It's Friday, the (almost) end of the week. And it's May 1. Where did April go? This Sunday we hear from Psalm 23. Easily the most well known Psalm. Perhaps the most well known scripture all all of the Bible. One author called Psalm 23 an "American Icon."
It is a deeply familiar scripture, with many deep meanings. Today I wish us to not so much focus on Psalm 23, but Psalm 23 in the context of what comes before and after it.
You know what this means. Go 'head and grab your Bible. Turn to Psalm 23. Read just the first line: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
Nice, right? But go to Psalm 22. Read the first line: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Dang! That is deep and full of despair. Now flip to Psalm 24. Read the first line: "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it"
Wow. Look at that transition the Psalms make:
"My God, my god, why have you forsaken me" to "The Lord is my shepherd" to "To earth is the Lords' and all that is in it".
What can we learn from this? Perhaps the reality of grief, the stages of faith, the fruits of truthfulness.
Faith is not about praising God during the good times. It is about crying out to God during the bad. It is also about groaning out to God under the pressure of life, reminding God of who God is, letting God know when we think God's not doing the best job. Faith is also about transitions.
Read all of Psalm 22. Hear how brutally honest the psalmist is. Here his wounds, listen for her pain. Listen to the admission of despair. Then note how even as dogs surround the singer, hope begins to emerge. In the honest emotions, light shines through, deliverance goes from a distant reality to a hoped-for reality. And then move to Psalm 23. How peace and tranquility steps in, but look: even here are dark valleys and enemies, but God is right there, not so far away. Perhaps it was the tears of Psalm 22 that created the still waters and overflowing cup in Psalm 23. Then read Psalm 24. What a proclamation! Heads are lifted up, blessings are received, God is the one who is ultimately in control.
These three Psalms speak great truth. They spoke truth back then, they speak truth today, and they will speak truth for all time.
God is with us, even when we feel forsaken, even when we are by green pastures, even when our heads are lifted up. And for that we shall all give thanks.
Amen, Pastor G