Anglican Morning Devotion for 22 September 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” (Psalm 23:1-6; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
The dry and thirsty parched earth receives the life-renewing droplets of spring rain in the same way the Christian receives the Water of Life he discovers in the Scriptures. The soul that faints of hopelessness and tribulation is renewed in whole and full by the promises and Spiritual Presence of the Lord in his life. We continue with the 23rd Psalm we began yesterday.
He restoreth my soul – Because we are as sheep compared to the Providence of God, we often fail and falter. We loose confidence in our walk. But He lifts us up and gives us new hope. Are we weary? He encourages us by His Voice –“ just a bit further in the journey and we will have found the new pastures to which I am leading you.” When we are too tired to proceed, He lifts us to His breast and carries us near His Heart just as the shepherds do until this day. His Voice is uniquely different from every other voice and we respond to it as sheep do to their shepherd.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. – He only leads continually in the right way to sanctify us and improve our lives. As the Psalmist says: “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.” (Psalm 25:10). Through our obedience and righteous living, we glorify our Shepherd. All the other shepherds stand in awe at the orderly and loving company of His flock.
thou art with me; For me, this is the most powerful line in the Psalm. I call to the bar the following two witnesses:
- The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of deathlight is sprung up. (Matt 4:16)
- Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.(John 8:51)
The last witness, the Lord Himself, assures us that we may only view the ‘shadow of death’ but a shadow is not the real thing, but only a spectre. The Ark offered complete security for Noah and his family because they stood WITH God. The Ark of Christ is always and forever the safe place. He is with us even in the valley of the ‘shadow of death’. We need not fear for the Shepherd is with us, and where He leads is always to a place of greater and more abundant blessing.
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me – The Shepherd’s Staff is both a Rod and a Staff. The top end has a hook in it to rescue those little lambs who fall in the rocks and crevices. The Shepherd pulls them from places of danger with His staff. But the bottom end of the Staff is a sharpened Rod. It is used to prod the sheep who attempt to wonder into danger. The Lord uses both in leading us in life’s journey. If we remain alert and obedient, the Shepherd will not need the use of either end of His Staff.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies – No matter the presence of strong enemies in the field arrayed against us, the Shepherd will take measures to defend and feed His sheep. He feeds us with the food that is comfortable for us. The greenest grass on the slopes and valleys of pasture is our food. The enemy (wolves, lions, dogs) lurking around the perimeter of the flock cannot eat our food. It is not suitable to them for they must have blood only. So He feeds us before them.
Thou anointest my head with oil – He takes time and care to anoint us with the oil of the Holy Spirit. So anointed, we appear refreshed and present a pleasant fragrance by our love and obedience to our Shepherd.
My cup runneth over – Certainly, there are moments in which a child of God can barely handle the enormity of love and spiritual blessing flowing from God’s Hand to us. The world often wonders how a Christian can seemingly be overcome with troubles and yet give every evidence of joy and happiness in his state. I have discovered that the best method to dispel sorrow or depression is to sing the Godly and classic old hymns of the church – the same I have heard from my mother’s lips as a child. God does not only fill our Cups ….He fills them to overflowing. As we drink from our cups, they remain still full and still overflowing. His Grace is a well-spring of Living Waters.