through the pasture// the lord is my shepherd

before i was a Christian, i knew this Psalm.  
when i became a Christian, i learned this Psalm.  

so much of my time knowing the words was really just knowing them in memory.  thanks to some killer sermons, deep commentary, and my dear favorite Bible teacher, Beth Moore, i've become quite attached to the Psalm as a map through life.  these six short verses are packed with promise and certainly enough to get you through anything.

A bit of history:  
(thanks to commentary by my Pastor, Brad Powell, the New Believer's Bible Commentary, and Beth Moore..)

Though many scholars suggest that this Psalm was written when David was young, the vast amount of mature content in just these six short verses causes other scholars to suggest otherwise.  As I sort through the emotions that are left from hearing the analysis of the 23rd Psalm, I find myself most excited to share it with you, and then humbled to embrace it's promises.  

If you've noticed how I have mentioned this Psalm you'll see it's a bit out of the norm.  Not any other Psalm is addressed the way this one is.  Most times we say "Psalm 100" or "Psalm 18"; this one is most often called "The 23rd Psalm."  There are many amazing cries to the Lord that are archived in the Book of Psalms, but this one stands alone in its collective reflection and satisfaction with God's love.  

This is why I am most excited; regardless of when in his life David actually penned these words, there is an applicable message in each verse, written for just about anyone, believer or not.  As I take you through each verse I will touch on the points that Beth did as well as some background info on David to further  drive the point home.  Short and sweet, but you'll be filled just the same.

With all of that said, I will dive in 

and as I write this I am praying that you 
find the message meant for you :)

The 23rd Psalm reads a little something like this..

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 
he restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 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 goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

**During the video lesson at the end of the David study, Beth Moore read this aloud from the King James Version and my goodness was it emotional just in that.  Almost immediately you could hear sniffles and silent "Amen" whispers around the room.. there was certainly much, much healing connected to these words**
today we'll dive into the first 3 passages

The LORD is my shepherd

The LORD, as it is written in all capitals this way, denotes the God that is described as "I AM THE I AM."  He is LORD of all; creator of all.  Most important here is that David penned it to remind himself of who his God is; the God that was, is and is to come.  

As a shepherd himself, David could not think of any better way to describe the God that cares for him, watches over him, guides him and protects him.  He would seek out lost sheep in the fields, feed them when they were hungry, comfort them when they were sick, and weep when they were lost forever.  

shepherds are actually defined as “feeders.”  sheep didn’t feed in pens or barns, but grazed and foraged the open land.  They would be lost without a shepherd; they might not make it through the seasons of their lives where the weather took a turn for the tough.  the sheep survive solely because the shepherd has a personal interest in their well-being, leads them to water and food, and abides in the fields with them.  

God is just that to His children.

I shall not be in want

The KJV simply says "I shall not want."  Though it rarely happens, I find that this is one of the times where it's a true blessing that a couple words were added to the NIV translation.  To be in want is to be captive to a need.  To be in want is to rely on something.  To be in want, in this case, is to be in want of the world and it's distractions from the truth.  For us to say "I shall not want" just doesn't cut it; wants come and go.  But to be in want encompasses the plague of a deadly want that drives a wedge deeper between us and our Heavenly Father.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, 
He leads me beside quiet waters

As David knew what his sheep needed, so does the LORD.  He makes us lie down in green pastures, surrounded by His glory and presence and He leads us beside quiet waters, full of peace.  God will always guide His children to where they are supposed to be, but just as sheep wander, so do we.  The one point that Beth made that hit me was that He MAKES us lie down.. we forget that He can and will do what He pleases with His sovereign power, when He decides to do so.  Think about that..

His peace is never out of reach, though it may seem so.  the fact i'm learning as i go through life is that it is always there, i just must seek it.  i must seek His peace, and strength and comfort.  it is never that it is unavailable.. it is always that i'm too lazy or proud to go after it.  and then, yes, there are times where He can and will shut down the physical world to get our attention and bring us to the throne.  

stalled cars.. long trains..  sickness.. a layoff...

all ways that God may use His power to get us to lie down and be with Him for a moment

He restores my soul.  
He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

The next verse is profound for David due to his past and its sinful history.  Here David praises God in saying "he restores my soul."  To restore is to bring something back.  Isn't that what our God is always trying to do; bring us back to Him?  

And how He does so is even more remarkable; He guides us in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Here is David's ultimate praise, as he was one who turned away from God but still speaks on the urge in his heart to always do the right thing.  

God does not force, though He can.  God guides and waits for His children to be obedient.  Doesn't that word make you shudder?  It should; it bears a lot of weight and responsibility.  But direct obedience leads to a life of joy, and no matter when David found that joy, it is present in this verse.  God doesn't make us perfect; we've already shown Him that we will not be perfect.  What He does do, however, is inject us with His power and give us opportunity to use it.  Here's how:

Philippians 2:13 reads
"for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."

That word "works" is translated from the original Greek word "energeo" and it literally means "to put forth power."  God literally injects His power into us, and it is up to us to use it.  He didn't just give this power to an empty person either; we have a heart, mind and conscience that tells us when and how to use this power.  Problem is, we have a wicked one (the devil) who tells us that we are incapable of using it.  The best thing we can do to please God and shut down evil is to faithfully and obediently act on those deep-rooted feelings that arise.  In doing so we glorify Him; we are acting according to His will, for His name's sake!

are you loving this yet?  

did you already know this?

if not, has anything stirred your heart today?

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