“A Praying Life, Connecting to God”, Quotes from Paul Miller (Knowing Jesus, Loved, God with us)

Please enjoy the quotes on Prayer from Paul Miller whose bestselling book “A Praying Life” taught Christians how to connect with God in prayer. His website, See Jesus is a wonderful resource for podcasts, blogs, and further teaching as well.

“God takes everyone he loves through a desert. It is his cure for our wandering hearts, restlessly searching for a new Eden…
The best gift of the desert is God’s presence… The protective love of the Shepherd gives me courage to face the interior journey.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of being “in the know,” cynicism actually destroys intimacy. It leads to a creeping bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit…
A praying life is just the opposite. It engaged evil. It doesn’t take no for an answer. The psalmist was in God’s face, hoping, dreaming, asking. Prayer is feisty. Cynicism, on the other hand, merely critiques. It is passive, cocooning itself from the passions of the great cosmic battle we are engaged in. It is without hope.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Prayer is asking God to incarnate, to get dirty in your life. Yes, the eternal God scrubs floors. For sure we know he washes feet. So take Jesus at his word. Ask him. Tell him what you want. Get dirty. Write out your prayer requests; don’t mindlessly drift through life on the American narcotic of busyness. If you try to seize the day, the day will eventually break you. Seize the corner of his garment and don’t let go until he blesses you. He will reshape the day.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Cynicism creates a numbness toward life.

Cynicism begins with a wry assurance that everyone has an angle. Behind every silver lining is a cloud. The cynic is always observing, critiquing, but never engaging, loving, and hoping.

To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of being “in the know,” cynicism actually destroys intimacy. It leads to bitterness that can deaden and even destroy the spirit.

Cynicism begins, oddly enough, with too much of the wrong kind of faith, with naive optimism or foolish confidence. At first glance, genuine faith and naive optimism appear identical since both foster confidence and hope. But the similarity is only surface deep. Genuine faith comes from knowing my heavenly Father loves, enjoys, and cares for me. Naive optimism is groundless. It is childlike trust without the loving Father.

Optimism in the goodness of people collapses when it confronts the dark side of life.

Shattered optimism sets us up for the fall into defeated weariness and, eventually, cynicism. You’d think it would just leave us less optimistic, but we humans don’t do neutral well. We go from seeing the bright side of everything to seeing the dark side of everything. We feel betrayed by life.

The movement from naive optimism to cynicism is the new American journey. In naive optimism we don’t need to pray because everything is under control. In cynicism we can’t pray because everything out of control, little is possible.

With the Good Shepherd no longer leading us through the valley of the shadow of death, we need something to maintain our sanity. Cynicism’s ironic stance is a weak attempt to maintain a lighthearted equilibrium in a world gone mad.

Without the Good Shepherd, we are alone in a meaningless story. Weariness and fear leave us feeling overwhelmed, unable to move. Cynicism leaves us doubting, unable to dream. The combination shuts down our hearts, and we just show up for life, going through the motions.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Sometimes when we say “God is silent,” what’s really going on is that he hasn’t told the story the way we wanted it told. He will be silent when we want him to fill in the blanks of the story we are creating. But with his own stories, the ones we live in, he is seldom silent.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“God also cheers when we come to him with our wobbling, unsteady prayers. Jesus does not say, “Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest.”
― Paul Miller, A Praying Life

“Prayer is a moment of incarnation – God with us. God involved in the details of my life.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Self-will and prayer are both ways of getting things done. At the center of self-will is me, carving a world in my image, but at the center of prayer is God, carving me in his Son’s image.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“If you wait, your heavenly Father will pick you up, carry you out into the night, and make your life sparkle. He wants to dazzle you with the wonder of his love.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Everything you do is connected to who you are as a person and, in turn, creates the person you are becoming. Everything you do affects those you love. All of life is covenant.
Imbedded in the idea of prayer is a richly textured view of the world where all of life is organized around invisible bonds or covenants that knit us together. Instead of a fixed world, we live in our Father’s world, a world built for divine relationships between people where, because of the Good News, tragedies become comedies and hope is born.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NASB). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy. What does it feel like to be weary? You have trouble concentrating. The problems of the day are like claws in your brain. You feel pummeled by life. What does heavy-laden feel like? Same thing. You have so many problems you don’t even know where to start. You can’t do life on your own anymore. Jesus wants you to come to him…”
― Paul Miller, A Praying Life

