Psalms spiritual

David Still Sings

12:19 PMHeather

The daily grind. Every day the same as the last. Awakened, long before he was ready or willing. To tackle the same mundane tasks. Lonely tasks. Smelly and hard and so far from the prestigious work he wished he had been granted. But as the youngest -- small and disregarded -- this work became his lot. 

And so, he arose from his bed, grabbing his cloaks to enter the crisp air and go about his tasks. Herding the sheep. Sheep, by the way, are not known for their intellect. They are smelly and loud and dumb. Day after day, he led the flocks out into the hillsides, under the bright blue skies that stretched out overhead, feeling the wind brush across his face. For hours a day, it was just him and the flocks of his family.


To pass the time, he sang. Sheep make poor company, and so he talked to his God. He made up songs and sang them for his captive audience of woolly animals and the God of his forefathers. Others might have thought him crazy. But to him, it had become the norm. And through his songs and talking and praying and hours of reflecting, he found a sacred place. A place of connection. A lowly shepherd boy. Somehow connecting with the Almighty Yahweh. It was remarkable, really. 

He sang his songs and felt the embrace of Heaven.

Although thousands of years ago, David still sings. Words that are as relevant to us today as they were to a shepherd boy who lived long ago. A boy who lived for quite a while in quiet anonymity, wondering if there would ever be more for him in life. Yet determined to seek God even if this was his lot for all of his days.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
The world never satisfies. It taunts us with wants and longings and the elusive pursuit of something better. 

God offers satisfaction. He quenches all longing, when we set our hearts to purse him before all else.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.
The world tells us to be autonomous, to be our own captain. To run and go and do and hustle and stay busy. That we might find greener pastures.

The Lord offers to be our shepherd. To lead and guide and direct and protect and care for us. He invites us to find rest, not just for our bodies. But for our souls. He encourages us to lie down and sleep in peace because he cares for us (Psalm 4:8). And he offers us not greener pastures, but he beckons us to enjoy the green pastures right in front of us.

He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
 The world laughs at the idea of being led. Be the leader of your own destiny. Forge your own way. Full speed ahead, churning up wake in your frenzied pursuits. Always willing to tear down what's not working and just move on to something new.

 Our Father says follow. Let him pave the way and trust his leadership. Pause beside quiet waters. Forget the frenzy. Stop. And sit. And make time to quiet the world and the busy for the sake of Sabbath. Intentionally set a rhythm to tune out the noise and to listen. Hear his songs of restoration. When things come to ruin, don't fear or be discouraged. Because the Redeemer is in the business of rebuilding. He specializes in using the broken to create the masterpieces. To make beauty from ashes. To use the hard and torn and falling apart to make something far more glorious that will never end.

He guides me in paths of righteousness, for his name's sake.
 The world says there are many paths. Many ways to go, many directions to choose. Don't hesitate or slow down for anyone. Make your own way. Do what makes you happy. Don't be forced to follow. Make a name for yourself. Seek applause and notice and attention, to enjoy fame and glory and accolades.

The Holy One of Israel says that there is one path to him and his name is Jesus. He left the glorious Throne Room of a perfect heaven to come as a helpless baby. To feel life as we feel it. And to buy us back from the clutches of sin and legalism and rules and ritual. Grace made the way. Grace is the one path. And God calls to us to let him lead us. All for his name's sake. All to point to him and to magnify his fame and glory throughout the world. Because when the glory of the Lord shines around us, we are sorely afraid. We are in awe and we grasp at last the splendor that far exceeds any temporary fame we dare to steal from him.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
 The cynical world is tripped up constantly by the trials and suffering and diseases and disasters. By death and sickness that fuel anxiety and fear. We are blindsided constantly, feeling alone in the hopelessness of the dark shadows around every bend. Cancer. ISIS. Terrorism. Violence. Racism. Bullying. And the list goes on and on -- of all the dark shadows that ignite despair and a desperate, frenzied worry. 

God says I have a remedy. He assures us, over and over and over again, throughout the whole of Scripture, that he has a plan. That he makes a way. That he is the light of the world. That he is the Deliverer and the Rescuer. That he is the Refuge and Rock and Shield and Sustainer. That he breathes hope into our hopelessness. That he has a purpose and a plan, to use all the hard-- to use all the bad -- to buy back all the brokenness -- to transform the awful into the awesome. It is an eternal plan. Its majesty is everlasting and sometimes hard to see from our earthly vantage point. But he promises nothing is wasted. He is Salvation. He is Light. He is Life. He promises that he does not give a spirit of fear, for that is a tool of the enemy. He walks through every last lonely and gut wrenching place we walk through,  holding our hand. Carrying us. Redeeming it all for eternal good. He has the last word. Evil dies. The grave is not the end. He is the Victor.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
 The world despises the rod of authority. It morphs the idea of submission into a twisted, threatening abuse of power. Corrupt and cruel leaders mean that all leaders or authority are suspect. So, buck authority. Lead out. Don't follow. Refuse to yield. To others. To authority. To anyone. Look out for number one. Be your own boss.

