Let It Be – Connie Talbot with Young Voices Choir – O2 Arena London
Starring Donny Osmond as Joseph. From the film version of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’.
The ordering of the Psalter is no accident. As English pastor and theologian Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) observed, it is only after we have read My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Ps 22:1) that we come to â€œThe LORD is my shepherdâ€ (Ps 23:1).
Experience teaches us that I lack nothing cannot mean that we will always receive what we desire even if our wants are in keeping with God’s general principles. A man may long to become a missionary, only to be paralyzed in an automobile accident. A woman with wonderful potential as a Christian mother may remain infertile. And what about those desires to improve our lot in life? Many of God’s sheep, both at home and abroad, are hungry, naked ”even dying”at this very moment. The meaning of I lack nothing is that I will never lack anything necessary to my ultimate good ”which God has wrapped up with his own (cf. Ro 8:28,38-39).
The fact is that if this psalm had no valley in it (v. 4), it wouldn’t have any comfort either. When we pass through life’s valleys, we have the assurance that we will never lack anything required for our eternal well-being. The only reason a shepherd would guide his sheep into a dangerous valley would be to lead them through it to a better place (see Heb 11:16,40).
In his personal role as a real-life shepherd, Phillip W. Keller has reflected extensively on Psalm 23. Following are extracts from his observations on Psalm 23:5:
In thinking about [the] statement You prepare a table before me it is well to bear in mind that the sheep are approaching this high mountain country of the summer ranges. These are known as alplands or tablelands so much sought after by the sheepmen.
In some of the finest sheep country of the world, especially in the Western United States and Southern Europe, the high plateau of the sheep ranges are always referred to as mesasâ ”the Spanish word for tables.
So it may be seen that what David referred to as a table was actually the entire high summer range. Though these mesasâ may have been remote and hard to reach, the energetic and aggressive sheep owner takes the time and trouble to ready them for the arrival of his flocks.
It is not always apparent to us what tremendous personal cost it has been for Christ to prepare the table for His own. Just as the lonely, personal privation of the sheepman who prepares the summer range for his stock entails a sacrifice, so the lonely agony of Gethsemane, of Pilateâ’s hall, of Calvary, have cost my Master much.
Lord, you are my shepherd. I have everything I need. You give me peace and guide me to do right. Even when bad things happen, I will not be afraid because you are there beside me. Thank you for all you give me.
“This do in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:24
It seems then, that Christians may forget Christ! There could be no need for this loving exhortation, if there were not a fearful supposition that our memories might prove treacherous. Nor is this a bare supposition: it is, alas! too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb, and loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should forget that gracious Saviour; but, if startling to the ear, it is, alas! too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the crime. Forget him who never forgot us! Forget him who poured his blood forth for our sins! Forget him who loved us even to the death! Can it be possible? Yes, it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault with all of us, that we suffer him to be as a wayfaring man tarrying but for a night. He whom we should make the abiding tenant of our memories is but a visitor therein. The cross where one would think that memory would linger, and unmindfulness would be an unknown intruder, is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness. Does not your conscience say that this is true? Do you not find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should fix your eye steadily upon the cross. It is the incessant turmoil of the world, the constant attraction of earthly things which takes away the soul from Christ. While memory too well preserves a poisonous weed, it suffereth the rose of Sharon to wither. Let us charge ourselves to bind a heavenly forget-me-not about our hearts for Jesus our Beloved, and, whatever else we let slip, let us hold fast to him.
“Blessed is he that watcheth.”
“We die daily,” said the apostle. This was the life of the early Christians; they went everywhere with their lives in their hands. We are not in this day called to pass through the same fearful persecutions: if we were, the Lord would give us grace to bear the test; but the tests of Christian life, at the present moment, though outwardly not so terrible, are yet more likely to overcome us than even those of the fiery age. We have to bear the sneer of the world–that is little; its blandishments, its soft words, its oily speeches, its fawning, its hypocrisy, are far worse. Our danger is lest we grow rich and become proud, lest we give ourselves up to the fashions of this present evil world, and lose our faith. Or if wealth be not the trial, worldly care is quite as mischievous. If we cannot be torn in pieces by the roaring lion, if we may be hugged to death by the bear, the devil little cares which it is, so long as he destroys our love to Christ, and our confidence in him. I fear me that the Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and silken days than in those rougher times. We must be awake now, for we traverse the enchanted ground, and are most likely to fall asleep to our own undoing, unless our faith in Jesus be a reality, and our love to Jesus a vehement flame. Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God. Christian, do not think that these are times in which you can dispense with watchfulness or with holy ardour; you need these things more than ever, and may God the eternal Spirit display his omnipotence in you, that you may be able to say, in all these softer things, as well as in the rougher, “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
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