We’re headed full speed into the holidays, y’all. Someone please tell me how it is already halfway through November. As much as I always hope this coming season is the merriest and brightest, it tends to lean more towards the busiest and most stressful. This go round I’m choosing to lean on Psalm 23 and all its powerful promises in the midst of the full-on chaos. We may be at the end of our blog series, friends, but there is so much more in store within these final verses of Psalm 23! Hope is on the way and I’m praying for us to be able to slow down just enough to rest in these soul-replenishing stanzas!
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
If you’re looking for a way to make this personal to you, I like to make this a personal fill in the blank:
“Even though I walk through (*insert your struggle here: failure, betrayal, loss, defeat, etc*), I will (*choose to trust the Lord, look to Him for wisdom, praise His name, stay the course, etc.*).”
Why does the Psalm say, I will not fear? Don’t miss this: God is with you. His rod and staff comfort us. 2 Corinthians 1:3 says He is the God of All Comfort. The peace and comfort He provides is not based on our circumstances – it is securely anchored to who He is! We are up against spiritual warfare and a continuous battle in this world, but when we choose not to fear and choose to place our burdens and worries into the hands of the Good Shepherd, fear is trumped, victory is ours and peace prevails – even in the storm!
In times of trouble, I will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring whose waters never fail. -- Isaiah 58:11
The Lord will fight for me, I need only be still! -- Exodus 14:14
So, even though we walk through the ‘valley of the shadow of death’, I will fear no evil because He is with me, just as He promises. His character never changes. It says in Hebrews that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the unshakeable Rock Eternal. You better believe I want to put my hope in something that does not alter or vary. His love for me never changes and His love for you never changes – it never ceases and never fails. Hoping in any other place will end with grave disappointment and remarkable emptiness.
Psalm 34 mentions how He is with us in the pain and despair – He is near to the broken hearted and with those who are crushed in Spirit. He is not distant – He is with you and near you. This reminds me of one of my favorite Bethel songs, ‘No Longer a Slave’: I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God. I am surrounded by the arms of the Father. I am surrounded by songs of deliverance. There is so much power in those lyrics. God is incessantly fighting behind the scenes on your behalf – all for your good and all for His glory.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you, declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. – Isaiah 41:13-14
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. – Psalm 34:7
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. – Psalm 18:2
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. –Proverbs 3:5
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? –Romans 8:31
If there’s one thing I’ve had to learn and relearn more times than I can count, it’s that God’s bold rescue and radical saving of us from our defiance and sin is not the end of our story. He does this over and over and over again. The liberation experience often begins an uprooting of some the darkest crevices in our lives, and thus the restoration and refinement processes have begun! The Lord uses difficult circumstances to transform us from the inside out – to heal our souls and restore the pathways of trusting in Him, even when it isn’t comfortable or convenient.
Although He is the God of Comfort, His goal isn’t to make our lives easy breezy. Nope—it’s usually quite the contrary. Being comfortable is not where healing or fabulous, eternal fruit grows! What if when we’re busy avoiding risks, pain and hardships, we’re missing out on some of God’s deepest, most hidden treasures? What if pain is the key that unlock the abundance awaiting? We should consider it an invitation to intimacy and abundance, not condemnation or oversight or rejection that leads to scarcity.
But let’s not forget the enemy is against us. He wants us to think that pain will magically go away if we ignore it. He knows what’s waiting for us on the other side and he doesn’t want us to have anything to do with it. He wants us to wallow and to feel stuck and to let it be the very thing that defines us. We’ve been trained by the enemy to think discomfort is what we should hate and avoid at all costs. But what if the opposite is true though? What if our appetite for comfort could be replaced with an openness to what God has for us? What if God has allowed this painful season to enter your life so that you may draw nearer to Him, to enter His presence and leave this season changed and transformed.
You’re a lot stronger than you think you are. God knows this to be true, too.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” Psalm 23:5
Did you get the invitation? A royal table is set for you by the Highest King! He sets the stage for a Glory Story (glory for Himself and renewal for you)! People are watching; people are always looking at those who are walking through hard times and the Lord says, my beloved, come with me, have a seat and let’s dine. You are my guest. Come and have the best seat at my table. Come into this quiet place just the two of us.
Can you imagine this exquisite banquet table with me?
Do you remember that scene from the first Harry Potter movie when the students sit down for their first meal at Hogwarts? Professor Dumbledore snapped his finger and an abundant amount of food appeared on the table in front of them – imagine that times 100, maybe even 1000 and it’s all for you. This table is filled with nourishment and harvest – it won’t just satisfy your hunger, it will satisfy your soul.
My favorite dinner parties are the ones where I leave feeling renewed and filled to the brim. You know what I’m talking about? The ones where friends allow you to catch your breath, the ones where you laugh so hard you cry, the ones where people look at you and say I see you? Where you are seen, known, heard and deeply loved. Hello, let’s multiply this one times 1000 too. While you’re seated at His table, you are renewed, filled, healed and made whole.
