There is such a thing as a stubborn assertion of faith, against all odds and circumstances. There is such a thing as asserting yourself against yourself – against the doubts in your head. And there is such a thing as asserting your faith against what we ordinarily call “reality”. Faith asserts reality is changeable and interchangeable. That it is nothing but a set of temporary facts. We find such assertion of faith in the immortal words of David in that famous psalm, The Shepherd’s Psalm.
We can almost hear the emphasis against doubt, against circumstances, in those dateless words: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” These are the words of a man fighting reality. These are words of faith. Reminded of the vast emptiness of life by the cold expanse of the desert, the hardy rock-strewn barren landscape in the backside of Palestine… and the fears assaulting his imagination… David positively asserts, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want! In that phrase, we see a young man concerned about what direction to take in life; and we see a young man concerned he may remain poor for life.
The first line of Psalm 23 is the heart rendition of a young man who abhors poverty, and lack, and want. It is also the heart cry of a young man seeking direction in life, searching for meaning, and a sense of purpose. It is a jeremiad, close in semblance to the heart cry of Prophet Jeremiah a few centuries down the path of history. Jeremiah cried unto God: “I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.” Jeremiah 10:23.
If you’ve ever felt lost about life you can identify with the utterances of David and the cry of Jeremiah. You ought to shout to yourself and at your doubts, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want! And so from the opening line of Psalm 23, we see that there were two primary concerns in the life of young David: He didn’t want to be poor, and he needed direction in life. And so he turned to his faith in God. He turned to the One who was the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. He turned to the One who made the world and all that is in it. Surely such a One must know the way through life.
Perhaps this morning you don’t know where to turn, and you’re not sure about the future. Perhaps fear is plaguing your heart, and your doubt about the viability of your tomorrow is taking its toll. Like David, you must say to yourself, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want! You must keep saying it until it becomes a fact inside of you: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want! You must assert yourself against the nasty voice of doubt assaulting your heart. Fear is a projection of adverse realism. Doubt is the casting of suspicion on positive facts. And we see David in Psalm 23 make assertions against his doubts, against his fears about tomorrow.
Then he follows up with corroborative evidence, to assert his faith. He begins to itemize past facts of the kindness of God – things he’d experienced, to corroborate his faith in God. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he wrote. He leads me beside the still waters. Ongoing.
In the same vein, when doubt assuages our heart, we must back our faith with narrations of God’s mercy. We must talk about what God is doing for us, now! Just like David. It is corroborative evidence of faith. Bring yourself into remembrances of the goodness of God. What has God done for you lately? Bring your ebenezers to bear witness of faith, for hitherto has God helped you. Life is a journey. How far we have gone is how far God has helped us.
And so David talks of the Lord leading him beside the still and restful waters, restoring his soul. Contrary to our belief that the saints of old were perfect men of faith, David shows he was not impervious to doubt. He admits he was sometimes afraid, sometimes perturbed; he suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. If he didn’t suffer from anxiety and panic attacks why would God need to restore his soul? Faith is not the absence of fears and doubts. It is the assault of the word of God on fears and doubts. If you are going through emotional trauma, experiencing fear and anxiety, may God restore your soul. If you suffer from panic attacks, are afraid of what may happen, may God restore your soul.
The restoration of souls is provisioned for in the atonement. For concerning the Messiah, Prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 53:4,5: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; the chastisement of our peace was upon him.” And Jesus the Shepherd, of whom David testified in Psalm 23 spoke and said, “My peace I leave with you. Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John14:27).
David continued: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.” He kept fortifying his faith with instances of God’s love. We must keep corroborating our faith with the facts of God’s goodness, until doubt and fear recede. The Good Shepherd guides us along the paths of life. We are the sheep of his pasture. It is he who made us, and we are his people. (Psalm 100:3)“My sheep hear my voice,” Jesus said. “And I know them, and they follow me”.
Jesus is speaking this morning. If you hear his voice, do not harden your heart. If you’ll like to follow Jesus please pray this prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus Christ died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Please forgive me. I accept him today as my Lord and my Saviour. And I receive your grace that will direct me in life and provide for me. Amen!
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org