PSALM 23 – # 06 – The CONCLUSION the Journey TEACHES
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever – Psalm 23:6.
In the CRISIS “the sheep of His pasture” is protected by the presence of the Chief Shepherd and by HIS “rod and staff”. These things bring great comfort to the sheep. NOW we have reached the CONCLUSION of the Journey, where once more the ruminant reflects over the past and, based on the COMMENCEMENT that the JOURNEY Makes, the COURSE that the JOURNEY Takes, the CRISIS that the Journey Produces, and the CLIMAX that the Journey Reaches, the sheep makes his CONCLUSION. It matters not if you view it, as we have, being, “A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A SHEEP” or the Journey of a Life-Time. The same principle applies and the same lessons are learned. The Journey is so comforting and rewarding that tomorrow will be as good as today, or eternity will result in the same destination – “I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
We need to recap, which is precisely what the human Sheep following the Chief Shepherd does:
- While THE COMMENCEMENT of the JOURNEY is NOT everything it will NOT proceed correctly unless it STARTS PROPERLY. It starts when we are adopted into the family of God, which may be, as in my case, early in life or in the case of others later in life – even towards the end, which is one of the reasons why this 23rd Psalm may be correctly viewed as a Psalm to live by and to die on;
- The COURSE that the Journey TAKES may not be the best or most comfortable at all times, but nonetheless, in the overall scheme of things, it is RIGHT and RIGHTEOUS – “He knows the way that I take: when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” – Job 23:10. So long as we are led by the Shepherd we have the confidence that His way is RIGHT – “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? – Genesis 18:25. “As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the LORD is tried: He is a buckler to all who trust in Him – 2nd Samuel 22:31 Palm 18:30. –“He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake – Psalm 23 2-3.
- The CRISIS that the Journey PRODUCES is painful but will come to an end. It does not necessarily reflect on either the COMMENCEMENT or the COURSE of the journey, though it may do so. We must not hold God responsible for our mistakes, failures or sins. However as the all sovereign Shepherd He is well able to bring good out of evil – “We know that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose – Romans 8:28.
- The CLIMAX that the Journey REACHES is elevated and invigorating. It comes after the CRISIS. This is why the Lord Shepherd paints a double picture of meditation where the ruminants lie down in “green pastures” (verse3) and before a “prepared table” (verse 5) to reflect on and meditate in the way that the Shepherd has led within the context of scripture verse 3 with verse 5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over – Psalm 23:5.
- So now we come to: The CONCLUSION that the Journey Teaches. In looking back we see all of the above in respect of the Way the Lord Shepherd has led us. It provides a light that shines back on the JOURNEY and forward to the WAY AHEAD – the eternal future:
This is one of the distinct and definite advantages in meditating in the Scriptures. I have found frequently that regular meditation stimulates the mind in respect of the Truth of God regarding the trials of the soul and body at a given point in time. Take for example my present Health Crisis during which I have been deeply musing on this Psalm 23 – A Day in the Life of a Sheep.
Last Thursday (Feb. 26, 2015) Kathleen and I had a meeting with my Radiologist on the recommendation of my Oncologist due to my prostate having become enlarged and my PSA having jumped from 24 to 43 since switching from chemotherapy to the new drug. The assessment was comforting in part and challenging in other ways. Our advice was not to put too much store on the rising PSA as this is known to happen when chemotherapy treatment is replaced with hormone drugs. The enlarged prostate will be attempted to be shrunk with directed radio beams for a six week treatment period of low dosage from this coming Wednesday – March 4, 2015.
Any CRISIS has spiritual and natural impact and so it has been in my case, which I do not propose to recount right now. Suffice it to luxuriate in the truth of that marvellous late 18th century hymn written by William Cowper (26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800):
|SOMETIMES A LIGHT SURPRISES – 1779.|
Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises with healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.
In holy contemplation we sweetly then pursue,
The theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.
It can bring with it nothing but He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing will clothe His people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens, no creature but is fed;
And He Who feeds the ravens will give His children bread.
Though vine nor fig tree neither their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the field should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice,
For while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.
This concludes Philip’s musings on PSALM 23.
All of Philip’s Blogs can be read at http:/philiplpowell.wordpress.com/
Please pass the word along.
Philip’s plan, as the Lord grants strength of body and mind is to do a series of DEVOTIONAL blogs on Psalm 22, The Psalm of the Cross; and on The Song of Songs and another of a DOCTRINAL NATURE on MIDRASH & MIDRASHIM viewed biblically and extra-biblically, which, in Philip’s view, borders on Gnosticism.
God bless you and may His Hand guide us continually.
Philip L. Powell – March 1, 2015.