By Waylon Bailey
God’s Word is filled with lessons about life. It is one of the reasons the Bible has sold more copies than any other book in history, possibly over one billion copies.
Within Holy Scripture there are multiple passages which draw us closer to God and help us cope with the daily struggles of life. Psalm 23 stands near the top of that list.
Here are three amazing lessons which help us with life.
First, God wants to guide us as a shepherd guides his sheep, giving leadership and protection.
In Israel, shepherds did not drive their sheep; they led them. While we sometimes think of God as demanding and driving, He actually wants to walk with us and lead us in His righteous paths.
We all know that life can become difficult and overwhelming, but God leads us with His presence through the deepest valleys of life. Psalm 23 teaches that we can always depend on God.
Second, God wants us to enjoy His presence forever. He “prepares a table” for us. Is there any time of the day better than when we sit around a table eating, talking, and laughing? God desires that we have that kind of fellowship with Him.
Third, God wants to bless you. The psalm ends in a grand crescendo when the psalmist declares: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
These words teach us about the blessings of God. In the Hebrew language the word for blessing is plural. God never gives a single blessing. He showers us with blessings.
God wants us to experience His goodness and love.
The word for “goodness” is the common word for goodness. My parents were so right when they taught me “God is good; God is great.”
“Mercy” is the Hebrew word Chesed, the closest word in the Old Testament to the New Testament concept of grace. Why did God stick with the people of Israel even when they were disobedient? It was His Chesed, His steadfast love. The word is also translated loving kindness and mercy, God can be counted on. He has magnificent blessings for His children.
There is at least one other amazing feature about verse six. God pursues us with His blessings. God is not an uninterested observer in our lives. He seeks us that we may know Him and live with Him.
We are not the only ones who want to live in the house of the Lord forever. God desires us. He wants us to know Him and live with Him forever.
Though there is not a word for the concept of eternity in Hebrew, this verse speaks of living with God to “the on and on,” a beautiful way of describing God’s plan for us to be in His presence.
No wonder this is called “the Pearl of the Psalms.” It describes God’s heart for His people. He wants to know us, and He wants us to live with Him forever.
Waylon Bailey is senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Covington and president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Board. This editorial first appeared on his blog.