Need Hope?

Hope. What do you need hope for right now? I imagine we can each easily call something to mind for which we need hope. Or, we can anticipate the times that will come when finding hope will be a challenge.  

As I continue from Psalm 23 in Need Peace, this last part has given me much hope over the last months:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

My Shepherd Provides

A few years ago while I was at a friend’s home in the country, I noticed a small white pup in the pen with a little lamb. Since my border collie, Pepper, can’t be alone in a pen with sheep, I wondered why this dog was in there. Curious how this relationship was going to work out, I soon noticed the puppy and the lamb resting on one another.

Later I discovered this breed of dog lives with the sheep and protects them. From a young age they sleep with the sheep and instinctively protect and not harm them. With this dog they are kept safe from predators. The Shepherd will do whatever it takes to provide for and protect the sheep.

In our Psalm I read it this way:

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; 
You PREPARE a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
You have ANOINTED my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
My cup OVERFLOWS.

During biblical times the host or hostess prepared a table for their guest, anointed them with oil, and kept their cup full. The guest was honored and blessed by the hostess. I noticed as I read this part of the Psalm, not only is the Lord MY Shepherd, but He is like a host to me.

The Lord provides and blesses.

And He provides and blesses abundantly. He does not hold back. He causes my cup to overflow.

When I was in Ireland I was captivated by the green pastures, the rolling hills, the vast landscapes and the rising cliffs. I couldn’t believe how green it was. There was green in abundance! But to be that green requires a lot of rain. Though I never knew what the day would hold in the way of weather and rain, I did know that when it cleared it was going to be beautiful with the abundance of green.

If the Lord is My Shepherd He provides abundantly! His past and present provision gives me assurance and hope.

My Shepherd Pursues

Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life;
Surely, goodness and mercy WILL FOLLOW ME all the days of my life;

This phrase, “will follow me,” is pretty remarkable. At first glance I think, “That is great, God goes before me, is with me AND even behind me.” I love the assurance that God is with me at all times. But this, “will follow me” is much more intense. It instead speaks of pursuit. God’s goodness and mercy pursue me all the days of my life. It is constant and determined. 

If the Lord is MY Shepherd I have complete confidence that He with His goodness and mercy will pursue me. I can’t shake it. Therefore I have great hope for the future!

My Shepherd Assures

Lastly, Psalm 23 ends with this:

I will dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
I will dwell in the house of the Lord MY WHOLE LIFE LONG.

It is easy this time of year to get bogged down by what is right in front of me, the here and now- the cookies, the parties and gifts. Yet, as I sung, “Joy to the world, the Lord is born…” today, I was reminded I was not just singing a carol but a truth about history and about a certain future, a hope.

I love when I get to this part of the Psalm, for it wraps up Psalm 23 with such confidence. Even though David is referring to dwelling with the Lord the rest of his life, I have assurance forever. For Jesus came to defeat death and brokenness, so that I may be forgiven and dwell with Him forever.

because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 2Corinthians 4:14

If the Lord is MY Shepherd I will dwell with Him forever. This truth brings confidence. It is a sure hope. This life will fade along with the brokenness and sorrow. A new day will dawn and I will be with My Shepherd. 

No matter how I feel at the moment. No matter how dark the valley, there is a hope for my future.

As I watch the little lamb and the dog together I am reminded what good intentions and plans My Shepherd has. He goes to great lengths to provide, pursue in love and assure His sheep. Because of these truths I have great hope.

A book to consider: Heaven

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