WALKING IN THE OLD PATHS
The Shepherd's Psalm--Part (vi)
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
In our last essay on this beloved Psalm, we discussed the frightening experience of "The valley of the shadow of death." During the intervening time, some of us have walked in that dark vale. For me it was the stark reality of a beloved sisterís death. For other friends, perhaps it was the discovery that a dreaded disease lurks within. Some may have suffered difficulties of a very personal sort. The heartaches which must be borne alone bring the darkest clouds and the deepest wounds.
Surely a beneficent Creator has so designed our world that the beauties of morning follow the darkness of night. The day breaks:
"When the dusky veil of the night is drawn
When clouds unfold and flee,
When song birds wake, and a saffron dawn
Steals over a silver sea."
So it is in the spiritual sphere; when the dark clouds and chilly mists of the valley of death swallow us up we can peer through the darkness and see the warm lights of His banqueting house. By faith we can say with the Shulamite maiden:
"He brought me to the banqueting house, And His banner over me is love." (Song of Solomon 2:4).
It is surely by no mere coincidence that the Psalmist reflects on his journey through the dread valley and then in the next verse speaks of a prepared table. This is undoubtedly the banqueting table of love which the Lord Jesus Christ has prepared for His own. Here we renew and strengthen our fellowship and communion with our lovely King. In the place of His presence we enjoy the regal glory of the King of Kings. We bring joy to His heart and refreshment to our own soul when we see the King in His beauty. As we gaze upon the lovely thorn scared brow and nail pierced hands, our hearts crave to love Him more. It is here that our hearts are tuned to praise His Name.
In His banqueting house there is rest and nourishment for the tired and drooping spirit. It is there, too, that we can tell Him of the somber skies and the rugged roads we have been plodding and in His tender embrace, we learn the truth of Isaiah 40:31. "But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint."
We do not need to await the end of our sojourn in the dark land for He can "prepare a table in the wilderness", and He does this in the presence of our enemies. My! How the enemies of truth are confounded when they expect to find us overwhelmed by sorrow and fear and come upon us feasting with our lovely King Jesus and enjoying our propinquity to Him.
Finding himself in this position, David says, "You anoint my head with oil". (Psalm 23:5) This is most assuredly the same oil with which the King himself is anointed. In Psalm 45:7 it is called "The oil of gladness". The anointing of oil in ancient days was most significant for kings and priest were marked out by such a ritual. How astonishing it is to read that He has "made us kings and priests to our God, And we shall reign upon the earth." (Revelation 5:10)
Beloved friends, the blessings of our salvation are much more than an insurance policy for the next world.
"My cup runs over". Ah, this prepared table knows no rationing. There is a great affluence of spiritual things for us to feast upon. None need go away unsatisfied. These words call to remembrance Paulís epistle to the Ephesians 1:3-7: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace."
The prepared table is the daily provision for everyone who by faith in Jesus Christ has been saved by His abundant grace.
Jack Scott loved his Lord! He passed away on January 10, 2001 after a lengthy illness.
He is missed greatly by his family.
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