Summary: Let Go and Let God is sage advice for any Christian. Our strength comes not from controlling God, but from allowing God to be who God is, powerful, wise, loving, and forgiving.
Psalm 23 “Let God Be God”
Role playing—the art of acting out a different player in life than ourselves—has been used for years to enable people to see life from a different perspective. In Psalm 23 the writer takes on a very different perspective. He views the world and his relationship with God from the viewpoint of a sheep.
Tradition believes that King David wrote this psalm. He certainly doesn’t view the world as a king in the psalm. We know that David was also a shepherd, when he was young, but he doesn’t write from the perspective of a shepherd. Instead he writes, “The Lord is my shepherd...he leads me. David envisions himself as a sheep.
As we think about the idea of allowing God to be God in our lives, it may be helpful for us to enter into this psalm and join in its perspective of the world from the eyes of a sheep.
PASTURE AND WATER
Sheep are very different from the perception that you and I have about ourselves. Sheep are not very strong, they are not particularly smart, and they are not highly motivated. But sheep is an allegory that God uses for God’s people over and over again.
Sheep are not necessarily career orientated. The focus of sheep is to eat. The main role of the shepherd that is confirmed by this psalm is to provide the sheep with good pasture and water.
The psalm affirms that God provides his flock with green pastures—none of that dry, bare stuff. God also provides cool, still water for God’s flock. God’s role in our lives and in the life of the Church is one of provision.
Sheep do not have a high worry quotient. They probably are not smart enough for that—or perhaps they are too smart. They have a simple, instinctive trust that the shepherd has their best interest at heart and that the shepherd will provide for them.
The people of God allow God to be God when they trust that God is their provider, that God has their best interest at heart, and that God will not forsake them.
THE DARK VALLEY
There are times, when moving from pasture to pasture, that the sheep must pass through dangerous territory. The psalmist calls these places the valley of the shadow of death.
Sheep can sense danger, but they can’t do much about it. They are not very adept animals at protecting themselves. About all that they can do is to keep from wandering and stick together. Otherwise, they must depend completely upon the shepherd for their protection.
The shepherd keeps the wild animals away from his flock. Nothing gets by his lookout. Though the sheep are helpless, the shepherd is well equipped to deal with any threat.
The presence of the shepherd does not take away the necessity of occasionally passing through dangerous areas. But the sheep know that the shepherd will protect them.
THE TABLE AND CUP
The perspective of the psalm now changes. The psalmist stops being a sheep. He is now a king.
The Lord prepares a table for him in the presence of his enemies. This is the table of celebration and election. The Lord, by God’s actions, is proclaiming his favor upon David. David is enjoying a feast while all of his enemies can only stand around, look and wish that they could join in.
God declares the king his chosen one by anointing David’s head with oil. David’s enemies are not anointed and they can only look from a distance at how God blesses David.
The king’s cup overflows. There is no scarcity. God gives abundantly. There is an extravagance—almost a wastefulness—in God’s provision. God cares for God’s people and their enemies shall not be victorious over them.
God does not guarantee that our lives will be charmed, easy, and without trials and tribulations. But God has promised to be our God through all of life. God has promised to provide and protect us and enable us to celebrate God’s rich blessings in our lives.