Our Father says that like a tender shepherd, he uses a rod  and a staff to bring comfort and direction and protection from dangerous paths. He does not abuse or exploit his authority. He loves us with a sacrificial, never ending loving kindness. He is a gentle Father, who is all for us. He does not lord his power over us, but he ultimately chose to use it to buy us back from our own wretched state. When we can believe the truest things about him as our good, good Father, then we know that he is worthy of all trust and surrender and submission. Because he is not a cruel dictator. No, he longs to make us sons and daughters and to free us from all that binds us.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
The world perpetuates a fear and a wariness of all enemies, perceived or real. Watch your backs. Strike first, before they strike you. It's all up to you. It's a dog-eat-dog world. Intimidated by all potential threats, we are fed half-truths and absolute deceits and twisted versions of truth that belittle us, as the enemy brandishes his favorite weapon of fear to strike us down. Feelings of defeat run rampart as we scroll through social media, listen to commercials, watch television and read magazines. Filtered versions of reality tell us that we are not enough. Like bullies that use their foot to hold us down to the ground. We flail about, beaten down.

The Creator of the Universe says that he's got this. He is Sovereign. He is Omnipotent. The grave couldn't hold his Son and death will be defeated. The stories in the gospels tell us that demons bowed at the name and presence of Jesus, pleading and begging for mercy because defeat is ultimately their lot to claim -- not ours. For every battle we face, God says he will handle it. He promises that he will dry up oceans to give us a way. He will conquer giants. He will shut the mouths of lions and the taunting of the enemy. He will conquer a city of foes with the shouts of the faithful, and walls will crumble to dust. He will deal with every adversary and he will gather his children to his side, forever and ever and ever. He calls our names when we feel empty and cower under tables. He says dinner is ready. Come and eat and be filled and satisfied at my banquet table. I will fill you in the presence of your enemies. They will see my provision and my faithfulness because I set a place for you.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
The world says we are never enough. Our houses aren't big enough or pretty enough or magazine ready. Our lives aren't fun enough or inspiring enough. Our marriages aren't satisfying enough. Our bank account isn't big enough. Our jobs aren't good enough and glamorous enough. Our children aren't succeeding enough. Our bodies aren't thin enough and our wardrobes aren't trendy enough. Our name isn't famous enough. Our followers don't amount to enough, and our "likes" and "favorites" aren't numerous enough. It's just never enough. 

God says our cup overflows. Even as the youngest, nearly forgotten son, left to handle the tedious job of caring for the sheep, our cup overflows. Even alone on hillsides with nothing but smelly animals for company, our cup overflows. Because when we turn our eyes to the heavens and grasp that the One who made it all dares to commune with us, we are awed. When we realize that the One whose very word spoke the world into existence actually knows our name, we are humbled. When we consider that the One who placed each star in the sky actually knows the number of hairs on our heads, we are baffled. When we pause long enough to meditate on the fact that we have been covered by grace and made children of God, we know. We know in the deepest parts of our souls that we are so unworthy. To have been bought back. Forgiven. Loved. Shown mercy. And our cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The world calls us to purse fame and fortune, prestige and autonomy. Leisure and pleasure and fun and good times. Life is short so grab the gusto and enjoy the ride. Then, it's just over.

Our Heavenly Father says I offer goodness. And love. And mercy. In me, you will find the fulfillment of every longing in our life. I set eternity in your hearts. A God sized hole. And only I can fill it. Only I can satisfy it. And I will. With my goodness beyond measure. My love and my mercy and my kindness and every aspect of my character will be poured into you as you seek to know me. God says that even death, even what feels like the end or the worst possible thing, is not the end at all. But when we choose him -- when we say, I do believe and I'm going to follow you-- then we will live with him forever. Then, even when we ultimately close our eyes in this world, we open them in heaven. We see our Savior face-to-face and we dwell in his glorious presence forever.  He says that all our earthly days offer goodness in Him. Because He is good. And then, for all of eternity... we rest in the arms of One who created us in his very image.

Oh, yes. David sings. He sang this song thousands of years ago, and he still sings. 

May we sit and listen. Pause and ponder it all. May we strain our ears to hear the tune. And let the melody and the lyrics soak in to the very depths of our being. Because this Psalm offers us some of the truest things about God. 

And the truth will set us free.     

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