The Withering Fig Tree (2)

By Wilma on April 30, 2011

Following on from last blog on the subject of the fig tree
If we look back at what had just happened before the incidence of the withered fig tree, we can see Mark 11 records that Jesus had come into Jerusalem on the back of a colt. People were waving branches, and worshiping Him, calling on Him to ‘save’ them. (Hoshana), but Jesus knew that was surface adoration, and it would not be long till they were crying, ‘crucify Him.’ This sham was just outward talk and not what was going on inside. So it is with the fig tree: When you see the green lush leaves on the exterior, covering the tree, you expect to see fruit when you search the tree, but instead, for many months of the year, you will not find any figs. Indeed the season for fruit is very short! The external covering is not reflective of what is going on in the inside. How often we sit and warm pews, looking great on the outside, but sham inside and certainly not bearing fruit for His Glory! No wonder, Jesus used this illustration!
As we read in the Matthew 21 account Jesus had recently thrown the money-changers out of the temple, quoting Isaiah 56:7, and telling them in verses 12-13 that ‘God ordained His house to be called a house of Prayer and they had turned it into a den of thieves’. (WLT) Again on the outside, the Jews visited the Temple, completed the rituals, kept the rules, but it was all sham and they were using God’s house for profit for themselves. Recently, a survey was done asking people what they thought was the purpose of church. 88% of those asked believe church was there to serve them and their families. That means that only 12 % believed it was a place where they could serve others and bring worship and Glory to God through doing so! Shame on us!
I saw for myself last year, many pious Jews marching to the wailing wall, knocking over market stands from those for whom it was not Shabhat, knocking over other people on the road, in their rush to get there and being totally inconsiderate of any other in their eagerness to show God how holy they were. Each one of us can be guilty of covering up the sham with the fig leaves, just as Adam and Eve covered their shame with the same leaves in the Garden of Eden. God wants to see the reality in us, not that we will do everything perfect, but showing an eagerness to win souls and having the faith to believe He will produce fruit through us.
If Jesus had seen one effort in that tree to produce fruit, a seed, a blossom, a nodule where fruit would grow, He would have been encouraged, but there was nothing. We may think we can do nothing to produce fruit for His Glory, but every serious effort we make, He will bless. Oh yes we will fail as we learn, but if we keep short accounts with God, keep open to His leading and look for the opportunities, He will empower us to be fruitful for His Kingdom.

The Withering Fig Tree (1)

By Wilma on April 14, 2011

Sorry for the long delay in blogging, but I think we are slowly getting back on track. We are so glad to have had a great time with our kids and meeting up with some of you, but it is wonderful to be back in Greece at this time of the year. The Greeks are getting excited for Easter, the weather is wonderful and mild, with signs of Spring showing everywhere. Snow is still low on the mountains and yet the blossom is on many of the trees making the colors quite exquisite.
Today the pastor was talking about the fig tree and since we have fig trees in our garden, the message got me thinking. At the moment we have bare trees, with not even a leaf, but in no time we will have a show of green fleshy leaves completely covering the tree, but still not a bud or any other sign of a fig coming for another while. It is just not the season for figs.
In Matthew 21:22 & Mark 11: 11-23, we read the Biblical account of how Jesus came hungry to the fig tree which was covered in leaves, but there was no sign of fruit and Jesus commanded that no fruit would ever grow on the tree, which then soon withered. When we read passages like this we become confused as to what Jesus was doing, why He would curse a tree and what does that have to do with us today.
For those who would be tree-huggers, we need to realize that it was not a huge issue to cut down or remove a tree at that time. We all are familiar with cut flowers and love to have them decorate our homes, churches, weddings and graves. We cut down Christmas trees and other trees or bushes and have no problems with it. I read recently, where someone said, that there is more chance of survival being a tree in this world, than a baby conceived in a mother’s womb. Many who would not want to see a tree cut down have no problem accepting that there is a choice as to whether a pregnancy is terminated or not. So this does bring some perspective to our ethics.
NB in the Matthew account in verse 20, that the disciples ‘marveled’ about it, but it doesn’t say they were upset. So, it is unnecessary for us to worry about the tree, but look for the reason it was done. When Peter asked Jesus about the withered tree in Mark 11:23>>Jesus told Him that if they had faith to believe then they could do greater things.
Since coming to live here in Greece, I have realized just what it meant to cause a fig tree to wither. The first year we cut back our fig trees as the branches were taking over the yard and many of the branches were left lying at the back of the fence. After winter was over and things were becoming green again, we noticed that many of the dumped branches had taken root and started to grow. The first couple of years we only had foliage on these trees, but last year for the first, these discarded branches, have started to produce fruit of their own. This made me realize how much power it took to kill that tree, when they are so prolific that even discarded branches re-grow and produce fruit.
Imagine then how much Jesus can use us, who were sinners therefore like discarded branches. We have been saved for a purpose and that is to bear fruit for His Glory. We have been grafted in to the main Branch, can drink from the strength of the Root and then produce fruit in abundance.
This was an illustration to show the disciples that if they had faith to believe in the power of prayer, they would see mountains removed, miracles done and much accomplished. This message is just as real and pertinent to us today. If we believe and if we pray, He will do His Work. What an awesome responsibility we have and what a reassuring privilege to be able to see faith in action!

