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The Psalm of peace and assurance is memorized and repeated often by many denominations.  This 23rd Psalm is widely recognized for the confidence condensed into these few short lines.  God is good and we are reminded by such a quiet assurance.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.  Psalm 23:1-6

The Lord is my shepherd; He who created the universe is directing my steps to places where I can only prosper.  That is a comforting conceit unless backed by a real personal relationship.  David knows his shepherd.

He leads me beside still waters; no rapids or flash floods here.  The lakes of northern Michigan and here in Wyoming can be quiet restful scenes like these.  The grass is green and life is well fed and peaceful.  Enjoy!

If I walk in the shadow of death you are with me; David talks to his God in the first person even during the storms of life.  David has faced weather, wild animals, and violent men, and has never been left unprotected.

You prepare a table for me in the same room as my enemies; God placed David in the court of a mad king and allowed him to eat in the confidence of his safety.  You anoint my head with oil; as performed by the prophet Samuel.  David was prepared by God to take over the position of the king who threatened his life by the God who gave him his life.

Goodness and mercy shall follow me…as long as you are my Lord.  I will dwell in your house forever; eternal life in the house of God is David’s normal expectation.  David has pointed us to his hope, and he talks to his God even as we are listening to his conversational worship and praise of God.  David is aware of the real presence of God and of his audience then and now.   God is just as real to him as we are, and so is his expectation of life far beyond the veil of death.


The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.  For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.  Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?  He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.  He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Psalm 24:1-5

God owns us…and the ground we stand on.  He created high ground above the seas and floods and a higher place for his throne.  What mortal flesh could reach the heights of God’s righteousness?  The man who has no sin shall receive the blessing of the Lord.  But if all have sinned and come short of God’s glory, who can receive that blessing?  There is one who has the blessing, and gives it back to us as his sacrifice.  He is the Word of God, being with God and being God, and being God with us, Emanuel.


This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.  Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.  Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.  Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah. Psalm 24:6-10

This generation is seeking God, and seeking Jacob, Israel.  Jew and Gentile are seeking the God of Israel now.  Let the gates of Jerusalem look up with joy as the King of Glory enters the city.  Who is this King of glory?  Handel’s opera “Messiah” puts this question back to music as the Psalms once were.  I sense his excitement with biblical prophecy when I hear his music so dominated by scriptures like this.

Remember Psalm 20 describing another king?

Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.  Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.  They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.  Save, LORD: let the king hear us when we call.  Psalm 20: 6-9

The king is not David, but he is the Lord of Hosts in Psalm 24:6-10.


Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.  O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.  Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.  Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.  Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day Psalm 25:1-5

I have heard these words put to hymns too.  These are the expression of hope that we need to have ingrained in our mind at all times.  Let this kind of song rally our defense against the negative thoughts that would pound our minds like artillery from hell.  These words are the bread of life; the living word.

Hymns inspire worship; they inflame the passion of relationship with God.  David lifts up his soul in song, and declares his trust.  God don’t let me be ashamed so my enemies can gloat over me.  Turn me in a righteous direction before I become their property.  David prays for all that believe as well as for himself.  Let the enemies of the righteous be the ones to be shamed.  Let God be our guide and teacher as we stand on this rock of our salvation.  We can wait in peace when we are led to these still waters.


Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.  Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD.  Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.  The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.  All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:6-10

As David is asking God to remember he is reinforcing his own recollection of God’s mercy.  God already knows how faithful he is without this reminder.  He could remember David’s failures, but with his repentance they are forgotten.  David trusts God to teach him the right way, he acknowledges the merciful correction of a loving God.  Anyone who will be quiet and listen will hear the instruction of God.  We find a safe highway when we obey the road signs.  God already knows the rules of the road as he is their author.

Long before I was a Christian I could feel the peace in these verses.  How could words ease my mind and allow me to sleep without being drunk?  Where is the scientific evidence that this brings peace?  Perhaps God himself is speaking to the reader, even as he did to the writer.  The bible is called the “living word” as it has different answers for different readers.  In the gospel of John the bible is given another significance.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

The bible is Yeshua; his life, his wisdom, and his earthly presence.  He lives in these words which come to life within us.


For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.  What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.  His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.  The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.  Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. Psalm 25:11-15

God cares about his name because he cares to draw us to safety.  His name is his honor to us.  As this writer hears God, he also fears God; this is the key.  He recognizes that he is a man of flesh; full of evil imagination and a few misdeeds.  God will give good choices to one who will listen.  God doesn’t seek good people, he seeks willing people; willing, not willful.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.  Matthew 16:25

The secret of the Lord is with them.  God chose to be a secret, not validated by science or measured by engineering forces.  His creation on the other hand is beyond measure.  Would it be reasonable to give eternal life and divine power to men who could calculate a shortcut to heaven?  If you know that you need mercy, God knows you will give it to others.  He discerns hearts and minds before he extends the invitation to grace.

Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.  The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.  Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.  Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.  O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.  Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.  Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. Psalm 25:16-22

If David is writing this, he is destined to be both a king and a prophet.  He will not be a priest because he has violence and sin in his life.  But he is a man after God’s heart

But God removed him (Saul) from the kingship and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘David son of Jesse is a man after my own heart, for he will do everything I want him to.’  Acts 13:22

Let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in you.  I wait for you.  Beside the still waters it is easy to wait on the Lord.  He brought us to such a place where we could be surrounded by the peaceful calm as we wait for powerful help.  As Israel waited by the Red Sea, the Egyptian army drew near but God was already there.  David asks God to redeem Israel, not just himself.  A heart of mercy is given to benefit others first.



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David has envisioned a king greater than himself.  He has been in relationship with God enough to become aware of another personality of God; who we know as Messiah now.  David continues to grow closer to God and to understanding the destiny of man.  One thousand years later the Romans will identify the true king of Israel:

And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.  Matthew 27:37

For David this is a time when he is close to God and he is receiving a look at the great plan.  By now David may have had some bad days, and our God can relate to his hours of stress.  The Lord gives David words that this new king will echo in another millennium.

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?  O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.  Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.  They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.  Psalm 22:1-5

God the father will always hear the cry of David, as he will also hear the seed of David cry out in his hour of trials.  Here we see the words of Yeshua Meschia as he takes a stand against the forces of darkness.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?  Matthew 27:46

David has had dark days and he knows what it is like to be rejected by men.  But he also knows what it is like to have God on his side, closer than a brother.  He knows that the enemy will see him lifted by God even while they believe that God will fail him.

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.  All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,  He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.  But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.  I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. Psalm 22:6-10

This new king will be familiar with the words of David and with the many other prophesies that he will fulfill.  The scriptures are his life, and he is the word of God in the flesh.  He came as an emissary of God to live the human experience and share the rejection that David knew here.  He is God with us, Emanuel.  He will live to hear the same rejection that David experienced.

He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.  He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.  Matthew 27: 42-43

David had reached the bottom of his strength, and could not see the evidence of hope.  Like Job he knew that God had allowed him to fall into a low place.

Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.  Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.  They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.  I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.  My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. Psalm 22:11-15

But is this David, or is he purely speaking the prophetic vision of the experience of Messiah yet to come?

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.  I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.  They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.  But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.  Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Psalm 22:16-20

David did not have his hands and feet pierced, and who would dare steal the clothing of a king?  No, David is walking in a vision of events far into the future from his own life.  What kind of a coincidence could move David to pen such images so long before that reality would manifest?  Another Prophet also spoke of one who would be pierced.

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.  Zecariah 12: 10

And as David spoke, the garments of this king would be divided among his enemies by lottery.  The crucifixion and plunder of this man became a living vision to David in this Psalm.

They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.  And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.  Matthew 27: 34-35

The event is like reality to David, in part from David’s actual experience, and in part from the ongoing vision.

Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.  I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.  Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.  For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.  My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. Psalm 22: 21-25

David will declare the Lord’s name to his brethren.  We know a name of Messiah now, Yeshua, Jesus, Emanuel.  We know him as the one name that brings salvation to man.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.  Acts 4:12

This new king does not look down on the sick or the sinful, but hears and delivers.  David has become aware of the hope of our salvation, and he offers a sacrifice of praise to him.

The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.  All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.  For the kingdom is the LORD’s: and he is the governor among the nations.  All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.  A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.  They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this. Psalm 22: 26-31

The meek will seek and praise this Lord, and their heart will have eternal life.  People of many nations will come to a kingdom that is his.  Yeshua came and told us of the Kingdom of God, and we are the seed of his faith who declare his righteousness.

It is wonderful to witness a man of God bringing a revelation of good news.  But perhaps it is more amazing to see that David is a normal man, a man of some passion.  We know that he had the usual weaknesses because he indulged a few in his time.  If David can be a vessel for God’s prophetic messages, perhaps we should consider listening a little more closely to God.  Is it worth our time to invest a little in repentance and prayer?  Can we sacrifice a little of this life to see a little more of the next?  If a few loaves and fishes are available, we may get to witness sharing the bread of life with hundreds or thousands more than we imagined possible.  Another king will multiply what little we have to offer.