Revisiting the Valley of Death’s Darkness

Today’s reading is Psalm 27.

Do you remember the Valley of the Shadow of Death? That was definitely a dark picture. I can understand, however, how we might struggle to put legs on that metaphor. What might the Valley of Death’s Darkness look like in a more pragmatic picture? Look no further than Psalm 27. As David continues this series on the house of the Lord, we see his faith along the paths of righteousness. Look at how dark it is for him. Evildoers assail him to eat up his flesh. That’s a pretty brutal picture, but it makes a whole lot more sense if we see it as continuing the sheep metaphor from Psalm 23, doesn’t it? A bit more literally, he says, “Though an army encamp against me” and “war arise against me.” False witnesses had arisen against him breathing out violence. We can try, of course, to place this psalm at a particular moment in David’s reign, but whenever we place it, this picture helps us understand his dark valley and how he made it through. “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” “The Lord is the stronghold of my life.” Can you see how these statements call to mind both metaphors from Psalm 23? He is the light for the sheep in death’s dark valley. He is the stronghold in which the guest is hosted as enemies look on helpless. “Whom shall I fear?” David asks. Paul asks the same question on our behalf in Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Then he goes on to explain that our certainty is far more sure than David’s: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). When we are in the valley as dark as death, we can remember that Jesus has already gone through that valley on our behalf. We can remember He came out on the other side. David had faith even before Jesus. How much more faith can we have in our Shepherd, knowing He has in fact already defeated our biggest enemies. Even if you can’t sense the light, know that to Jesus, your dark valley is as bright as the morning. He will lead you through it. Just keep doing what He says in His Word. You’ll make it. Not because you are amazing, but because our Lord and Shepherd is. Praise God!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 27.

Some Links:

Click here to hear or read Edwin’s sermon on “The Dark Shadow of Psalm 23.”

Click here to be reminded of the Psalm 23 metaphor about the Shepherd.

Click here to be reminded of the Psalm 23 metaphor about the Host.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

Continue reading “Revisiting the Valley of Death’s Darkness”

Unto You, O Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 25.

The previous psalm explained that whoever lifts up his soul to what is false is not allowed to ascend the holy hill of Yahweh. As if in response, this psalm begins with a clear “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” In the previous psalm, this kind of person would receive blessing and righteousness from the Lord. In this psalm, the psalmist is asking the Lord to hold true to His word. “Let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.” However, it is more than a request, it is also a confident assertion. “Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame.” He ends this psalm the same place he begins. His foes are many. They are violent and hateful. But he takes refuge in the Lord and waits on Him. Therefore, he asks and expects the Lord to guard his soul and keep him from shame. Today, we recognize that suffering and struggle, whether from enemies or from some other source, isn’t an indication of shame nor does it lead to shame. Paul tells us our suffering produces endurance, our endurance produces character, character produces hope, and our hope does not put us to shame. Further, we are confident this is true because God’s love has been poured into our hearts and the Holy Spirit has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5). The next time you sing “Unto thee, O Lord,” remember there is no shame with the Lord. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 25.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

Continue reading “Unto You, O Lord!”

The Lord’s Earth

Today’s reading is Psalm 24.

In Hebrew, the first word of Psalm 24 is Yahweh. “Yahweh’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and its inhabitants.” The emphasis is not on the earth or its fullness. It is not on the world and its inhabitants. The emphasis is on the owner: Yahweh. Yahweh owns all that is because He is the one who conquered the chaos and created the cosmos. Moses proved this in Exodus 9:29 when Yahweh was the one who started and stopped the hail, but no Egyptian god could (and that was demonstrated 10 times over). In recognizing this amazing ownership, Moses registered shock that God would settle His steadfast love on one family among mankind in Deuteronomy 10:14-15. David understood that since this was true, when he gave to God, he was only giving to God what was actually His already in 1 Chronicles 29:11-16. Based on this knowledge, Asaph grasped that God did not ask for offerings because of His own needs in Psalm 50:9-13. Because this is true, Paul was able to recognize that idols were nothing and no food actually belongs to an idol in 1 Corinthians 10:25-26. And this makes Yahweh distinct from the ancient gods. Yahweh is not a personal God. He is not a national God. He is not a territorial or regional God. He alone is God. He is not merely God on Zion, He is God everywhere. You cannot make Yahweh your God. He is your God. You can either recognize it now or recognize it later. I can tell you which one would be better. Yahweh is the only God! Hallelujah!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 24.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

Continue reading “The Lord’s Earth”