“God is a person, and his universe reflects his personhood. The closer something is to the character of God, the more it reflects him and the less it can be measured. Things such as integrity, beauty, hope, and love are all in the same category as prayer. You can tell their presence and even describe them, but you can’t define them, simply because they are too close to God’s image.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“When confronted with suffering that won’t go away or with even a minor problem, we instinctively focus on what is missing,…not on the Master’s hand. Often when you think everything has gone wrong, it’s just that you’re in the middle of a story. If you watch the stories God is weaving in your life, you… will begin to see the patterns. You’ll become a poet, sensitive to your Father’s voice.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“What do I lose when I have a praying life? Control. Independence. What do I gain? Friendship with God. A quiet heart. The living work of God in the hearts of those I love. The ability to roll back the tide of evil. Essentially, I lose my kingdom and get his. I move from being an independent player to a dependent lover. I move from being an orphan to a child of God.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

“Instead of fighting anxiety, we can use it as a springboard to bending our hearts to God. Instead of trying to suppress anxiety, manage it, or smother it with pleasure, we can turn our anxiety toward God. When we do that, we’ll discover that we’ve slipped into continuous praying.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“As we wait and pray, God weaves his story and creates a wonder. Instead of drifting between comedy (denial) and tragedy (reality), we have a relationship with the living God, who is intimately involved with the details of our worlds. We are learning to watch for the story to unfold, to wait for the wonder.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“We have an allergic reaction to dependency, but this is the state of the heart most necessary for a praying life. A need heart is a praying heart. Dependency is the heartbeat of prayer.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“We don’t know how bad we are until we try to be good. Nothing exposes our selfishness and spiritual powerlessness like prayer.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“little children never get frozen by their selfishness. Like the disciples, they come just as they are, totally self-absorbed. They seldom get it right. As parents or friends, we know all that. In fact, we are delighted (most of the time!) to find out what is on their little hearts. We don’t scold them for being self-absorbed or fearful. That is just who they are.”
― Paul Miller, A Praying Life

“Even on especially hard days, I began to notice him everywhere, setting a table before me in the presence of my enemies, pursuing me with his love. Both the child and the cynic walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The cynic focuses on the darkness; the child focuses on the Shepherd.”
― Paul Miller, A Praying Life

“The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life. You’ll always be a little too tired,
a little too busy. But, if like Jesus you realize you can’t do life on your own, then no matter how busy,no matter how tired you are, you will find the time to pray.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“We know that to become a Christian we shouldn’t try to fix ourselves up, but when it comes to praying we completely forget that. We’ll sing the old gospel hymn, “Just as I Am,” but when it comes to praying, we don’t come just as we are. We try, like adults, to fix ourselves up. Private, personal prayer is one of the last great bastions of legalism. In order to pray like a child, you might need to unlearn the nonpersonal, nonreal praying that you’ve been taught.”
― Paul Miller, A Praying Life

“The quest for a contemplative life can actually be self-absorbed, focused on my quiet and me. If we love people and have the power to help, then we are going to be busy. Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life, it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer business we can develop an inner quiet. Because we are less hectic on the inside, we have a greater capacity to love… and thus to be busy, which in turn drives us even more into a life of prayer. By spending time with our Father in prayer, we integrate our lives with his, with what he is doing in us. Our lives become more coherent. They feel calmer, more ordered, even in the midst of confusion and pressure.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“The kingdom comes when Jesus becomes king of your life. But it has to be your life.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World

“If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

“One of the subtlest hindrances to prayer is probably the most pervasive. In the broader culture and in our churches, we prize intellect, competency, and wealth. Because we can do life without God, praying seems nice but unnecessary. Money can do what prayer does, and it is quicker and less time-consuming. Our trust in ourselves and in our talents makes us structurally independent of God. As a result, exhortations to pray don’t stick.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

“Many Christians give in to a quiet cynicism that leaves us unknowingly paralyzed. We see the world as monolithic, frozen. To ask God for change confronts us with our doubt about whether prayer makes any difference. Is change even possible? Doesn’t God control everything? If so, what’s the point? Because it is uncomfortable to feel our unbelief, to come face-to-face with our cynicism, we dull our souls with the narcotic of activity. Many Christians haven’t stopped believing in God; we have just become functional deists, living with God at a distance. We view the world as a box with clearly defined edges. But as we learn to pray well, we’ll discover that this is my Father’s world. Because my Father controls everything, I can ask, and he will listen and act. Since I am his child, change is possible—and hope is born.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