Simplifying Things

By Wilma on December 18, 2010

Thanksgiving is over, third advent Sunday has past with the last approaching fast! Countdown to Christmas and all the hectic that entails has started! How do we prevent ourselves from becoming overstretched in our celebrations?!!
I believe everyone is searching for that answer, but very few find any way to reduce the workload. Even as I think of this blog and realize it is a full two months since I wrote the last one, it makes me realize how busy I have been. Ok, I admit that I have enjoyed the kind of busyness we have at the moment since it involves being with our kids and enjoying our grandkids whom we only get to know in this way every couple of years.
But looking around everything is a flurry of activity for Christmas, unless something happens to stop us flurrying!!! Like an accident, sudden heart attack, death of a friend or even something as simple as snow!!!! This past week we had a stay at home day because of snow. I know many have experienced that kind of day in this winter. In some ways we think we would do so much if we did not have to go out to work, but yet when the opportunity is forced upon me, I somehow flounder and am no longer sure what I should be doing or how best to use my time.
Suddenly, without warning all my plans for the day were shelved and appointments canceled. There was no chance to ‘pop to the shops’ for any forgotten articles for dinner and even though there was plenty to eat at home, it is an unnerving thought that we may run out of something.
Ironically, this happened to me on the same day exactly one year ago, when I ended up in hospital with a broken ankle and many of our plans had to be altered. I figured, I had learnt something over these months about patience and being flexible to the fact that His plans are higher than mine. Yet, when the snow stopped me in my tracks, I realized how quickly I forget the lessons.
As soon as i realized the date, then I began to think on how, at that time, I was able to rest in His care and know I was part of His plan, even if it was not what I had thought would happen. Suddenly, I saw the ‘enforced free’ day from a completely different perspective and it became a good time of organizing and sorting things I seldom get time to do: a time to reflect and think through the events for the holiday period and to arrange appointments.
I saw the day as a respite in a busy schedule and indeed it helped me to see that we do not have to be busy all the time to be effective. The missed things were soon caught up on and our disappointments once again became God’s appointments. Now, I am thankful for the day, happy that the snow did not cause too much chaos, but gave so many people an opportunity for rest, relaxation and a whole lot of fun.
I am trying to keep life simple this year in all areas of life and not to get so caught up that I have no time to appreciate it. I urge that you do the same as you recognize His peace and His timing in the things you do this year. Enjoy the people you are with and reach out to others in need and life will be simpler but more blessed!
Every blessing as we follow His perfect plan for our lives.

Hearken O Daughter!