The Destiny of the Saint

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

We’ve been on a journey this week as we walked with the sheep from the pasture to the palace, and then again with David as he traveled that same path, and then with Israel as they did the same. With this week’s discoveries in mind, what is the message for us today? Of course, we must first remember who our Shepherd is. In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” It’s not that Yahweh was Israel’s Shepherd, while Jesus is ours. Rather, Jesus is Yahweh who is the Good Shepherd. You see, our Shepherd is more than that. He is also the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He went through the crucifixion to prepare a place for us. He defeated death to prepare a path for us. Today, we are wandering through the wilderness of this life. We wander in the pastures as Jesus lets us lie down there and then leads us by still waters. He restores our soul when we are harassed, distressed, downcast. When our way is dark as death, so dark we can’t even see Him, He is still there. With His rod and staff He guides us through paths of righteousness. And, yes, sometimes the path of righteousness goes right through the valley of the shadow and darkness of death. However, He is leading us somewhere. He is leading us to the palace. He is leading us to the marriage feast of the Lamb (see Revelation 19:9). Yahweh took Israel from the pasture to the palace. Yahweh took David from the pasture to the palace. Yahweh is taking us from the pasture to the palace. Hang on to the Shepherd, He will become our eternal host. And we will dwell in His house forever. Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 24.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier that expands on this post!

Continue reading “The Destiny of the Saint”

The History of Israel

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

When we compare Psalm 23 to 2 Samuel 7, we see David’s autobiography, being taken from the pasture to the palace. But we see more. David’s life mirrored the history of Israel. Therefore, so does Psalm 23. Though I admit it isn’t spelled out quite as plainly, in 2 Samuel 7, God reminds David of the years Israel spent wandering in the wilderness in tents. He does specifically call the judges He used during those days as shepherds of His people in 2 Samuel 7:7. In 2 Samuel 7:10, He explains His plans to plant Israel so they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. He will give them rest from their enemies. In other words, though not quite as literally as David, God took Israel from the pasture to the palace. There are other connections. For instance, in Deuteronomy 2:7, Moses reminded Israel that as God led them through the wilderness, they lacked nothing. In Psalm 78:19, Asaph refers to God’s work in the wilderness as spreading a table before Israel and then explained that when the rock gushed water it overflowed streams. And God was considered the Shepherd of Israel since Genesis 48:15. In other words, the story of Psalm 23 is not just an idyllic picture of comfort. But it is also more than the autobiography of David, it is the history of Israel. A pattern is emerging. This is how God deals with His people. He leads them from the pasture to the palace. Praise the Lord!

PODCAST!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier that expands on this post.

Continue reading “The History of Israel”

The Autobiography of David

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

There is a lot of argument regarding when Psalm 23 was written. Most people, knowing of David’s youth as a shepherd, are willing to accept the heading “Psalm of David” to mean he actually wrote it. But when? Some picture the youthful David writing as he lay among the sheep staring up at the stars. Some, recognizing its maturity, picture an aged David looking back on a life of ups and downs, but seeing the Shepherd or Host with him through it all. I guess I’ll wade into the discussion as well. I think it was written around the events of 2 Samuel 7. If it wasn’t written around that time, I’m convinced it was based on that experience. In 2 Samuel 7, David wanted to build a house for the Lord, but the Lord refused. Instead, He told David He would build a house for him (yes, that’s a play on words). Look at 2 Samuel 7:8. God had taken David from the pasture and made him a prince. Doesn’t that sound like our psalm as it moves from a sheep wandering in green pastures, to a guest in a king’s palace feasting in the presence of enemies? And David’s house, according to 2 Samuel 7:16, would be established forever. How long would David dwell in the Lord’s house? In 2 Samuel 7:14, David is reminded of the rod of the Lord’s discipline. And in 2 Samuel 7:15, he is told the steadfast love of the Lord will never depart from him. Sounds an awful lot like goodness and mercy following all his days. And when David concluded his prayer, he said, “For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever” (2 Samuel 7:29). I could be completely wrong about this, but when I read Psalm 23 next to 2 Samuel 7, I see Psalm 23 as a very poetic autobiography of David. Under the Lord’s watchful eye, he was carried through the wilderness and even through the valley of the shadow of death into the house the Lord had provided for him. Under the Lord’s provision, he moved from the pasture to the palace. And David knew how it had happened. It happened not because he was such an amazing sheep, but because he was cared for by such an amazing Shepherd. What a beautiful picture!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 23.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to listen to the 15 minute Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier that expands on this post.

Continue reading “The Autobiography of David”

The Lord is My Host

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

The Lord is my host. That imagery is not nearly as beloved today as yesterday’s shepherding imagery. However, that is exactly what our psalm moves to in vss. 5-6. I recognize and appreciate the view that the picture of shepherding persists throughout the whole psalm. And, in fact, it might. I could be wrong about this. However, as much as we can stretch the figures of vs. 5 to still apply to a shepherd with his sheep (preparing tableland pastures, anointing the head of the sheep with medicinal ointments, the cup of ointment being in abundance), these metaphors are most simply and most literally applied to the role of a host at a feast. When the Lord is our host, a sumptuous table is spread before us. Not only that, but the disturbing odors of the day in the hot sun are removed by the fragrant anointing oil that softens the skin and soothes the weariness. And the cup overflows. Like the Lord’s sheep led by the abundance of quiet waters, the Lord’s guest never waits for a refill and doesn’t have to worry that the supply of refreshment will be depleted. But as with the sheep and his Shepherd, being the guest of the Lord is not all sunshine and daisies. We feast under the threatening eyes of the enemies. We are in a scene of plenty, but there is danger. For the sheep, the rod and staff comforts. For the guest, it is goodness and mercy. And, we must recognize that goodness and mercy do not passively follow along. They pursue. They chase us down. In almost an inversion on the whole enemy picture, though enemies are present, they aren’t our pursuers. The Lord’s goodness and mercy are. So, why would I be a guest in anyone else’s house? Why would I feast with any other master? I will dwell in Yahweh’s house. After all, in His house, I lack nothing. Hallelujah!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 23.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier that expands on this post.

