The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through 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.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my 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. (NIV)
Let us let this be our Psalm for this new year. Let this be our guide and our goal. It describes who we go with and how He and I relate to one another. He’s the shepherd, care-giver, leader and guide. He provides for my needs and He comforts me. I’m the sheep, the follower, the scared and needy one.
It describes our starting point: fear and shadows. And it describes our goal and our ending point: green pastures, quiet waters, restoration. He describes the conditions in which we shall find ourselves at the end of this journey through the valley of grief: surrounded by abundant love in a banquet party just for us. He is Good. He has prepared for each of us to arrive. Even if we have enemies along the way, they can’t spoil the banquet when we are in the house of the Lord.
What enemies might we have? Your enemies are not soldiers, but you do face enemies during the journey through the grief valley. How about those who say unkind or ignorant things? They may not have information about normal grief. They may have unrealistic expectations. For example someone might have said to you: “aren’t you over that yet?” How about the little voice that keeps accusing you of wrong doing in the course of your child’s life? Guilt. Well, the enemy of our soul is the source of those accusations! How about the enemy called time? It takes longer than anyone who hasn’t done the journey imagines, to put life back together after the death of your child. How do you order your life without the one who died? There was so much he was the center of and so much he helped with. It all has changed!
This psalm is filled with promises but there is only one condition we have to meet. Just one, though you see it in 2 ways. We must follow the shepherd. We must dwell in the house of the Lord. This is the same thing in two different contexts. One is expressed in a process and the other is tied to a place. We are traveling in the first paragraph, so being with the Lord means following His leading. We have arrived at the banquet hall in the second paragraph, and being with Him means being at Home. All we have to do is choose to be with Him, wherever we are in the journey. Then He will lead, provide, protect and comfort. Then He will hold a banquet when we have arrived. That’s the goal – to arrive at the party He has planned for us!