By Wilma on October 18, 2010

Hearken O Daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your own people also, and your father’s house. For the King has greatly desired your beauty. Because He is the Lord, worship Him. Psalm 45: 10,11

From not long after I was saved, I heard the call of God to serve Him. I was not certain where or how I would serve Him, but I knew I should train to be a nurse. After working there some years, it was time to go and study towards that end, but at that time I was uncertain how my father would react to that news.
I needn’t have worried as when I chose to speak to him about it God had already prepared him and given him this verse to pass onto me. I am sure I had read it before, but suddenly, it took on a new meaning.
I was humbled that my family realized that bringing kids up to serve God and let them go, was much more important than holding us close and watching us grow older. I was relieved to have the blessing of my parents as I went on with God.
But even more important, I was amazed as I looked again at this Psalm and saw the glories of the Messiah with His Bride. If I had seen the passage written without a reference, I would possibly have thought it was from the Song of Solomon, as it is such a ballad of love.
This thought is not only for women as Jesus calls the church His Bride, referring to everyone who has been saved by His Grace. Imagine! the King of heaven desires each one of us. He sees us as beautiful no matter how young, how old, what shape, size or color.
He loves us with a love enough to die for us. No matter who we emulate on earth, it is unlikely they would be prepared to die in our stead!
He wants us to listen to what He has to say and follow after him.
‘Hearken’, means much more than just listen. It means to ‘listen intently, with a will to obey.’ This is the kind of listening we use when waiting for an important, longed for phone call, listening for a child’s cry in the night when they are unwell. Listening with your full attention, ready to move when called!!!
How often do we rush through our time with God and if we do listen it is not even expecting Him to speak and certainly not with the expectancy of getting an answer! We do miss out such a lot in our busyness!
Just in case we did not get the full meaning of hearken, the Psalmist goes further. ‘Consider’ Ponder it! Think carefully about it! When the Lord does speak to us we should carefully consider what He is saying and the great privilege we have of having an audience with and being spoken to by the almighty King of heaven.
Not only hearken and consider, but ‘incline your ear.’ How very often do we talk to someone whom we know is not listening and when we really want to listen to a conversation, we stop whatever we are doing and turn towards the speaker to hear every word.
We have a dog staying with us at the moment and when he wants to hear what we have to say, he turns his ear in the direction of the voice. But if he is enjoying his freedom outside and doesn’t want to respond to the call or whistle to come inside, he keeps the head down and pretends not to hear.
I know we often do that with each other, but it is sad to realize that we sometimes do it with God too! Think about how closely a newly married couple listen to what each other has to say!! Jesus loves us even more than that and yet we often ignore His voice when we do not want to obey!
Today, let us listen carefully and obey joyfully knowing that we are full accepted in the beloved, loved with an everlasting love and serving the King who has made each one of us desirable in His sight!!

By on October 11, 2010

Saul was given a very direct message from God and that was to destroy the Amalekites and everything they owned! God had given the Israelites the victory in battle and Saul knew he should obey. But what harm was there in keeping the king alive and some of the sheep? Or so he thought!!! Saul knew he had done wrong or he would not have lied to Samuel when asked if he had done as God commanded.
Yes, it was a harsh judgement but our Omnipotent, Omniscient God knew what would happen if sin was allowed to remain in the land. He knew the Israelites would marry with the people of the other lands and He knew the foreign gods would draw the Israelites away, no matter how often God had forgiven them and saved them in the past! But Saul, did exactly what God knew he would and even lied about it! What a sad thing for God to say, that he regretted ever making Saul king. How awful would it be to have God regret something He did for us or asked us to do?
Today, we have many things creeping into our lives and fellowships, which are contrary to what God has commanded in His Word. So what do we do? It would be easier to go along with things, to let them slide, keep the peace and the untiy. We don’t have to join them after all, just tolerate them! As we have seen in recent days, when the thin edge of the wedge is allowed in, it is not long before the whole plank is in the door and then we have to live with the consequences. read more

