The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.
Even 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 overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Ps 23)
Wednesday. Middle of the week.
July 1st. Middle of the year. Half gone, half to come.
Middle of life? Part gone, part to come.
How’s it going so far? Most people can identify with the Psalmist: sometimes we seem to lie down in green pastures, beside quiet waters (at a social distance, of course). Other times we may have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, or be very aware of the presence of enemies. We all have times of joy, excitement, happiness – and times of frustration, grief, confusion. And we all have times of doing the right thing, even though it might hurt – and times of giving in to temptation and regretting it afterwards.
David was just the same, as you can easily see if you read his life story in 1 and 2 Samuel. Many times he pressed in to God, seeking guidance, help, protection, provision and wisdom. But there were times when he got it completely wrong – like the Bathsheba/Uriah incident, or the time when he insisted on carrying out a survey of his army, against everyone’s advice, and paid the penalty.
The Bible’s verdict on David is that he was a man ‘after God’s heart’, and in spite of his mistakes and failures, at the end of the day he is remembered as Israel’s ideal king, loved by the Lord to the extent that when Jesus comes he is feted as the ‘Son of David’. So what about those mistakes and failures? What about the blatant sin in David’s life? Did God simply ignore it because He liked David? Did He operate a different standard, compared with everyone else?
Actually no, He didn’t. When David got it wrong, he took the consequences – for example when the baby born to him and Bathsheba died. God did not overlook evil. BUT – and it’s a huge BUT – David acknowledged his sin, repented before God, and received forgiveness.
Just like us. Whatever your week looks like so far, or your year, or your whole life, there is complete and utter forgiveness available the moment you come before the Lord in repentance. And when you walk through the valleys, sensing enemies all around, but forgiven and at peace with Him, He remains your faithful shepherd, leading, restoring, anointing you with His love and mercy. So we can say, with David, Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.