From the Pastor’s Heart
Psalm 23 portrays a day in the life of one led by the Shepherd, and a picture of a believer’s life story.
These six short verses describe the journey of faith.
In the morning, awakened by the Shepherd’s call, the sheep set out to pasture. Reaching the first stage,
they’re given time to be refreshed by still waters. Energy is restored for the journey ahead. If we would
walk without fainting, we need resting times.
Sometimes the Shepherd makes the sheep lie down. Is that what weariness is for, or even illness? Have we
forgotten how to relax? God compels us to lie down in green pastures. Green is the most restful of all colors.
It is also the most hopeful, implying showers and sunshine
A good host provides still waters for a midday break. We need peace and quiet in a noise-rocked world,
but rest is not an end in itself—rest is a means to an end. Catching our breath energizes us for steep hills ahead.
The restored soul is expected to continue the pilgrimage.
Refreshing comes before the severest part of the journey. Reserves of energy are secured before we enter the
last phase of life. Heaviest tests come in the afternoon.
Life is to be a movement, not stagnation. Life is a walk. Walking is the universal law of human life (Psalm 138:7).
Yesterday’s circumstances are gone forever. Today’s circumstances will be in the past tomorrow. Life’s walk is constant—
the wheels of life never pause. Life’s walk is rapid—a morning mist evaporating in blazing sun. Life’s walk is irretraceable—
we cannot live one day again. Each step we take brings us one step nearer our final destination.
The Good Shepherd continues to lead us on righteous paths. The journey of faith is not haphazard. The paths lead
somewhere—the believer’s life is purpose-driven.
The deep valley is not short—it stretches on in the evening of life. Neither is it easy—physical weakness, pain, sickness,
and loneliness are typical experiences toward the end.
Enemies are all around, but the sheep are safe in the Lord’s care. The shepherd’s goodness and mercy are a rear guard when foes attack.
He prepares a table for his own in the presence of their enemies. This was a favorite text in London at Communion services during WWII,
when bombing was at its peak. Once when part of a church was hit, the service continued.
The valley of the shadow of death must be traveled. “There is no discharge in that war.” “Opinions come and go; laughter and madness
have times of riot & triumph; attention is arrested by politics, business, war, and pleasure; but there is the black, silent, gloomy valley,
waiting for us all!” (Joseph Parker, Congregational pastor in London, died 1902)
Growing older, approaching death, it hits us that we too, must die. If our last thought is You are with me, the king of terrors will not
be so fearful. We will not have to cross Jordan alone—the Shepherd will be with us.
At the journey’s end, we will be home with the King of Love, our Shepherd. The Shepherd is a guide who leads wisely and well.
So we can have confidence for the future, looking forward to his promises coming true, staking our life and eternity on his goodness and mercy.