There are practices being accepted in our churches and societies today, which are not only forbidden in the Bible, but our forefathers warned us was allowing sin to remain in the church. Now, in recent times, we have thrown the doors wide opened for sinful habits to walk over us and there is little we can do to stop the influence it will have on future generations. Like the Israelites of old, we will have to bear the consequences of not rooting sin out of our midst for many years to come. Those who do take a deliberate stand against sin are seen as being narrow-minded, bigoted or intolerant. How God’s heart must be grieved! Does He regret ever allowing the institution we call church to come into being? If this is not what God condemned in the Bible, then He will have to apologize to those residents of the late Sodom and Gomorrah?
What about in our personal lives? When God points sin out to us, do we avoid it or walk on the sidelines, close enough to enjoy and hope not to fall in! Do we root out the things we know to be wrong from our lives, ‘avoiding all appearance of evil,’ or do we think it can’t harm us. Switching off a lewd movie, separating ourselves from friends who openly mock Jesus, discontinuing attendance at a church that blatantly disobey God’s Word, are all ways to keep ourselves from evil. Bringing more friends who love Gods standards into our lives, filling our hearts with more of what we know He would have us do and an increase in Bible study and prayer for those who we know need it, are all ways to bring us closer to the Lord and more willing to put His standards first.
How different could the lives of the Israelites have been if Saul had obeyed? Likewise for us. ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice’ in the eyes of God. He wants total obedience, not partial! If He tells you to get out of a relationship/friendship, He doesn’t want you just to explain the Gospel to that person or even try to win them, but to get out of it completely. Saul did go to war with the Amalekites, He did win! He did kill many people including women and kids, but he just kept Agag alive. He did kill many animals including many sheep, he just kept some alive. He partially obeyed, but knew it was not enough. Then He had to lie to make it all look good! The thin edge of sin was now becoming a greater wedge. That day, it was decided that God could no longer trust Saul with the task and from then on Samuel withdrew himself from Saul.
With certainty, it would be the very worst thing for a believer if God should decide we could no longer be trusted with the task He has given us, due to our own disobedience. How often we fail and yet praise God He forgives and continues to use us. Read again the story in 1Samuel 15 and remember afresh, how much more God wants our obedience than anything else we can do for Him. Not only that the major benefit of complete obedience is definitely that He already has the perfect plan worked out for us and by obeying Him, we will follow the plan explicitly, know Him more fully and love Him more dearly.

By on October 11, 2010

I know there are some people who do not think there should be such a day as Father or Mother’s day, but why not have a special day to honor those who add so much to our lives. Of course, some argue, that we should always honor our parents and while this is true, it is nice to have a special day to set aside especially for them. We all have a birthday and although everyone knows from looking at us that we have been born and are aging, it is still nice to have our birthday honoured!

‘The idea for an official Father’s Day celebration came to a married daughter, seated in a church in Spokane, Washington, attentive to a Sunday sermon on Mother’s Day in 1910-two years after the first Mother’s Day observance in West Virginia. The daughter was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd. Who realized that in her own family it had been her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, who had sacrificed-raising herself and five sons alone, following the early death of his wife in childbirth.
Her proposed local Father’s Day celebration received strong support from the town’s ministers and members of the Spokane YMCA. Father’s Day, however, was not so quickly accepted as Mother’s Day. Members of the all-male Congress felt that a move to proclaim the day official might be interpreted as a self-congratulatory pat on the back. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson and his family personally observed the day. And in 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended that states, if they wished, should hold their own Father’s Day observances,
Many people attempted to secure official recognition for Father’s Day, but it was not until 1972-sixty-two years after it was proposed-Father’s Day was permanently established by President Richard Nixon. Historians seeking an ancient precedent for an official Father’s Day observance have come up with only one: The Romans, every February, honored fathers-but only those deceased.’ taken from Good Ideas website. more info

