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Living in the Twenty-Third Psalm

Living in the Twenty-Third Psalm

Faith is often expressed by the casual manner in which people act. The expression of their faith has an everyday feel about it. An old preacher once said, “If your stuff is thin, you will have to holler loud to make it thick.” A lot of hollering goes on because people’s faith is weak.

In the story of Elijah and the four hundred prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, after the prophets had wailed all morning for Baal to respond, Elijah told them,

Holler a little louder! Maybe he is meditating, or has gone on a journey, or possibly he is asleep. Holler a little louder! — 1 Kings 18:27, paraphrase

So, no hollering for us.

Casualness shows the confidence of our interaction with the rule of God from the heavens here and now. Casual confidence is what we see in passages such as Psalm

23. We need to take passages like this and meditate on them as something for our real life.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Stop there for a moment and think: You are going to go through this whole day without wanting. Obviously today is going to be different, isn’t it? But after all, that is what it says. And we have other passages from the New Testament:

My God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:19

Is that real, or shall we just make another song out of those pretty words? “My God will fully satisfy all my needs.” So now you have that in your head, but what is in your heart and in your life? Concentrate on that question for yourselves as Christians. I want you to have confidence in the constant interaction that says, “Because of my experience, because it is reality,

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil.

Today you are not going to fear any evil. This is going to be another new day. “I fear no evil, for You are with me.” Don’t you suppose that that is something we would know, something we would know because of the presence of God actually making a difference in our lives as we trust Him?

Your rod and your staff — they comfort me.

Rods and staffs, that sounds like experience doesn’t it?

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Psalm 23 was not written so that we could recite it at funerals.

One of our problems as a church is that so many of the wonderful statements in the scriptures that are meant to reflect the honest experiences of those who have learned to live in interaction with God are in fact ritualistically and magically quoted by people who don’t believe a bit of it, because they are scared to death! Nothing has ever happened to them that they are certain is the personal hand of God in their lives. And it drains the life out of those verses.

Take Psalm 23 into the day with you tomorrow. It is the presence of the Lord with us.

Consider this passage from Hebrews 13:5–6:

For He has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?”

God’s presence is the whole story. This interaction between us and the God who is present with us always is what the resurrection is really about. The meaning of the resurrection isn’t just that Jesus won; it’s that He is now living with us. So how does that work? It works with words. The kingdom of God works with words. Remember, we are talking about a reality that is personal through and through. That chair you are sitting on, and all of the other things we are trained so carefully to believe are independent, are not going along on their own. They are all subject constantly to the will and word of God. That’s faith! That’s 23rd Psalm faith.

When Paul says things like,

I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to Him. — 2 Timothy 1:12

he is talking on the basis of experience. And that experience came about as a result of the encounter between himself and God and the daily knowledge of God’s hand in his life.

Excerpted with permission from The Allure of Gentleness by Dallas Willard, copyright HarperOne.

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Your Turn

Has this devotion given you a new perspective on Psalm 23? Do you feel the hand of God in your daily life? How are you practicing His presence? Today, let’s choose casual confidence in the knowledge of His sufficiency for our real daily lives. Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily