Peace in the Mess of Life

The twenty-third psalm is often read at funerals to give hope and comfort for mourners. However, the psalm has a powerful message for life. It is a message that will center you on God’s care. The psalm looks at life from God’s perspective.  Here are the first two verses:

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.

These words are from David. If you think about his life it was not one of idyllic peace that these words describe. David’s life was filled with the ugliness of sin, both his own and the sins of others. David was constantly surrounded by betrayal, bitterness, violence, the fallout from sexual sin, sadness, political treachery, and the sorrow of seeing his children suffer horrific consequences.  Even when he was in the green meadows, he had to be constantly on alert for the lion, the bear, and the wolf. Wow, this is not exactly what comes to mind when we read these beautiful words.

Maybe David was just trying to escape the mess of his life by thinking of such a peaceful scene. Maybe, but I don’t think so. This psalm is about the faithful care of God for you and me! David knew that no matter how out of control life seems, God always has us in his pasture. He is in control. David’s vision was not limited to the mess around him. He knew that God was his Shepherd. This changes everything!

David knew what it meant to be a shepherd. He would give his life to care for his sheep. With David at watch, the sheep were safe and secure even if a bear or lion would threaten them. So, it was an easy transition for David to take comfort that the great Lord of Heaven and Earth was his shepherd. He knew that he was safe and secure because he was under the loving care of God. He knew that he had everything he needed. If the Lord was his shepherd, he lacked nothing. He knew nothing could stop him from honoring his God.

If your life is centered on bringing honor and praise to God, you always have everything you need to do just that. So, like David, you can know that you are in the meadows of God’s world. He was at peace because the streams of God’s Spirit flowing through his word nourish him. He knows that God was being the faithful shepherd to him, no matter how much turmoil surrounded him. Frustration comes when you and I attempt to be our own shepherds or when we entrust someone other than Christ with that responsibility. David’s spirit was at peace in the urgency and turmoil of his life because he knew the joy of resting in the meadows of God’s good grace.

Rest well. The Lord is your Shepherd—you have all that you need.

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