“I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. “ Psalm 34:1
Psalm 23 is very familiar to everyone, but recently the Lord has shown me some new, very interesting points in it from the perspective of praise. Praise in and for all things is really the act of surrendering to the Lord at that moment and in that situation. In addition, it is resisting the devil and his suggestion that “this situation is just awful! Poor me!”
Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my shepherd.” That means He is watching over me all the time, with great care and attention, holding at a distance what is truly bad.
He “makes me lie down in green pastures.” That is, He finds for me the situations which are profitable for growth and brings me there. He doesn’t ask if I like it, nor does He ask my opinion. He MAKES me lie down there until I’ve learned what is needed. In this I can cooperate with Him by praising Him for what He is doing whether I like it or not.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death….” This refers not just to physical danger and death, but to other aspects, such as dying to self, to ego, to my plans and desires and opinions. This can mean having my plans fail, my vision perish, my hopes dashed.
“I will fear no evil for you are with me…” The difficult happenings in this “valley” are not evil but are allowed by God for my good—being all-powerful He could easily prevent them, especially since He is with me all the time, but He allows what He knows is useful for my growth and for my giving Him glory.
Thinking through this Psalm in terms of praise has brought great joy to me and removed some of my natural thought patterns (the tendency to resent what is hard, to complain, to fear being hurt or rejected)–patterns which make it difficult to praise in and for all things.
Take a look at the rest of Psalm 23 from this perspective and see what things you can find to encourage you to praise Him in and for all.
Prayer: “Lord, keep opening my eyes to your view of things; speak to me through your Word as I read it daily; move me forward in the discipline of praise. Amen.”
Picture: a portrait a friend/discipline of ours did from a picture. If you’d like him to do one for you (you, or your children or grandchildren), let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org