“Nothing clears out self-righteousness better than serving someone who is critical of you.”
― Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life


 

“Psalm 23, A Psalm of david”, The Lord is my Shepherd from David Guzik; Commentary (Faithful Expectation, Restored, Loved, Protected)

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD AND MY HOST

Like many others, this beloved Psalm bears the simple title, A Psalm of David. Most account it to be a Psalm of David’s maturity, but with vivid remembrance of his youth as a shepherd. Spurgeon wrote, “I like to recall the fact that this Psalm was written by David, probably when he was a king. He had been a shepherd, and he was not ashamed of his former occupation.”

“It has charmed more griefs to rest than all the philosophy of the world. It has remanded to their dungeon more felon thoughts, more black doubts, more thieving sorrows, than there are sands on the sea-shore. It has comforted the noble host of the poor. It has sung courage to the army of the disappointed. It has poured balm and consolation into the heart of the sick, of captives in dungeons, of widows in their pinching griefs, of orphans in their loneliness. Dying soldiers have died easier as it was read to them; ghastly hospitals have been illuminated; it has visited the prisoner, and broken his chains, and, like Peter’s angel, led him forth in imagination, and sung him back to his home again. It has made the dying Christian slave freer than his master, and consoled those whom, dying, he left behind mourning, not so much that he was gone, as because they were left behind, and could not go too.” (Beecher, cited in Spurgeon)

“Millions of people have memorized this psalm, even those who have learned few other Scripture portions. Ministers have used it to comfort people who are going through severe personal trials, suffering illness, or dying. For some, the words of this psalm have been the last they have ever uttered in life.” (Boice)

A. The LORD as Shepherd sustains.

1. (Psa 23:1) A declaration and its immediate result.

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

a. The LORD is my shepherd: David thought about God, the God of Israel; as he thought about his relationship with God, he made the analogy of a Shepherd and his sheep. God was like a shepherd to David, and David was like a sheep to God.

i. In one sense, this was not unusual. There are other references to this analogy between the deity and his followers in ancient Middle Eastern cultures. “In all Eastern thought, and very definitely in Biblical literature, a king is a shepherd.” (Morgan)

ii. It is also a familiar idea throughout the Bible, that the LORD is a Shepherd to His people. The idea begins as early as the Book of Genesis, where Moses called the LORD the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel (Genesis 49:24).

– In Psalm 28:9 David invited the LORD to shepherd the people of Israel, and to bear them up foreverPsalm 80:1 also looks to the LORD as the Shepherd of Israel, who would lead Joseph like a flock.

– Ecclesiastes 12:11 speaks of the words of the wise, which are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.

– Isaiah 40:11 tells us that the LORD will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His armMicah 7:14 invites the LORD to Shepherd Your people with Your staff…As in days of old.

– Zechariah 13:7 speaks of the Messiah as the Shepherd who will be struck, and the sheep scattered (quoted in Matthew 26:31).

– In John 10:11 and 10:14 Jesus clearly spoke of Himself as the good shepherd, who gives His life for the sheep and who can say, “I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” Hebrews 13:20 speaks of Jesus as that great Shepherd of the sheep, and 1 Peter 2:25 calls Jesus the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls and 1 Peter 5:4 calls Jesus the Chief Shepherd.

– The idea of Jesus as the Good Shepherd was precious to early Christians. One of the more common motifs in catacomb paintings is Jesus as a shepherd, with a lamb carried across His shoulders.

iii. It’s remarkable that the LORD would call Himself our shepherd. “In Israel, as in other ancient societies, a shepherd’s work was considered the lowest of all works. If a family needed a shepherd, it was always the youngest son, like David, who got this unpleasant assignment….Jehovah has chosen to be our shepherd, David says. The great God of the universe has stooped to take just such care of you and me.” (Boice)

iv. “Saith Rabbi Joseph Bar Hamna, there is not a more contemptible office than that of a shepherd…But God disdaineth not to feed his flock, to guide, to govern, to defend them, to handle and heal them, to tend and take care of them.” (Trapp)

v. David knew this metaphor in a unique way, having been a shepherd himself. “David uses the most comprehensive and intimate metaphor yet encountered in the Psalms, preferring usually the more distant ‘king’ or ‘deliverer’, or the impersonal ‘rock’, ‘shield’, etc.; whereas the shepherd lives with his flock and is everything to it: guide, physician and protector.” (Kidner)

b. The LORD is my shepherd: David knew this in a personal sense. He could say, “my shepherd.” It wasn’t just that the LORD was a shepherd for others in theoretical sense; He was a real, personal shepherd for David himself.

