“I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11).
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1).
I lack nothing – God has given us a full salvation. It’s a salvation that covers our past, our present and our future.
We begin by emphasizing that God’s salvation covers our past.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul” (Psalm 23:2-3).
The beautiful picture of “green pastures” and “quiet waters” grabs our attention. For David, was it always “green pastures” and “quiet waters”? No! It wasn’t. In Psalm 40:1-3, David tells us that the Lord “lifted him out of the slimy pit out of the mud and mire.” He tells us that the Lord “set his feet on a rock and gave him a firm place to stand.”
Following his words about “green pastures” and “quiet waters”, David says this, “he refreshes my soul”? What does this say to us?
On the day of Pentecost, three thousand people were brought to Christ. They received the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). The forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit – this is where the “green pastures” and “quiet waters” come from.
God’s salvation covers our past.
Our sins have been forgiven. “Justified by faith we have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). “Quiet waters” – our sins have been forgiven.
The Holy Spirit has been given to us. We have received new life. We have moved from our old into a new life – “a new creation in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:17). New life – God has brought us to “green pastures.”
Now, we emphasize that God’s salvation covers our present.
“He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).
Our sins have been forgiven. We have received new life in the Spirit. Now, we must live as new men and women, men and women of faith, men and women whose lives are being shaped by the grace of God, men and women who are learning to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16).
How are we to live this new life? Are we to live this life in our own strength? No! We are empowered by the Lord – and we are guided by the Lord: “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).
How does the Lord guide us along the right paths?
“You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:5-6).
Here, there is something more – more than guiding us along the right paths. Here, there is love. The Lord loves us. Throughout our life’s journey, the Lord shows us how much he loves us. This is the way in which he guides us in the right paths. As we travel through life with him we’re learning how much he loves us – and we’re learning to love him.
God’s salvation covers our past and present. It, also, covers our future.
The phrase, “all the days of my life”, turns our attention to the future. It prepares us for thinking about death and eternal life.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley – the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me … I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (Psalm 23:4,6).
We face the future with both realism and hope. We face death with realism – but we, also, face it with the faith, which says, “Where, O death, is your victory? … Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55,57).