Psalms 22 – 24 present a trinity of experiences. We often focus on Psalm 23, but it falls between two important occurrences.
Psalm 22 gives us the experience of Mount Calvary. Here we read Jesus’ cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In verses 14 – 15 we find a description of the physical agony that He endured, and toward the end of the psalm we see the promise, reiterated in Philippians 2, that the “ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord”.
Psalm 24 speaks to when Christ will be fully recognized as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, so I liken it to the Mount of Olives of the second coming of Christ. Repeatedly, the psalmist tells us to “lift up our heads” as we look toward this glorious time.
Sandwiched in between these two mountains is Psalm 23. Psalm 23 is often used to provide comfort at the time of death, but it is really a description of the valley of life, which occurs between the two mountains. In this valley is our work, our family, our daily provision, and our walk with God.
This is the place of the abundant life promised by the Good Shepherd in John 10:10.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
The life described in Psalm 23 is also the place of trouble that Jesus warned us of in John 16:33.
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
An overriding truth shines out from the verses in this psalm – GOD IS ENOUGH!
- He is relationship. verse 1
- He is provision. verse 1
- He is rest. verse 2
- He is direction. verse 2
- He is restoration. verse 3
- He is purpose. verse 3
- He is peace. verse 4
- He is strength. verse 4
- He is correction. verse 4
- He is comfort. verse 5
- He is hope and abundance. verse 6
Psalm 23 is the psalm of life – the life of the sheep cared for by the Good Shepherd.
Years ago, Charles Allen wrote a book called God’s Psychiatry. In it he advocated the wisdom of daily reading Psalm 23 to heal our outlook on life. This was not making light of serious mental health issues, but it was saying that God’s word is powerful to restore, to redirect, and to give hope and purpose.
I am not sure what you are facing today, but a few moments in the valley of life with the Good Shepherd might provide some hope and clarity. What do you think?
An excerpt from the book, God’s Psychiatry