is right beside us through these times and we have nothing to fear. Do we believe that? How would we respond to these tough times if we did? Pray through these rough times. Psalm 46:1 says God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Do you know the main function of the shepherd’s rod and staff was to fight off predators of the sheep? David did! He himself was a shepherd. David says: I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (vs 4) One speaker compared this verse to a marriage vow. You promise to share life together till death parts you. We don’t know what life will look like, but we promise to be there for each other and weather life’s ups and downs together. In this life/world we have an enemy, but in vs 5, we see the shepherd provides a victory for us in preparing a table. Jesus has already won this victory. The battle was His. Our cup overflows with blessing because Jesus already drank the cup of wrath.
The last verse (vs 6) refers to God’s covenant to never leave us. Surely, goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. If we feel alone or forgotten, we must not rely on our feelings, but on these promises of God’s.
Are you programmed to play it safe? The promises of Psalm 23 should make us confident and give us courage to take risks, even during times of trial. We’re promised God’s strength, guidance, presence, provision, and protection, not to mention the Holy Spirit! Time is short. Jesus will come again. Are you living the life Christ intended you to live?