Today, we conclude our series Pull Up a Chair and Rest Awhile.
Over the past few weeks, we have learned:
- God is Our Shepherd
- He leads us into seasons of rest and refreshment
- He encourages us to meet Him in the green meadows and beside the still waters
- He wants our souls and hearts to be refreshed
- We need refreshment – we can’t run on empty and expect to be at our best
- The seasons of rest and refreshment prepare us for valley moments ahead.
- The valleys are tough, and sometimes last longer than we thought
- The Lord is with us in the valley moments and walks beside us
- He is with us to guide and protect us in those valley moments
- When we come out of the valley moments we see our journey with a fresh set of eyes.
As we exit the valley moments, the Lord continues to be with us. He did not leave us to fend for ourselves in those moments. It may have seemed like we were alone, but God was there. Sometimes He remains silent so we will hunger and thirst for Him, and return to Him.
Other times, He is active in our spirit to discipline and restore us. No one likes discipline, but it is part of our journey and necessary for our growth.
Once we have come through the valley, there is nourishment waiting for us.
Psalm 23:5 says,
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.(The Message)
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies (Amplified Bible)
I love the imagery David, the psalmist, shares with us – a meal is prepared by the Lord for us while our enemies surround us.
I never quite understood what this passage meant for us. For David, it meant God had protected him in all of his dealings with King Saul, and God was preparing the throne for him to take in the near future.
For us, after we go through our valleys, we need refreshment and nourishment. God allows us to eat and be restored even in the midst of those who have hurt us, harmed us, or who still want ill will to come to us.
I love how the Message Bible puts it – “you serve me a six course dinner” – doesn’t that sound fantastic! I’m not sure I could eat that much, but if you were running from your enemies, barely eating, and looking for rest, that meal sounds fantastic.
In Max Lucado’s book, Safe in the Shepherd’s Arms, he shares how shepherds during biblical times protected the flock by putting oil at every snake hole preventing the snake from coming out while putting this same oil on the sheep’s nose. By putting this oil on the sheep’s nose, it drove the snakes away. (fn)
What if the shepherd did for you what the shepherd did for his flock? Suppose he, [the Lord] dealt with your enemy, the devil, and prepared for you a safe place of nourishment? Suppose he, [the Lord] , in the hour of your failure, invited you to a meal? What would you say if I told you he has done exactly that? You see, he has called us to himself and invited us to take a permanent place at his table. When we take our place next to the other sinners-made-saints …we share in God’s glory.(fn)
God doesn’t stop at providing for our physical and emotional needs, the second half of Psalm 23:5 says,
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. (The Message)
You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil; My cup overflows. (Amplified Bible)
The Lord restores our countenance that was deeply hurt during our valley experience.
I have had a few valley experiences that have shaken me to the core, and I have needed this verse to help restore me. It doesn’t happen overnight, but over time we are restored.
The imagery of God’s hand lifting our head is powerful. Imagine God standing in front of you, and Him putting His hand under your chin and gently lifting it up so you can see His face – incredible and powerful. This is our God.
The last part of the verse reminds me of the end of the book of Job when after all the heartache has come to Job, the Lord restores and blesses him behind his comprehension…
Job was a faithful servant of the Lord in the Old Testament. Satan came to the Lord and asked to hurt him in order to show that he (Job) would curse God.
Satan attacked him on all fronts – spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally, but Job never wavered in his commitment and love for the Lord.
He had lost everything – his family, his possessions, and even some of his relationships, but afterward, God restored him physically, gave him a double blessing of family, children, and financial resources.
When I see this imagery of my cup overflowing, I see God’s favor and blessing poured out on His children – His sheep.
Sometimes we get mired in the valley that we lose the faith in any blessings being bestowed upon us, but God’s blessings are all around us.
His blessings are new each day. The sunrise and sunset are examples of a new day blessing. A roof over our heads and the food we have is provided by God.
Many times we miss the simplest blessings that are in front of us. If you have children, it’s their smile or the twinkle in their eyes that makes your day – these are blessings from the Lord.
We close Psalm 23 with a beautiful promise,
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life. (The Message)
Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell forever[throughout all my days] in the house and in the presence of the Lord. (Amplified Bible)
David reminds us of God’s beautiful promise – His love, God’s love chases after us every day of our lives.
When human love fails us, and it will, God’s love endures. We can rest in the promise that we are dwelling in the house of the Lord forever, because He (God) is our Shepherd, and we are part of his flock.
Are you back home in God’s house?
Psalm 23 is a call from Our Shepherd to His sheep. It has application for every part of our human existence, but one thing that is inescapable is that apart from God, we will not have life eternal.
If you have never given your life to Jesus, today is a great day to do that. You can pray this simple prayer,
Lord, I know I am a sinner, and I need you. I ask you to come into my heart, forgive me of my sins, and make me whole as only You can. I want you to guide my life so I can live with you in eternity. Amen!
No magic formula – no right words – just you pouring out your heart to God, and asking Him to forgive you and come into your life.
I want to close with how we can began a few weeks ago,
Psalm 23 is an invitation to rest awhile from the burden’s of life, the troubles of today, and to abide in His love.
The Lord calls to us as Our Shepherd. He invites us to rest and release our burdens. He walks with us through our darkest moments, and He invites us to dwell with Him forever.
The beauty of Psalm 23 is wonderful and refreshing. I pray this series has unburdened you, helped your restore, and guided you back to Your Shepherd or invited you to meet The Shepherd.
Lord, thank you for the promises found in Psalm 23 that were written so many years ago. I ask you to restore our souls, unburden our weariness, and live with Your presence daily. I ask you to give me strength for the day or moment when I need it. Thank you for your love, your grace, and your mercy. Amen!
- Safe in the Shepherd's Arms – Max Lucado (book)
- Life Without Lack – Dallas Willard (book)
- Win the Day – Mark Batterson
- Win the Day Devotional Plan
- Fear Gone Wild – Kayla Stoecklein (book)
- Making Time for Rest Bible Plan
- DayOne App
- Beside the Still Waters – Encouragement from Psalm 23 (message) – Dave Anthold