April 22, 2014
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 22 April 2014
One of the greatest fears of humanity is death. However, death cannot harm the child of God. When his wife died to cancer, Donald Grey Barnhouse (who was one of America’s leading Bible teachers in the first half of the 20th century) had to explain the death to his three young children. Seeking to comfort his children who were mourning the loss of their mother, Barnhouse saw a large truck on the highway and an analogy was brought to mind. Barnhouse asked his children, “Would you rather be run over by that truck or its shadow?” His oldest daughter replied, “By the shadow, I guess. It cannot hurt you.” Barnhouse told his children, “Your mother has not been overridden by death, but by the shadow of death. That is nothing to fear.”
One of the comforting messages of Psalm 23 is that death is nothing for the believer to fear. The reason is that the Lord God will take his people “through the valley of the shadow of death.”
1 Corinthians 15:54, 57 – But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory . . . but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord is faithful to his people! Psalm 23 contains the imagery of a shepherd with his flock to express the relationship of a believer with God. Most of you know the experience of being a weary traveler, and how wonderful it is to enjoy the care of a loving host. Psalm 23 depicts God in that very relationship to his people, and also conveys the abundant grace of God for all believers who need his provision.
Psalm 23 begins with an analogy of a shepherd and his flock, which describes the relationship between the Lord and his people. The psalm is based upon this familiar relationship of a shepherd to his sheep, which King David knew from experience. Moreover, he was accustomed to the many responsibilities of the shepherd as a consequence of the undependable character of sheep. The relationship described is personal: “The LORD is my shepherd.” The grace and love of God allow his flock to say, “I shall not want.”
The remaining verses of this psalm emphasize the context of the very personal relationship of the believer with the Lord. The shepherd has an essential relationship and responsibility in relation to the lives of the sheep. The imagery of God as Shepherd emphasizes his role in relation to His people: (1) He supplies their needs; (2) He subdues their fears; and, (3) He satisfies their longings.
The Lord supplies the needs of his people. God provides rest, restoration, and guidance (23:2-3). God bestows true peace and satisfaction. He alone provides calm assurance (23:2). Moreover, it is the Lord — the good Shepherd — who restores the soul (cf. Isa 49:5; Ps 19:7; 60:1; Hos 14:1-3; Joel 2:12), both physically and spiritually (Ps 23:3). Whereas people may lack a sense of direction, the one who trusts in the God of Scripture will be guided “in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (23:3).
The Lord subdues the fears of his people (23:4). Even the fear of death is banished by his presence (“You are with me”) and his protection (“Your rod and Your staff”). The Lord is always present to guard and guide his flock by dispelling all fear, as He leads them in the best and most effective direction. Even when evil is surrounding the believer, the Word of God and his loving care are most effective to guard and guide his faithful servants.
The Lord satisfies the longings of his people (24:5-6). God is a shepherd to his people by serving as a gracious host who provides bountifully for his people (23:5). His goodness and lovingkindness are provisions to those who belong to Him and they endure for all their days (23:6). God does not merely satisfy temporal longings. He cares for those who belong to Him for all their days, and then provides for them “in the house of the LORD forever” (cf. Rom 8:38-39).
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Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.