Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Daily Reading: Psalm 23v3

"  he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
   for his name's sake"

David continues to meditate on the care of God his shepherd.  God doesn't just provide for his physical needs but refreshes his very soul.  What does this look like?  Well we see it in the book of Ruth, Naomi comes back to Bethlehem bitter after the death of her 2 sons and her husband and she seems to be stuck in a bitter spirit throughout most of the book.  But in ch4v15 as she holds Boaz on her knee the women say "He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age."  It's the same idea here in Psalm 23, to be refreshed in soul is to be strengthened and encouraged and given hope where there was none or where it was waning.  

Think of David's friendship with Jonathan as an example of that, when David was troubled or at a loss it was Jonathan who strengthened him.  In 1 Samuel 23 when David is on the run and at Horesh he learns that Saul has come out with an army to kill him.  But Jonathan meets David and "helped him find strength in God."  How?  By reminding him of God's covenant promise that he would be king and what that meant for right now in this very situation.  God provides refreshing for David's troubled soul, and that is just one example.

God as shepherd provides for his sheep, for the whole of their life, physical and spiritual.  Just stop and think about how God has done that for us for a moment.  Think of how God has worked through the centuries so that we have the Bible in our hands in a language we can read.  God providing refreshment for our soul.  Think of those who labour so that we can hear the Bible taught and applied.  Or think of the hundreds of resources we have available to us as a means of spiritual refreshment.  Or think of the people in your life who are like Barnabas, the son of encouragement, a guy so encouraging that it was as if encouragement was his dad and he'd learned and breathed encouragement from being knee high.  Those who, when we are low, listen, love and encourage us to see God's promises, to trust his love sometimes by words sometimes simply by being with us and modelling the gospel to us.  Each of those provided by God to refresh us when we are weary of heart.

David next turns to the guidance he enjoys as one of the great Shepherds sheep.  God guides his people to where he knows they need to go.  He takes us to the right path, the path of those who live life skilfully with God as their God.  God works to get us to where he needs us to go, though those paths may not always be easy as we'll see in v4.  Our comfort as we follow where the shepherd leads comes from the character of the shepherd, because God always acts in ways that are consistent with his character.  We choose names because we like the sound of them, or they have an attachment to someone we knew or who meant a lot to us.  But in Hebrew culture a name was thought to reveal that persons character.  We can trust God's leading because he will lead us in a way that is consistent with his name and character.  Our trust is in him, our gaze is fixed on him not the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  We live by faith in Yahweh not by sight.

And God's character is revealed supremely in Jesus who comes as the good shepherd (John 10) in the flesh and shows God's love and glory as he goes to the cross for us, rises again, and ascends to heaven from where he pours out his Spirit on and in us.  We can trust the guidance of such a God as Yahweh. Doesn't that give us confidence as we face another day no matter what it holds.  As circumstances assail us, as we live in a broken world experiencing it's brokenness whilst catching glimpses of it's marred reflected of the glory of God we do so knowing God is with us.  He does not change even as our circumstances do.  And he provides for our refreshment even at times when we feel like we might be failing.  Look out for those refreshments as they come, identify them, thank God for them as they are signs of his care.  And be God's means of refreshing others too.

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