When I gave my life back to God by truly accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior, I began to get a hunger that I have never had before. A hunger for knowledge, for the Word of God, and I began to read things and, I think for the first time in my life, began to get an understanding of the Word. Before I go any further, I want to say that I am not a minister, a theologian, or work in any church. I am just a man who wanted to share his thoughts. You may or may not agree, and that’s ok. I would urge each and every one of you to pray, and hear the truth in your heart for yourselves.
As I said, I am not a scholar, but I began to re-read some of the Scriptures that I read when I was a young boy. I grew up in a church in central Florida (Bethel Church of God in Bartow, Florida), I performed in all the children’s plays, and sang in the choir until I left the church to join the Air Force out of high school. I had exposure to it all, but I left it behind as I “lived life.” Sure, I remembered some of the Scriptures, and foolishly told myself that I was living a “good” life and that was all I needed to be a Christian.
Thank God for correcting that misconception.
As I said, I began to re-read some of those Scriptures. As I did, I began to see things in a light that I never saw them in before. I would like to share one of those with you now. Most of us can recite it by heart. But have you really stopped to think about what it means? I mean…really think? I am going to list it, verse by verse, and tell you what I started really thinking about.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
That seemed pretty straightforward, or so I thought. The Lord is my shepherd. The shepherd cared for his flock, and the Lord cares for us. Yep…pretty straightforward. I shall not want. Want. Want? That word just stuck with me. I began to think about its meaning. To want. In today’s society, when we say we “want”, what we are really saying is that we desire something. We want (desire) a new job, a new car, etc. But in truth, the meaning of to want is more in line with a need. I have heard the phrase “He doesn’t want for anything.” I knew it meant that the person being referred to had everything they needed. So, now I understood the verse to mean that He (God) is my caretaker. I am not going to need anything, because he will take care of it.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Wow. My shepherd is really making sure that I have no worry for (spiritual) illness or injury. Green pastures. He is providing me with the food that I need to make sure that I stay healthy. Still waters. I don’t have to worry about being swept away by a rushing river, because he only takes me to the calm waters.
He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
God is really taking care of me. He is giving me a peace in my soul that I have never felt. There is a calm within me now. I am truly restored. He is guiding me along my life. By keeping me on the “right” path, I bring honor to His name, and shine brightly so that other’s might see His glory.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Finally, I understood this! The psalmist David could not have known it, because it had not been written by Paul yet. According to Paul, the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). So, this valley he writes about is this world we live in. Since death is the result of sin, the shadow of death would be the permeating presence of sin. The shepherd’s rod and his staff were designed so that the sheep could always locate the shepherd if they were farther away, and that the sheep would know which way to go, knowing where their protection was. So, if I interpret it that way, then what David is saying is that “Although I am walking through this world with the shadow of sin all around, I am not worried. He is with me, I can always see him, and my soul can be content knowing he is there”
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Now, why would David say that? God preparing a table before him in the presence of his enemies? Why would he do that? Then I started thinking…again. Uh oh. I know that in the Old Testament, people were anointed when being designated as a high priest, or a similar office. Then I thought, through the blood of Christ, who sacrificed himself for us, we Christians became anointed. And yes, it is in the presence of our enemies. There are so many groups that would love nothing more than to see the Christians eliminated from the face of the earth. But through the anointing of God, through the sacrifice of His son, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, we have been elevated. We have been given the greatest gift that was ever offered, and ever could be. Because of our anointing as children of God, our cups do run over, full of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; full of the grace and mercy of God; overflowing with His love.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
What a promise! What a reward! Praise his Holy name!
To all of you that read this, I pray that something in here touches you. Feast upon the Word of God. Read it not just with your eyes, but with your heart. Allow it to fill you up. Let His love grow within you. Then walk through that “valley”, and fear not. For He is truly with us.