Psalm 23- You Are With Me
March 31, 2020
When I first realized that this season would be what it now is, I immediately recognized that I had not been here before. I have not pastored a church through a season of intense anxiety, fear, change and loss. This … is new territory.
I knew what I needed to do.
I picked up my phone and I called a few close friends.
These friends are pastors who had led congregations through the last season we as an extended community were here: The days and weeks after the attacks of 9/11. My friends offered me such wise advice. But, there was one piece of advice that I feel compelled to pass along to you. It came from a retired pastor who had demonstrated a lifetime of faithful service.
“Make sure you do not miss what it is God is teaching you in this season.”
Yesterday we prayed through the first few verses of Psalm 23.
Psalm 23 is a desert song.
The desert is the place where people learn to trust God.
In the desert, God leads.
This is how Psalm 23 begins.
And then, at verse 4, there is a shift.
See if you catch it .. .
Psalm 23V4-5 (King James Version)
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Did you catch it?
In verse 4, David (it’s author) finds himself in what he describes as “The darkest valley.”
Life has moved from merely inconvenient to downright terrifying.
Two shifts happen when David moves into this “darkest valley.”
Shift #1: Where God is located shifts.
In verses 1-3, God is out ahead. God is leading. Shepherds lead, and sheep follow … until things get dangerous. When things get dark and the sheep cannot see him, a shepherd will move into the center of the flock and begin talking to the sheep. They will listen to his voice and know that the shepherd is near.
Shift #2:The language shifts.
In verses 1-3 the David talks about God and the word he uses is “he.” But, beginning in verse 4 the language shifts to “you.” The language becomes personal.
I know that right now, for many of us, it is difficult to see God.
Maybe … maybe … maybe that’s because God, in the darkness, has moved from the front to the very center.
Maybe instead of just looking with our eyes, the invitation is to listen.
And maybe, right now, God wants to move our faith from the impersonal (“He leads us”) to the personal (“You are with me”).
Pray today that God would teach you how to listen.
Pray today that God would help you hear his gentle whisper.
Pray today that God would help your faith become (even more) personal.
Pray today that you would not miss what it is God is teaching you in this season.
And, at some point in the day, I suggest you take 10 minutes of silence to just listen.
I promise you, he is speaking.
pastor tim wilson