Both our fathers are deceased, meaning we can use the Roman or the American reason to honor them, not that we need either to give credit to two men who did their very best for their families in every way. Both men from very different backgrounds, but were known for their integrity, loyalty, hard work and deep love for their family. Neither man was perfect and would be the first to say it, but they left behind an example for future generations to follow. They were the best of dads and we were extremely privileged to be born into our respective families. We are thankful for the years we had them and just sorry for the grandchildren and great grandchildren, who did not get the opportunity to know them well in person.
But wait, maybe they do get to know them just a bit, through their own parents. In the Bible in Deuteronomy chapter 6, the children of Israel were told to pass on the stories of God’s goodness, the ordinances He set, and the precepts He taught to the next generation. They were to talk about these things in their everyday lives and pass on the information, as a natural part of life. It is our calling in life to do that for our future generations and although all won’t be remembered totally or completely, it will eventually be understood by our offspring. So often, I recall things my father taught me about the Bible or told me about events in history in our own country, and wish I had listened more carefully to the whole story. Probably, until one is married and has children the full impact of sharing the family history does not sink in. How much more important is it to share what God has done for us and what He requires from us?
I see the continuation through the generations in my husband and in our sons. He was and is a great dad and, believe me, our boys were never in any doubt about the wonders God did in our lives, and neither is anyone else he gets half a chance to tell! I see it in my sons, as they also became husbands who make every effort to treat their families in similar ways to what they learnt from their father and grandfathers. What a blessing to witness as they teach their offspring to follow God and His precepts in their lives, and continue the cycle of thankfulness to God for His many benefits.
The responsibility is not only with the fathers but also the mothers to pass on what they have been taught from their folks before them, where even the negative things, show us how to reach out and teach the children better. It is the 2Timothey 2:2 principle of teaching others to teach others! As a support and helpmate, we who spend so much time with the kids, can stress that teaching in everyday life. God never changed His method of passing on the Gospel and the precepts and principles of Christianity, He still chooses us, the ‘weak and the foolish’ humans to be His witnesses by Word and deed. What a blessed day it will be when we all get together in Heaven, to worship and adore the One who is the Father of us all!!! That will be a huge celebration! Meantime, Men, Enjoy your Father’s Day and take seriously your God-given responsibility!

By on October 11, 2010

My grandmother loved life! She was a great friend to all of us as we grew up and was present at every family occasion since ever I remember. So we will miss her. She was born Williamina Stevenson over 103 years ago.
Life was not always easy for Munny as we all affectionately knew her. She was married young and, sadly, widowed after only eight years with 4 children having been born into the family. She also lost her eldest son to TB around the same time. Four years later she remarried and had one more daughter, but alas the war came along and husband number 2 was killed in action. So still with 4 children to bring up, Munny worked all the hours she could in various jobs to keep the family together.
During the early years of her first marriage, Munny and her husband accepted the Lord Jesus into their lives, asking Him to forgive their sins and trusting Him with their lives. Jesus was the mainstay of her life for over 80 years, and she often testified of the many ways in which she knew His presence and help in her daily life, especially in these years of struggle to bring up a family alone during the war and in the following years.

Getting old is really not for cowards, but Munny had amazing strength and health in her life, and never saw herself as aging at all. She was always game for travelling, for visiting, and for a challenge. Even in the last years of her life when she had her limitations, she still enjoyed getting outside and having people visit. The Sunday before she died, she was out for a spin in her wheelchair and enjoyed a cup of tea in the garden at her granddaughter Pat’s home.
In the last few months, she was eagerly waiting on the Lord to take her home and He did that on May 26th this year. For all of us left behind, we thank her for the legacy of joy and happiness she left us. She prayed for us, she enjoyed our company, she passed on her zest for life to us, and most importantly, she told us and showed us what it means to trust in Jesus as Saviour.
Today, she no longer feels 103 years old, but is enjoying the presence of Jesus and all our loved ones who have gone before, while waiting for the rest of the family to join her! We also look forward to that day, but meantime there are many to be reached and much to be learnt. Thanks Munny for all your input into our lives over many years!!!!

