Summary: A relevant 5 week series looking at Psalm 23.
Facing The Future
August 12, 2012
Today we are going to conclude our series on Psalm 23. As I’ve thought about this Psalm, I really think the last 2 verses are the hardest to accept. Think about the world we live in, the pain and the suffering and consider what David tells us ~
God prepares a table for us, even in the midst of our enemies
Our cup overflows
Goodness, mercy and loving kindness will follow me
I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.
Those are some pretty lofty promises and hopes God places before us. In my cynical way of looking at things, my first assumption is that this is only for the really, really good people in life. These are for the those Christian saints who have life figured out — with no pain and suffering.
Then I started to think about the people I know, people I would consider for sainthood. I thought about some of you. As I thought about each person, I realized they all have suffered, they’ve all endured hardship and tragedy. They’ve lost children or grandchildren to death. They’ve suffered physically or emotionally. So, my first premise, which I knew was flawed before I even started, was all wrong.
So, what does David mean when he tells us, Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
As we look at the world around us, we read about the shootings at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin; movie theater shootings in Colorado; bombings in the middle east; senseless crimes, droughts, floods, sickness and more, and we collectively question “where is God? Where is God when we’re hurting? How does any of this make sense?”
Maybe this is why so many watch the Olympics and other programs, they’re great escapes from our troubles and we get to see someone overcome a difficult life; or just simply succeed, and it gives us a glimmer of hope.
We all worry. We worry and wonder about money – for today and for retirement. What about my health . . . will I live a long healthy life? Will I die too soon? Will I suffer, will my family suffer? Will I get that new job? Will I find real love?
If you’re younger - you worry about school, sports, grades, boys, girls, friends, looks, parents, acceptance, the future, as well as money. It’s all there as well . . .
Will I . . . Can I . . . Should I . . . If only I . . .
We ask, more often than not, because we’re consumed by fear of what the future may bring. So, David concluded this Psalm with the statement ~
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.
According to David, there is no fear of the future. There is no anxiety – no worry about tomorrow. Even thought David always seemed to be running and afraid for his life; even thought he seemed to cry out pretty regularly to God, he still seemed to have this unwavering trust and faith that God would always be there for him. He’s confident and filled with hope. Do you have that confidence and trust?
Let’s take a look at what he’s getting at here ~
What’s going to follow us? Goodness and mercy or loving kindness. The image I get is this ~ God is the Good Shepherd. He leads us. Just like any good shepherd, God is our leader, He will lead us to the right places, even if we don’t agree or like the journey. Our job is to follow, to be obedient to God’s call.
Following are God’s sheep dogs named “Goodness” and “Mercy.” They will be nipping at us – in a good way – from behind, barking out words of encouragement. They’ll be making sure we stay on the right path, so that we can get to the right destination. Because we know how easy it is to get off the right path — which seems difficult — in order to get on the wrong path — which seems easier.
They’re like God’s angels, watching over us, helping us move in the direction God wants. Remember, these dogs are not out to scare or hurt us. They’re there to protect us, sometimes from ourselves, one another and the predators which are out there. God sends them because of one reason . . . He loves us!!
In Romans 2:4, Paul wrote these words . . . Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, NOT KNOWING THAT THE GOODNESS OF GOD LEADS YOU TO REPENTANCE? (NKJV)