i. “A sheep is an object of property, not a wild animal; its owner sets great store by it, and frequently it is bought with a great price. It is well to know, as certainly as David did, that we belong to the Lord. There is a noble tone of confidence about this sentence. There is no ‘if’ nor ‘but,’ nor even ‘I hope so;’ but he says, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.'” (Spurgeon)

ii. “The sweetest word of the whole is that monosyllable, ‘My.’ He does not say, ‘The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the multitude as his flock,’ but ‘The Lord is my shepherd;’ if he be a Shepherd to no one else, he is a Shepherd to me; he cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me.” (Spurgeon)

iii. Overwhelmingly, the idea behind God’s role as shepherd is a loving care and concern. David found comfort and security in the thought that God cared for him like a shepherd cares for his sheep.

iv. David felt that he needed a shepherd. The heart of this Psalm doesn’t connect with the self-sufficient. But those who acutely sense their need – the poor in spirit Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:2) – find great comfort in the idea that God can be a shepherd to them in a personal sense.

v. Spurgeon said that before a man can truly say, “the LORD is my shepherd” he must first feel himself to be a sheep by nature, “for he cannot know that God is his Shepherd unless he feels in himself that he has the nature of a sheep.” He must relate to a sheep in its foolishness, its dependency, and in the warped nature of its will.

vi. “A sheep, saith Aristotle, is a foolish and sluggish creature…aptest of anything to wander, though it feel no want, and unablest to return…a sheep can make no shift to save itself from tempests or inundation; there it stands and will perish, if not driven away by the shepherd.” (Trapp)

c. I shall not want: For David, the fact of God’s shepherd-like care was the end of dissatisfied need. He said, “I shall not want” both as a declaration and as a decision.

i. “I shall not want” means, “All my needs are supplied by the LORD, my shepherd.”

ii. “I shall not wantmeans, “I decide to not desire more than what the LORD, my shepherd gives.

2. (Psa 23:2) How the Shepherd sustains.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

a. He makes me to lie down: The LORD as a shepherd knew how to make David rest when he needed it, just as a literal shepherd would care for his sheep. The implication is that the sheep doesn’t always know what it needs and what is best for itself, and so needs the help from the shepherd.

i. “The loveliest image afforded by the natural world, is here represented to the imagination; that of a flock, feeding in verdant meadows, and reposing, in quietness, by the rivers of water, running gently through them.” (Horne)

b. To lie down in green pastures: The shepherd also knew the good places to make his sheep rest. He faithfully guides the sheep to green pastures.

i. Philip Keller (in A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23) writes that sheep do not lie down easily, and will not unless four conditions are met. Because they are timid they will not lie down if they are afraid. Because they are social animals they will not lie down if there is friction among the sheep. If flies or parasites trouble them they will not lie down. Finally, if sheep are anxious about food or hungry they will not lie down. Rest comes because the shepherd has dealt with fear, friction, flies, and famine.

c. He leads me beside the still waters: The shepherd knows when the sheep needs green pastures, and knows when the sheep needs the still waters. The images are rich with the sense of comfort, care, and rest.

B. The LORD as Shepherd leads.

1. (Psa 23:3) Where the Shepherd leads and why.

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

a. He restores my soul: The tender care of the shepherd described in the previous verse had its intended effect. David’s soul was restored by the figurative green pastures and still waters the shepherd brought him to.

i. Restores may picture the rescue of a lost one. “It may picture the straying sheep brought back, as in Isaiah 49:5, or perhaps Psalm 60:1 (Hebrew 60:3), which use the same verb, whose intransitive sense is often ‘repent’ or ‘be converted’ (egHosea 14:1f.; Joel 2:12).” (Kidner)

ii. “In Hebrew the words ‘restores my soul’ can mean ‘brings me to repentance’ (or conversion).” (Boice)

iii. ” ‘He restoreth my soul.‘ He restores it to its original purity, that was now grown foul and black with sin; for also, what good were it to have ‘green‘ pastures and a black soul!” (Baker, cited in Spurgeon)

b. He leads me: The shepherd was a guide. The sheep didn’t need to know where the green pastures or still waters were; all he needed to know was where the shepherd was. The shepherd would guide the sheep to what he needed.