By on October 11, 2010

It has been a crazy week in America, featuring one of the most brazen terrorist attacks on civilians since 9-11-01, followed by one of the most watched and riveting man-hunts in American history. Two men, fueled by an ideology where mass murder is acceptable brought a city to its knees, and cost the state and the nation millions. Often we’re left wondering what on earth can we do in the face of such evil? What is the correct response? Are we allowed to respond in righteous anger or do we need to turn the other cheek?

Romans 12:17 puts it this way, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” So what does that look like. When Jesus was crucified and his murder was at first glance a great triumph for evil, He defeated evil simply by defying death. There was no revenge, there was no great reckoning for those who took His life, there was a simple act of defeating evil with good, the Resurrection. What Satan planned for evil, God turned around and made into the ultimate triumph.

What about the early church? They faced terrible localized persecution, and their response was to scatter throughout and beyond the Roman Empire and bring their message of the Gospel with them. There was no rebellion, no armed conflict, simply an act of obedience to the Great Commission which resulted in a revolution of the hearts throughout most of the known world at the time. What was a great act of evil became the largest faith group in the world involving billions of people.

read more

During the Crusades the church took a different approach. In the face of the expanding Arab empires they decided to fight back and engage in Holy Wars. Instead of responding to the onslaught of perceived evil with a missional approach to bring light and the Gospel into that part of the world, they decided to respond with the sword. The results can still be seen today and we are still paying the heavy price in the Middle East and right here at home for this un-Christlike response.

And what about us? The excuse often heard arguing that abortion should be legal for instances of incest and rape, because the woman has had something traumatic done to her and her and the child should not be forced to live with the consequences of another human being’s evil actions. But the same principle found in Romans 12:17 applies. You can only defeat evil by an act of good. The greatest triumph would be for that child to grow up to be a godly individual and good contributor to society, to be given a chance at life to turn something of great evil into something of great good.

So how do we as Christians need to respond to people who hate us and want us destroyed? I would assert that the formula has not changed since Christ first demonstrated it for us. We need to respond to the dark with light. Not with retaliation, not by wiping out those who seek our destruction, but instead by bringing the Gospel of Christ to where they are. The places that hate the followers of Christ the most are the places who have the least access to the message of Christ, and are in essence living in darkness. Lets change that instead of trying to change ideology by brute force. The love of Christ is a force that cannot be defeated by violence. This does not mean we need to become doormats and allow ourselves to be destroyed. It is completely justifiable to seek justice after being attacked, but when revenge or retaliation is our motivation, we steal from God the chance of displaying the grace and mercy that Christians have been shown and should be willing to share.

Walking in an Even Place

By Wilma on September 21, 2010

This subject of walking has been of special interest to me since I have been ‘walking for rehabilitation.’ Having a problem with lack of feeling in the foot, I have to be very sure that where I am putting the foot is not rough, not slippy and not on too much of a slope as otherwise my foot could not do it, and I would end up on my nose.
Psalm 26 shows the psalmist talking about walking in Integrity v1. Trusting in the Lord, he knew he would not slip because the Lord was leading. Isn’t it true that after we slip in our Christian lives, we think back and realize that our relationship to God had become distant and He was no longer doing the leading?
Verse 3 talks about His Lovingkindness being before our eyes and we therefore walk in His Truth. When we think back to the number of times He has blessed us and the times He has guided us, and we remember that closeness of His guidance and presence, it makes us want to walk closer, to avoid the rough pitfalls by being in his presence.
Verse 7 reminds us of telling of His wondrous works. One of the best ways of remembering what God has done for you, is to recount your story to someone else who wants to know more about God. When we tell it to others, we are blessed by being obedient to the Great Commission as well as reminded of His Love and Care for us through the years. Not many of us are able to just go out and strike up conversations, which immediately become deep theological discussions, but we can all tell our stories, the stories of His Grace and Lovingkindness, and remind others that He will do the same for them, if they trust Him.
Verse 12 reads, ‘My foot stands in an even place’ I understand this verse so much better now. In Christ, no matter what is thrown our way, we will not stumble if our feet have been placed by Him on an even place. When I have to stand for a while, I search out the flattest less rough place I can find and plant my foot on even ground. It is quite amazing how much longer I can stand if these conditions are met. As we live our lives in a relationship with Christ and walk with Him, he takes the rough side of the road and places our feet on even ground.
Therefore as the verse continues, ‘we can bless the Lord in the congregations.’ He gives us that peace that others realize they need and we can lead them to Him. People are looking for security and peace in all kinds of things in this world and many have seen these systems fail. Let us show them, the even place that God has provided for their feet and the peace He has promised for their hearts and minds, not forgetting the hope he has provided for their future.
No wonder David could then continue with Psalm 27 knowing that his feet were on even ground through Grace!