Continue reading “The Lord is My Host”

The Lord is My Shepherd

Today’s reading is Psalm 23.

It has become, perhaps, the most beloved word picture in all of Scripture. Yahweh is my Shepherd. Because He is my Shepherd, I will not want. That is, I lack nothing. Not that I get everything I ever wanted, but I discover all the Lord provides is all I need. He provides me with comfort, contentment, peace, sustenance. He provides the safety that allows me to lie down, though I’m naturally skittish and characteristically frightful. Though I would typically drink down any muddy, parasite-infested gulp of water I can find, He leads me to quiet, still, refreshing waters. He gives guidance down good paths because it glorifies His name to do so. This is not to say that it is all sunshine and daisies or rainbows and buttercups with my Shepherd. Sometimes I wander, become downcast, get myself caught in the brambles and bushes, get bogged down in the headbutting order with my fellow sheep. It isn’t pretty. But, my Shepherd gently refreshes, renews, and restores me. Other times, He walks through the valley of the shadow of death. Death’s shadow is really, really dark and gloomy. Predators lurk everywhere. It is scary. I don’t always understand why He has led me that way. But I have learned He is still with me in the dark. His rod and staff protect me and discipline me, but it is always for my good. The Lord is my Shepherd. I’m a blessed sheep. Hallelujah!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 23.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation that expands on this post.

Continue reading “The Lord is My Shepherd”

The God of Jacob

Today’s reading is Psalm 20.

In Genesis 34, Simeon and Levi did the unthinkable. They carried out a plan and attack against an entire city-state in Canaan, wiping out all of their men in a single night raid. Jacob became petrified. He looked at his tiny family in comparison to the other city-states of the Canaanites and said, “You have brought trouble on me by making me stink to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. My numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household” (Genesis 34:30, ESV). In the next chapter, however, God calls Jacob to go to Bethel to make good on the promise Jacob had made as he was fleeing Esau years earlier. Jacob tells his family to put away their idols and even give up the jewelry they might use later to re-forge their idols. And then he says, “Let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answer me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone” (Genesis 35:3, ESV). Then the text lets us know that Jacob’s fears were completely unfounded: “And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob” (Genesis 35:5, ESV). Years later, David writes Psalm 20. A prayer Israel can pray when he is leading her armies to war. And what is the blessing they seek? “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble [distress]! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!” (Psalm 20:1, ESV). Do you see why Israel would call on the “God of Jacob” for their king and for their armies? Do you see why we can call on the “God of Jacob” for our churches and our brethren? We have nothing to fear. The God who protected Jacob from the provoked people around him, the God who had been with Jacob as he fled Esau and as he plundered Laban, the God who saw Jacob through his days of distress is our God. He will be with us wherever we go. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 20.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes and listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier that expands on this post!

Continue reading “The God of Jacob”

The Consistent God

Today’s reading is Psalm 18.

All throughout Psalm 18, David links back to earlier events. Perhaps the coolest connection is in vs. 16 when he says God “drew me out of many waters.” The only other place the word translated “drew me out” is used is when Moses was drawn out of the water in Exodus 2:10. In other words, God is dealing with David just as He did Moses. Then there is so much language that is reminiscent of events like judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, the Exodus, victories during the conquest period. Hailstones as in the plagues and in conquest victories. Foundations of the earth laid bare under the channels of the sea as in the crossing of the Red Sea. Lightning, thunder, shaking earth as in Israel’s time at the base of Mt. Sinai and also judgment on Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. If God is anything, He is consistent. He cares for His people. He keeps His Word. He delivers. He judges. He is not erratic or fickle. With God, you know exactly what you are going to get. Granted, you don’t always know exactly when you are going to get it. However, you do know it will be at the best possible time for His glory and our good. But this is how God treats His people, all of His people, of all times, in all places. We don’t have to fear we are going to be an exception. Of course, He’s also consistent in His dealings with His enemies. Sure, He is patient. The judgment is rarely administered immediately. And too many take that patience as a clue for tolerance or escape. But God is consistent in judgment of enemies as well as salvation of His people. Hang on to that. Don’t let go.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 18.

Continue reading “The Consistent God”