c.In the paths of righteousness: The leadership of the shepherd did not only comfort and restore the sheep; he also guides him into righteousness. God’s guidance of David had a moral aspect.

i. “They are thenceforth led in ‘the path of righteousness’; in the way of holy obedience. Obstructions are removed; they are strengthened, to walk and run in the paths of God’s commandments.” (Horne)

d. For His name’s sake: The shepherd guides the sheep with an overarching view to the credit and glory of the shepherd’s own name.

i. For His name’s sake: “To display the glory of his grace, and not on account of any merit in me. God’s motives of conduct towards the children of men are derived from the perfections and goodness of his own nature.” (Clarke)

2. (Psa 23:4) The gift of the Shepherd’s presence.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

a. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death: This is the first dark note in this beautiful Psalm. Previously David wrote of green pastures and still waters and paths of righteousness. Yet when following the LORD as shepherd, one may still walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

i. David used this powerful phrase to speak of some kind of dark, fearful experience. It is an imprecise phrase, yet its poetry makes perfect sense.

– It is a valley, not a mountaintop or broad meadow. A valley suggests being hedged in and surrounded.

– It is a valley of the shadow of death, facing what seemed to David as the ultimate defeat and evil.

– It is a valley of the shadow of death; not facing the substance of death itself, but the shadow of death, casting its dark, fearful outline across David’s path.

ii. Notably, David recognized that under the shepherd’s leading he may walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It isn’t his destination or dwelling place. Like the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, David might say that all of life is lived under the shadow of death, and it is the conscious presence of the LORD as shepherd that makes it bearable.

iii. This line is especially suggestive when we read this Psalm with an eye towards Jesus, the Great Shepherd. We understand that a shadow is not tangible, but is cast by something that is. One can rightly say that we face only the shadow of death because Jesus took the full reality of death in our place.

b. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death: This line from the Psalm – and the Psalm as a whole – has proven itself precious to many a dying saint through the ages. They have been comforted, strengthened, and warmed by the thought that the LORD would shepherd them through the valley of the shadow of death.

i. Near death, the saint still calmly walks – he does not need to quicken his pace in alarm or panic. Near death, the saint does not walk in the valley, but through the valley.

ii. “Death in its substance has been removed, and only the shadow of it remains. Some one has said that when there is a shadow there must be light somewhere, and so there is. Death stands by the side of the highway in which we have to travel, and the light of heaven shining upon him throws a shadow across our path; let us then rejoice that there is a light beyond. Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot stop a man’s pathway even for a moment. The shadow of a dog cannot bite; the shadow of a sword cannot kill; the shadow of death cannot destroy us.” (Spurgeon)

iii. “It has an inexpressibly delightful application to the dying; but it is for the living, too…The words are not in the future tense, and therefore are not reserved for a distant moment.” (Spurgeon)

c. I will fear no evil: Despite every dark association with the idea of the valley of the shadow of death, under the care of the LORD his shepherd, David could resolutely say this. Even in a fearful place, the presence of the shepherd banished the fear of evil.

i. We might say that the shepherd’s presence did not eliminate the presence of evil, but certainly the fear of evil.

d. For You are with me: This emphasizes that it is the presence of the shepherd that eliminated the fear of evil for His sheep. No matter his present environment, David could look to the fact of God’s shepherd-like presence and know, “You are with me” and “I will fear no evil.”

i. Significantly, it is at the dangerous moment pictured in the Psalm that the “He” of Psalm 23:1-3 changes to “You.” The LORD as Shepherd is now in the first person.

e. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me: The rod and the staff were instruments used by a shepherd. The idea is of a sturdy walking stick, used to gently (as possible) guide the sheep and to protect from potential predators.

i. There is some debate among commentators as to if David had the idea of two separate instruments (the rod and the staff), or one instrument used two ways. The Hebrew word for rod (shaybet) here seems to simply mean “a stick” with a variety of applications. The Hebrew word for staff (mishaynaw) seems to speak of “a support” in the sense of a walking stick.

ii. Kidner notes: “The rod (a cudgel worn at the belt) and staff (to walk with, and to round up the flock) were the shepherd’s weapon and implement: the former for defence (cf1 Samuel 17:35), and the latter for control – since discipline is security.”

iii. Maclaren writes: “The rod and the staff seem to be two names for one instrument, which was used both to beat off predatory animals and to direct the sheep.”

iv. This instrument (or instruments) of guidance was a comfort to David. It helped him – even in the valley of the shadow of death – to know that God guided him, even through correction. It is a great comfort to know that God will correct us when needed.

