The Life Journey of Worship
The Divine Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
Worship done in spirit and in truth moves us.
David worshipped in the field for most of his life. If you follow the account of 1 Samuel you will see that, for the first half of his adult life, he was hunted by King Saul and forced to live in the wilderness and in foreign countries. He had less access to the temple than most of the people of Israel. Yet this did not prevent him from sharing his own worship in ways that would influence the people of God for over 3000 years.
Psalm 23 is an excellent example of this field worship. This is David’s story that can become our own story as well. YHWH is my shepherd, he writes. He knows this metaphor well from his own days as a shepherd. Because he knows what it takes to be good shepherd and because he knows God so well, he knows he will be provided for… he shall not be in want. The first step of any journey is preparing provision and David found all the provision he needed for his journey in God.
David then describes how God brings that provision. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. Note the directness of that verb. God does not set up a buffet of food options and let us choose. He takes us to the food and makes us stop to eat. The water God leads him, and us to, is not wild rushing water, but smaller springs that we will not drown in. It is there we are provided for and our souls are restored.
Having established the preparation and provision for the journey, David pulls out the map and notes the path we are taking. He leads me in paths of righteousness… Why? For His name’s sake. What does that mean? It means that where we are going and especially how we get there matters. What happens on our journey is going to affect more than just ourselves. We make this journey as a witness of Who God is, not just who we are or hope to become.
Where do these paths of righteousness lead us? Not always to the high mountaintop experiences and comfortable surroundings. These paths of righteousness will also lead us into the valley of the shadow of death itself. That’s right. The path of light and life leads through places of darkness and death. Normally, that would be enough to turn us all away, but then David reminds us (The LORD is my shepherd) so I will fear no evil. The same rod and staff that keep me on the path and in line, are used to protect me from any enemy that would come my way.
But it doesn’t stop there. Our good shepherd leads us straight through the valley of the shadow of death into the the heart of our enemy’s land, and there He proceeds to throw a party. He not only invites but surrounds us by our enemies, and there, in their presence, He anoints our head with oil showing the love He has for us. It is there, in the belly of the beast, not in the green pastures, that David proclaims, “My cup overflows!”
If God can bring blessing in the darkest of places like that, as we faithfully follow Him along the path He leads us, what do we have to fear? How can we doubt that His goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life? Perhaps it is only in making this journey with God that we come to realize that to dwell in God’s house is not just to be in a place of peace, joy, and love, but to realize that place is wherever we can be with Him.
Does your worship take you along this journey?
Can you take your worship on the road, out into the field, and follow God to wherever your worship of Him will lead you?