The picture I have to-day at the beginning of a new week is of God being our Shepherd.
“Yes Ian, I am your Shepherd – I use that picture, that analogy because all my children were like sheep that had gone astray and I have rounded you up into my fold – under My protection. My focus for you today is ‘restoration’ I seek to restore you as the week unfolds – I seek to pick up all the loose threads and insecurities in your life and put you together again to make you ‘whole’, to make you ‘complete’. I will lead you then ‘beside still waters’ of rest and even when the path becomes difficult and dark I will be there leading and protecting you all the way, keeping you together – as we head to the ultimate ‘banquet’ where we will experience ‘full-front’ fellowship. So feel my arms around you and simply follow Me as I lead the way, putting your full trust in Me.”
Today my reading is Psalm 6. I think the key word in this psalm is in v 4. The Hebrew word ‘Chesed’, translated as ‘steadfast’ or ‘unfailing love’, it is a reminder of God’s covenant promise in Exodus 34:5 -7 where God confirmed the conditions of His covenant promises. We see in this Psalm how David is overcome with pain and grief (many commentators believe it had to do with his affair with Bathsheba and the consequences that followed, including his enemies who were mocking him). So against the back drop of his distress David first calls on God to stop chastising him, as he seems to see God being behind his troubles. Then in his great distress he cries out the often repeated call in the Psalms and by many, many Christians, over the centuries – “how long oh Lord, how long?” Voicing a desire for relief which just doesn’t seem to be coming.
Then David reminds himself of God’s covenant love (v 4) and calls out to God on the basis of that, which embodies all God’s goodness and promise of protection for His people. Even as the mourning and weeping dies down, he gathers himself and affirms his faith and trust in the Lord – vs 9 with the words “The lord has heard my plea, the Lord accepts my prayer” and so he voices his expectation of a positive outcome.
So as I reflect what Jesus has said to me, I am firstly reminded that we have an even deeper relationship with God under the new covenant through Jesus who died to make that promise of God’s love for us a reality. So on the basis of that and looking at David’s words here, we have every reason to believe that God will answer our prayers with a positive outcome, which nevertheless may not be what we may expect, no matter how sad and serious our situation may seem. Two questions arise, do I blame God for my troubles, seeing them as part of His hand in chastising or disciplining me? What would be the purpose of that? To grow my faith and trust? And secondly it reminds me again that in many respects God often does seem to hold back His answers and His solutions, probably for the same reason. The comforting assurance behind all this is that we have this covenant relationship with our God and Father through Jesus the Son and we can have full confidence in God hearing and responding, in His time and nothing that ever happens to us is allowed out of evil intent as we are fully covered by God’s infinite love and grace.