Pondering Psalm 23

By Wilma on August 14, 2010

As I continue my walking and reading the Psalms, my foot is becoming more mobile and my soul more blessed by pondering these scriptures!
Psalm 23 is by far the best known of all. It is recited at weddings, funerals and many other occasions. It is committed to memory by most kid’s Sunday School classes and at least part of it can be remembered by many, even unbelievers.
By the time David writes Psalm 23, he has been a shepherd himself so He knows a lot about sheep. Yet, that is no answer as to why we get such comfort from it. It is not a long psalm, but neither is it the shortest, so that can’t be the only reason to commit it to memory.
I believe that because it deals with the main aspects of life all in one Psalm is one reason why we find it so comforting and reassuring. Take a look!
V1: I shall not want! He will provide!
V2: He makes me lie in Green pastures and by still waters! He will give rest and refreshment!
V3: He restores my soul! New strength for each day!
V3: leads me in the right paths: Divine Guidance!
V4: Though I walk through the valley of death…..He is with me! Comfort in Death!
V4: I will fear no evil! Removal of fear!
V5: You prepare a table for me! Bountiful provision
V5: Anointed with oil! Health and Wisdom
V6: Goodness and Mercy shall follow me! Loving and being loved!
V6: I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever! Eternally secure!
The Great Shepherd gives His own life for His sheep!
Note how easily David flips from talking to us one minute and the next to God!
V1-3 he is talking directly to us and from 4-6 he is talking explicitly to God. This shows the intimate relationship David has with his God, when he can talk in the same way as he would with his dearest friend! Throughout the Psalms David alternates between talking to the reader and worshiping the Inspirer!
But on a much more serious note, God can’t do for us what it says in verse 4 onward unless we have let Him do what is in v 1-3 first. We need to allow Him to be our shepherd, to lead and guide us, to restore our souls back to Him before He can prepare the table, walk through the valley, remove the fear or assure us of the fact that our home in heaven is waiting! The promises of 1-6 are for everyone, but the promises of 4-6 will only be enjoyed by those who have made sure that they are guided by the Shepherd through verses 1-3, and that means we have to decide to belong to His flock!!
The promises God gives us here are like the covenants He made with the prophets in the Old Testament. Remember when He prepared the sacrifice, He walked between the sacrifices and He made His promises to bless and to prosper! It was all of Him and all that was required of those who went before us was to trust Him and follow Him! Yet they found that hard to do, just as we do today! Look again at the psalm:
He is
He leads
He makes
He restores
He prepares
He is with me
He comforts
Nothing from us: We don’t deserve it and yet…! He gives it all, keeps all the promises and all we have to do is obey the Shepherd.
Isn’t it comforting to think that there is no way we can earn, learn for, work toward or ever deserve our Salvation, yet we can own it in simple faith!
David was certainly not always faithful, always fearless, always where he should have been, but he had learned to trust the Shepherd and even when he sinned to return to the only one who was always faithful and true! Do you know the Shepherd?
No wonder the psalm is well known and loved! It provides us with the entirety of the Gospel in six verses and gives us the hope for the future we are all searching for!