Mike Durning reporting in from the SGI Conference.
I missed the early morning plenary session (Dave Doran) and workshops because I was doing some interviews. They will appear somewhere on the web in the weeks ahead.
I arrived a few minutes late to this 11 AM plenary session to find Mark Hoskinson (Heritage Bible Church, Greer, SC) preaching from Psalm 23. I apologize for the late start.
He is my shepherd (participle structure)—“Shepherd” is not a title. It could almost be translated “The Lord is the on who shepherds me.”
He is my shepherd (singular)—directed personally rather than corporately.
Our shepherd is the provider for his people. He provides our needs. In an ultimate sense, all we need is Him. “God wants you to realize is not more time, money, health, etc- what you need is Him. If you have Him, you have all you need.”
He leads us beside still waters—literally, “waters of rest.” Some comments on rest were given.
He makes us lie down. He gives us rest. It is intentional. He makes us lie down. He causes us to stop and sit in his presence.
The order is rest before activity, rather than the reverse.
He restores our soul. We are continually assaulted from without by this world and by our own sinful natures. But He builds us back up.
He guides us in the paths of righteousness. This is more than paths of moral uprightness. He is leading us in the paths that we need to go—the right paths. He does this for His own glory. His name is at stake.
God is Shepherding you today. You don’t have to know what you’ll be doing in 5 years.
Even if we walk in the shadow of death (or the valley of deep darkness)—he guides our paths. It may not be that sin has brought us there. Sometimes, it is just the right path for us. We don’t plan for these times, or put them on our agenda. But our Shepherd sometimes brings us there, and it is the right path.
As we plan our Mission ministries, we expect some degree of ministry success. Some converts, picking out and training a national pastor. But we don’t expect to be tortured, or chained, or sawn in two. The question is do you have conscious surrender to the will of the Lord? Your path may not lead where you think it does.
Note that he does not say “I will suffer no evil.” He says “I will fear no evil.” What removes the fear is the conscious awareness that the Lord is with us.
The Psalm then turns from a 3rd person discussion about God to a 2nd person prayer to God. “You, God, are with me.” The Shepherd is no longer ahead to lead. He is alongside, to escort.
Rod & staff. The rod was a stick, for defense. The staff is the crook, for control. The rod is for defense from threats without. The staff is for defense from threats within. And these comfort us.
The imagery then changes (v. 5). He is no longer the Shepherd of His people. He is now the host for His people.
The enemies look on, seeing the feast that God has prepared for us, and shout “no!” The Accuser, the Enemy, calls up all the offenses we have made. But to his mortification, he sees the Lord prepare a feast for us.
He anoints our head with oil. Our cup runs over—filled to the point of saturation. Don’t think in terms of God having given us these gifts. It’s that God has given us Himself, filling us with joy.
Verse 6 tells us that God gives us love—love for a lifetime. But God’s love is following us—hunting us down—every day. No worries, though. You want it to catch you. Good thing too. Because if it were just up to you to pursue God’s love for a lifetime … well, we know where that would end.
Our God is our Shepherd. Worthy of our trust, and our praise.