PSALM 23 REFLECTIONS
By Lori Willard
We all know Psalm 23 by heart. It is so familiar that we have a tendency of skimming through it without really thinking of each word or phrase. Here is a challenge: ask the Lord to highlight the parts of the Psalm He wants you to meditate on as you slowly and thoughtfully read through it.
The following is a glimpse of what the Lord did for my personal time.
Psalm 23 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Lord the Shepherd of His People
A Psalm of David.
23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd;
My Shepherd is the Ruler of the Universe! He is The Best of the best when it comes to shepherding! Shepherds take meticulous care of their flock – individually. I have read the book called, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller” which describes the specific care that sheep need and what the Shepherd does for His sheep. Oh! How the Lord knows my specific needs and He knows how to take care of me – personally – whether I have emotional, mental, physical or spiritual issues going on. Thank you, Lord! You take care of me so precisely!!
I shall not want.
Here lies a problem. What do I desire with relationships, things, money, etc.? Do I want to see life be different? Am I discontent? Do I whine? J Discontentment leads to discouragement. Discouragement leads to impatience. Impatience leads to refusing to trust the Lord! Oh! That’s not good! The Lord reminded me of the Israelites in a recent sermon! Hmmm…..my wants need to be held onto lightly and also given to the Lord – allowing Him to do with them as He pleases so I do not open my heart to unrest, disorder, and chaos. If I have inner-turmoil, where is the room in my heart for Him to help me grow in righteousness? If I fill my soul with wants and/or anxiety, there is little room for God to fill me. He so longs for me to dump all that so He can fill me with Himself and all He has for me! God’s abundance will wipe away all my wants!
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He provides a peaceful and protected resting place for me where there is plenty of provision. Lying down on the green grass with no cares and being protected by Our Heavenly Father brings about peaceful and contented thoughts. Pastures are a dwelling place or a place of habitation for me. I need to spend time here. Well, “here” is quietly being in His Word – meditating.
He leads me beside the still waters.
He is my guide as I am with Him by those quiet, restful waters. He shows me His will. He provides rest and calm for my soul.
3 He restores my soul;
My soul can be so in need of Your healing! I am elated You will restore me and make me into Your chosen woman of God!
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Thank you for directing me in the right and true way for Your purposes! As You direct me, I can point others to Your direction from Your Word!
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
Isn’t that fun?! I just realized that it is not the valley of death but, the SHADOW! That shadow may or may not be the end of my life. It might very well be a trial that I am going through! Shadows are a change of light – only! Nothing to fear!
I will fear no evil;
Well, there you go! No fear!!
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
I thank you, Lord that You are with me because Your Presence brings peace! I appreciate your correction and your guidance because they DO comfort me! Your comfort is so indescribable!
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Would you look at that! God is setting up a banquet for me right in the middle of the battlefield! Reminds me of a picnic that my husband, son and I had at a local gun range! Seems strange but, again, it brings calmness to my heart knowing I can be in the midst of turmoil and also be “dining” with the King! Wow! His Word is that important for my daily life!!!
You anoint my head with oil;
Anointing in the Bible is used for blessing, protection, healing, and for certain offices of authority. What does God want to anoint me with today?
My cup runs over.
That is surely true! Do I appreciate the abundance the Lord gives me (time in His Word, time to worship, time with family, time with friends, my health and home, etc.)? Do I thank and praise Him for it? How about daily praising Him for His abundance?
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
Goodness - “The moral qualities which constitute Christian excellence; moral virtue; religion.” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)
Mercy – “It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency (mildness of temper), but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)
These characteristics will pursue me all the days of my life! The Holy Spirit has a way of using the Word to shape and mold me into the person My Heavenly Father desires!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Thank you, Jesus, that you provided THE WAY for me to be with You in Heaven! I thank you that I do dwell with you right now; and in Eternity – so precious – beyond words on a page!
The Battle Belongs to the Lord
By Lori Willard
After a review of my health, my doctor’s response to me was, “Ask the Lord to help you reduce the stress in your life.” Health issues arise when we try to “take on” something the Lord never intended for us to do. It is so helpful to ask for direction from the Lord and follow it to have a healthy life. There is a reason He wants us to be in His word – DIRECTION, it’s a good thing! The battle belongs to Him and not us!
So, in my devotional time, the Lord showed me that I don’t need to fight every battle that comes my way. I need to choose my battles wisely – with His direction. If I see a battle, I need to come to Him in prayer. That’s it! He will let me know if He wants me involved beyond that.
The enemy can get me distracted from my main mission by enticing me to fight the wrong battles, and thus, I can get worn out. My fight is not against people but against evil forces in the spiritual realm. Ephesians 6:12. Spiritual battles are fought and won on my knees!
Jehoshaphat heard there were armies which desired to come against him and his kingdom. When he heard the news, he set out to seek the Lord and to proclaim a fast in the region. All the people followed as they all asked for the Lord’s help. They proclaimed that they had no power or did not know what to do but their eyes were on God.
God’s response to them…
2 Chronicles 20:15 NKJV “And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and your inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s’.”
2 Chronicles 20:17 NKJV “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”
After hearing from the Lord, all the people worshipped the Lord.
2 Chronicles 20:21 NKJV “And when he (Jehoshaphat) had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:
“Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever.”
As they sang and praised, the Lord did the fighting for them.
Lesson: Not every battle needs to be fought by me. The Lord asks me to seek Him, pray, worship Him and sing praises. He will let me know if I am to be involved beyond that. If I find myself in the midst of a war, I am to have no fear. I need to call on Him and He will deliver. Recalling His words… “the battle is not yours, but God’s!”