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Psalm 23:4 – Safety


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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” (Psalm 23:4)

When I was very young, my parents and I lived in Maine, a place connected on one side to the United States, on two sides with Canada and the rest of it fronts on the rugged Atlantic Ocean. My parents had given me a “Red Ryder” wagon for Christmas, which was, of course, fire-engine red in color. I took that wagon everywhere. At one point, I somehow broke off the metal handle that pulled and steered the wagon and my Dad replaced it with a rope, knotted at both ends.

At that time, the area of Portland, Maine, where we lived consisted of scattered homes within a checkerboard area of open fields. There was a hill near our home and one day I was standing with group of boys at the top of it. After a discussion, we decided to ride down that hill in my red wagon. I was in the front and my hands gripped that rope tightly. But as we started to roll, it became apparent the wagon could not be steered or controlled by that rope. We went faster and faster, and suddenly the front wheels swung to the right and over we went! We were all unceremoniously dumped and tumbled onto the asphalt and down that hilly street.

My elbow was bleeding and so was my knee. I’m sure they were minor scrapes, but to a three year old it seemed life threatening! I ran all the way home to my Mom, who comforted me. It’s interesting that I have no memory of what happened to the other little boys – or my beloved wagon, for that matter! And life is like that. We like our possessions, we like other people, but suddenly trouble comes and it’s hard to think about anything except getting help for ourselves! And I did get help. My mother took those wounds seriously, and soon I was properly bandaged and ready once more for the outdoors. She was my comforter and she was excellent in that role.

Recently, a group of us were leaving after completing the funeral service in a mortuary, and I was in a 20-mile motorcade to the cemetery where I was to conduct the graveside service. We were surrounded by police officers on motorcycles who waved us through stop signs and stop lights as we drove to the cemetery. The officers stopped other vehicles from proceeding through green lights so that we could continue through the red. I noticed how EFFECTIVE those police officers were in watching over us, and how SAFE they made me feel. I mentioned it during the graveside service and several onlookers nodded – they had felt safe, too.

Psalm 23 starts out with the comforting words that most of us know: “The Lord is my shepherd.” Mentioning the police officers at that service included a “thank You” to our Lord, for He often uses what we might call “sub-shepherds” like Moms or police officers in caring for us. Sheep, as you likely are aware, aren’t very intelligent and they are largely unable to care for themselves. To call us “sheep” is not very flattering, yet He gives abilities that enable us to really help one another. I was comforted by my Mother when I was little. I felt safe when those police officers were protecting us. You and I are safe because the Lord, our Great Shepherd, is watching over us right now.

The publication “Our Daily Bread,” was first introduced to me when I was in the hospital, a number of years ago. I had no money, no medical insurance, and wondered: how in the world can I pay the hospital bill? I had been in commission sales for years and every day in the hospital meant another day with no income. “What are You DOING?” was the question I often asked the Lord. One extra thing was bothering me: I’ve been a “reader” all my life and had nothing to read! There was no money for a magazine or book. I had a visitor - someone who had about the same money I did, which was essentially nothing. It was good to see them, and they brought me a “Daily Bread” to read. The first one I had seen. They said, “I found it in the hospital parking lot,” which was fine, and over the next few days, I devoured that “Daily Bread.” Here’s an article from a “Daily Bread” of a few years back:

The early American Indians had a unique practice of training young braves. On the night of a boy's thirteenth birthday, after learning hunting, scouting, and fishing skills, he was put to one final test. He was placed in a dense forest to spend the entire night alone. Until then, he had never been away from the security of the family and the tribe. But on this night, he was blindfolded and taken several miles away. When he took off the blindfold, he was in the middle of a thick woods and he was terrified! Every time a twig snapped, he visualized a wild animal ready to pounce. After what seemed like an eternity, dawn broke and the first rays of sunlight entered the interior of the forest. Looking around, the boy saw flowers, trees, and the outline of the path. Then, to his utter astonishment, he beheld the figure of a man standing just a few feet away, armed with a bow and arrow. It was his father. He had been there all night long.

The whole of Psalm 23 is a promise that the Lord, your Father, is with You. He is there right now, even though you can’t “see” Him at the moment. The Psalm is also a promise that the Lord, in His own interesting way, will provide all of your needs. A few years ago, after a personal struggle, I followed the Lord and left my employment. It had become too much to do full-time ministry and also have a job. One year later, my wife left her very good job for the same reason – full-time ministry doesn’t allow for much else. And He has CARED for our every need!

The Lord has been teaching us for many years that “Where God guides, God provides,” and I am sure that most of us are being taught the same lesson, in one form or another. He wants to care for us, He is capable of caring for us, He loves us, and He WILL bring us through. The part we often don’t appreciate is that we have to lack something before realizing how much we need Him. If you have a lot of money and someone hands you ten dollars, it means nothing; but if you have nothing and you are given ten dollars, it’s a lot! And you are grateful for what He sends.

Sometimes life is like walking “through the valley of the shadow of death.” In such a place we all fear initially, but we learn to “fear no evil;” for God is with us. “His rod and staff” are indeed sufficient (Psalm 23:4). He’s even more effective than Moms, police officers and the father of that boy in the wilderness. He is God and He loves you.

Father, help us. Thank You for showing us our need. Thank You for being our Shepherd. Thank You for Your comfort, provision and love. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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