C. The LORD as Host.

1. (Psa 23:5) Blessing in the presence of danger.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

a. You prepare a table before me: Without departing from the previous picture of the valley of the shadow of death, David envisioned the provision and goodness given by the LORD as a host, inviting David to a rich table prepared for him.

i. “Here the second allegory begins. A magnificent banquet is provided by a most liberal and benevolent host; who has not only the bounty to feed me, but power to protect me; and, though surrounded by enemies, I sit down to this table with confidence, knowing that I shall feast in perfect security.” (Clarke)

ii. David gives a beautiful picture: table suggests bountyprepare suggests foresight and carebefore me suggests the personal connection.

b. In the presence of my enemies: This is a striking phrase. The goodness and care suggested by the prepared table is set right in the midst of the presence of my enemies. The host’s care and concern doesn’t eliminate the presence of my enemies, but enables the experience of God’s goodness and bounty even in their midst.

i. “This is the condition of God’s servant – always conflict, but always a spread table.” (Maclaren)

ii. “When a soldier is in the presence of his enemies, if he eats at all he snatches a hasty meal, and away he hastens to the fight. But observe: ‘Thou preparest a table,’ just as a servant does when she unfolds the damask cloth and displays the ornaments of the feast on an ordinary peaceful occasion. Nothing is hurried, there is no confusion, no disturbance, the enemy is at the door and yet God prepares a table, and the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were in perfect peace.” (Spurgeon)

c. You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over: Despite the dangers about and the presence of enemies, David enjoyed the richness of his host’s goodness. He was refreshed by a head anointed with oil; his cup was over-filled.

i. “Beloved, I will ask you now a question. How would it be with you if God had filled your cup in proportion to your faith? How much would you have had in your cup?” (Spurgeon)

ii. “Those that have this happiness must carry their cup upright, and see that it overflows into their poor brethren’s emptier vessels.” (Trapp)

2. (Psa 23:6) Blessing for the future.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Forever.

a. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: The host’s care brought the goodness and mercy of God to David, and he lived in the faithful expectation of it continuing all the days of his life.

i. “Mercy is the covenant-word rendered ‘steadfast love’ elsewhere…Together with goodness it suggests the steady kindness and support that one can count on in the family or between firm friends.” (Kidner)

ii. “We are well escorted, with a Shepherd in front and these twin angels behind!” (Meyer)

iii. “These twin guardian angels will always be with me at my back and my beck. Just as when great princes go abroad they must not go unattended, so it is with the believer.” (Spurgeon)

b. And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever: The Psalm ends with the calmest assurance that he would enjoy the presence of the LORD forever – both in his days on this earth and beyond.

i. “In the Old Testament world, to eat and drink at someone’s table created a bond of mutual loyalty, and could be the culminated token of a covenant…So to be God’s guest is to be more than a acquaintance, invited for a day. It is to live with Him.” (Kidner)

ii. “While I am here I will be a child at home with my God; the whole world shall be his house to me; and when I ascend into the upper chamber I shall not change my company, nor even change the house; I shall only go to dwell in the upper storey of the house of the Lord for ever.” (Spurgeon)

© 2011 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission

Source: Blue Letter Bible/ Commentary by David Guzik

“A Silence that Pours Love”, a poem from L.Willows

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A Silence that Pours Love

Dwelling, love swelling from silence that pours
sweetened so mellow, in the cavern’s surround.
Here in the mound that so softly receives.
Here in the curve of my heart in God found.

Misted, lifted, oh blessed by the dear gift,
carried by kindness, unspoken prayers heard.
Here is the home that turns all towards you.
Here is the beat of my heart in God’s word.

Stayed, assured; with rest in the calm.
Lullabies sing to my soul with Your psalms.
Comfort is dwelling, love swelling – it pours,
sweetened by the caverns’ mound silent surround
here in the curve of my heart, God found.

© 2018 Linda Willows

But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
Habakkuk 2:20

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone.
Psalm 62:5

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
Psalm 23:1-3