This Glory Story is not one of scarcity or emptiness. It’s a story perhaps that will change the live of those watching as well. His table is packed with not only sustenance but with life-altering grace, personal intimacy and with relational beauty that is authentic and true. He longs to know you better and for you to grasp how loved and valued you are by Him! He longs to meet our needs and to bless us! So He prepares that table, just for you! He’s waiting for your arrival.
He begins to replenish you and pour into you at His life-giving table with the hopes that you’ll walk out having “tasted and seen that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) and go share your story with others about how faithful He is, what His love can do to a life, to testify of His wonders, His miracles worked on your behalf, and that He uses your pain, your story, your regrets, your loss, your failures to then possibly institute revival in the lives of others around you. “Let the redeemed of the Lord share their story!” (Psalm 107:2) He wants us to be seed planters by sharing our story with others and thus being apart of cultivating relationships for the Lord and watching that we have a purpose-filled place in the harvest!
“He anoints my head with oil; my cup overflows!” Psalm 23:5b
He anoints our heads with oil -- a symbol of blessing you, praying protection, favor, healing and covering over you. And it overflows, y’all!! The Lord is not giving you a stingy cup of wine or a sparing plate of food. His story for you is never about shortage, lack, or insufficiency or believing the lie that God only wants to give you so much. No, the cup He’s giving you overflows. A feast of abundance is set at the table, the wine He pours for you is brimming over your cup – representing rich blessings over you. He is the well and the supply that will never run out. Your cup will quite literally overflow because you are securely attached to the Father – like a root to a tree. In John 15 He says, “I am the vine and you are the branches apart from me you can do nothing.” Jeremiah 17:8 and Psalm 1:3 both promise that we will be like a tree planted by streams of water and we will always bear fruit in any season – even when a drought comes our leaves will not wither or fade. The promise in these scriptures is my cup will continuously be in excesses if I am deeply rooted and secured to the Father. The fruit will grow and overflow in our lives, and our lives will be hallmarked with peace and joy.
“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6
The final assurance in Psalm 23 comes highlighted and bursting with mercy, goodness and security. I need that promised mercy every single day! Praise the Lord His mercy on us never comes to an end.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness! – Lamentations 3:22-23
This very last line of Psalm 23 discusses our dwelling in security and safety at all times. The Psalmist boasts throughout this book that the Lord is our Fortress, our Shield, our Hiding Place, our Helper, our Rock, our Strong Tower, our Refuge, our Protector, our Anchor, our Firm Foundation, our Cornerstone. All names defining security and of shelter. Even though the storms of life will come, you can know (and trust) that God is always at work, that He is completely sovereign over your situation – He rules over whatever comes into your life and that these are the promises in scripture that we can cling to: we will dwell in security in the house of the Lord forever. We are one of His – chosen, adopted, family, heirs.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” – Psalm 91:1-16
In closing, I have to share the most beautiful and profound part of Psalm 23 to me: He basically asks us to do nothing. How counter-culture is that? I love it. God doesn’t say to get your ducks in a row before He rescues you. He doesn’t say to clean up before you sit at the table. He doesn’t tell you to mow the grass before you lay down in His green pasture. He actually never tells you to do anything – it’s all about Him and what He does for us. He knows that we weren’t created to manage all of this alone. He wants to take us on the most relaxing spa weekend to get away and not lift a finger. He’s going to take care of all the details, make all the reservations. He says in Luke that His yoke is easy and His burden is light – it is not burdensome or weary or stressful. It is full of peace and blessings and restorations and replenishment. He prepares it all for us and the Great Exchange occurs as he showers you with all you need (needs for your soul, heart and life) -- intimacy, with nourishment, with replenishment, with rest; and at that table, you trade in your mourning for joy, ashes for beauty, shame for honor (His honor) and failures trade in for never-ceasing love.
Look how much astounding goodness comes out of ONE six stanza Psalm:
Rescued – verse 1
Rest – verse 2
Retreat – verse 2
Repaired – verse 2
Restored – verse 3
Refreshed – verse 3
Rehabilitated – verse 3
Rewired – verse 3
Refuge – verse 4
Relief – verse 4
Replenished – verse 5
Reconnected – verse 5
Renewed – verse 5
Rebuilt – verse 5
Reworked – verse 5
Recreated – verse 5
Repurposed – verse 5
Redeemed – verse 5
Run-off – verse 5
Released – verse 6
Rejoicing – verse 6
Revival – verse 6
I hope you continue to wear and gift this Psalm 23 bracelet to yourself and to others as a sign of remembrance for what God has done, from where He rescued you from, for what He IS doing in you and the wonders He performs on your behalf!
May the hustle and bustle of this season rustle up in us a must-rest, need-to-stop, cling-to-our-permanent-identity-of-who-we-are-in-Christ moments and truly revel in the promises of Psalm 23 and just what is available to us at all times!!
Hope y’all have a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving next week,