In 2 Kings 6, the prophet Elisha had been warning the King of Israel of his enemy's plans which had been revealed to him by God. The King of Syria (his enemy) was pretty upset about this and sent his soldiers to deal with Elisha. Verse 14 says he sent horses, chariots and a large army which seems overkill to capture one man. They surrounded the city where he was living. 2 Kings 6:15-17 says,
Early the next morning Elisha's servant got up, went out of the house, and saw the Syrian troops with their horses and chariots surrounding the town. He went back to Elisha and exclaimed, “We are doomed, sir! What shall we do?”
“Don't be afraid,” Elisha answered. “We have more on our side than they have on theirs.” Then he prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord answered his prayer, and Elisha's servant looked up and saw the hillside covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
The short version of the rest of the story is that Elisha prayed that God would make the men blind (which he did). Then in true Star Wars fashion he told them, 'You are on the wrong road; this is not the town you are looking for' (watch Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, if you don't know what I'm talking about). He led them into the city and asked God to open their eyes. Instead of killing them, they gave them something to eat and sent them back to the King of Syria. They stopped trying to invade Israel after that.
God reminded me of this story while I was on my morning walk on Boxing Day. Life can seem overwhelming when we look at it through our human eyes. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic, people get sick, some are unkind, many struggle with mental health concerns and other bad stuff happens on a daily basis. It's easy to be overwhelmed and lose hope. But Elisha prayed that God would open his spiritual eyes then he was able to see that even though they were surrounded by a hostile army, God's army was greater. 1 John 4:4 says, God’s Spirit, who is in you, is greater than the devil, who is in the world.
Despite all the bad things that are happening in the world, God is still good. He is working, even if we can't always see it. I pray that God would open your spiritual eyes and you would see how God is working in your life and in the world.
1 Thessalonians 5:16 is only three words long and in some versions it''s only two words—'rejoice always.' This doesn't mean that we should strive to be happy all the time. It means that we are joyful because of what God has done for us (sent his son, Jesus) and because of the hope that we have in him (eternal life with God). No matter whether you find yourself in a good time, or a bad one, you can be rejoice and be joyful. The word rejoice is mentioned 154 times in the Bible. Many of them are in the book of Psalms.
O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.
King David often pleaded to God for help with his troubles but usually ended by praising God because of his goodness. Not because God fixed his problems, but because he was good despite them. God helps us through our troubles. He has also given us hope because we will spend eternity with him where there will be no earthly troubles. That's something to rejoice about!
Psalm 23:6 says, Surely your goodness and love will be with me all my life. And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
The first five verses of Psalm 23 are about the goodness of God.
1 - God gives us everything we need
2 - God gives us rest and peace
3 - God gives us strength and leads us on the right path
4 - God is with us in difficult times and comforts us
5 - God blessed us with more than enough
Verse six emphasises this by saying that God’s goodness and love will be with us all our lives. David reminds us that we will live in his house for eternity. He mentions traveling through a dark valley and enemies in this Psalm, indicating that there will be difficult times in our lives. But no matter what difficulties we face, it’s not worth comparing to the great joy we will experience in eternity with God. Romans 8:18 says, We have sufferings now. But the sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be given to us.
So, in a nutshell, God is good, even when life is not. Eternity with God will be worth the pain.
Let's break this down into three parts. You prepare a meal for me in front of my enemies. God is our provider, even in times of trouble or hardship. God doesn't necessarily take the threat or hardship from us but provides for us while we're in the middle of it.
You pour oil of blessing on my head. In Old Testament times a host sometimes anointed the heads of his guests with oil as a mark of respect. This would have been like a perfume or ointment. Not only does God provide for our needs, but he blesses us with other good things too.
You give me more than I can hold. He isn't the God of just enough, he is the God of more than enough. A life following Jesus is full of peace, love, joy and hope despite our troubles. As Jesus said in John 10:10, But I came to give life - life that is full and good.
Psalm 23:4 says, Even if I walk through a valley as dark as the grave, I will not be afraid of any danger, because you are with me. Your rod and staff comfort me. Some versions say "the valley of the shadow of death." This is a stark contrast to the green pastures and calm waters that he was talking about in verse three. It's important to remember that this is poetry, so the valley of the shadow of death is not literal, but metaphorical. Even though I walk through dark and difficult circumstances, I won't be afraid because God is with me.
Even though I am struggling with my studies, I won't be afraid because God is with me.
Even though my parents are separating, I won't be afraid because God is with me.
Even though my aunt is sick, I won't be afraid because God is with me.
Even though my best friend is ignoring me, I won't be afraid because God is with me.
Even though I have to do a presentation in class, I won't be afraid because God is with me.
Even though I am starting at a new school, I won't be afraid because God is with me.
Even though I am struggling with depression and anxiety, I won't be afraid because God is with me.
You get the idea.
The shepherd's rod and staff were used to guide and protect the sheep. Some Bible commentaries suggest that they represent the Word of God and the Holy Spirit which makes perfect sense to me. The Bible and the Holy Spirit guide me. They help me not to fall into sin. When you find yourself walking through difficult circumstances, press into God. Spend time reading the Bible and praying. Don't be afraid because he is with you.
The Pulpit Commentary explains that 'renews my strength' or 'restores my soul' (as some versions read), means God revives your soul and reinvigorates it when it is exhausted and weary. I don't know about you, but sometimes my soul gets exhausted and weary. I find that going to church, singing songs of worship, reading my Bible and spending time in prayer revives my soul and give me new strength. I like to think of these things as paths of righteousness or paths that are right. Some versions read, "for His name's sake," which can be confusing. I like how the Living Bible puts it, He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honours him the most. He strengthens us and leads us into paths that are right so that his name will be honoured and glorified.
So here's my takeaway from verse three: God revives and renews my soul when it is weary. He calls me to pray, worship and soak in his Word so that I will make good choices and so that His name will be glorified.
Continuing the imagery of God as the Good Shepherd, the green grass and water spoken of here would be for the sheep. The shepherd's role was to find food and water for his flock. Not only does God give us food, he gives us good food. He is the same God that created mangoes, wheat for bread and cocoa beans.
God isn't a stingy God. When Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast, he didn't just turn it into average wine - it was the best wine they had ever tasted. When God led the Israelites out of Egypt he promised to give them "a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3).
This verse also tells us that God not only feeds our bodies but he feeds our souls. When I read this verse I picture a verdant green field with some shady trees by a still, clear stream under a blue sky. I don't know about you but there is something extremely soothing about being by the water, whether it is the beach or a river or stream. Scientists have proven that being in nature improves your mental health. God designed us to enjoy his creation. If you're feeling stressed or anxious - get outside, sit under a tree or walk by the water if you're near the beach or a river.
Psalm 23 is one of the most famous passages of scripture, but do we really think about or understand what it means? We're going to dig a bit deeper and have a closer look at this Psalm over the next few weeks.
Psalm 23 was written by King David. Before he became the King, David had been a shepherd. This was not a job for the faint-hearted. In 1 Samuel 17:34-35 David was talking to King Saul before he fought Goliath and said, I take care of my father’s sheep. And when one of them is dragged off by a lion or a bear, I go after it and beat the wild animal until it lets the sheep go. If the wild animal turns and attacks me, I grab it by the throat and kill it.
Shepherds provide their sheep with shelter, food, water and protection. God is our shepherd, he looks after our needs and protects us. I love the imagery of the Holy God, creator of the universe, as a humble shepherd, caring for a herd of smelly sheep.
Here are some other verses about God being our shepherd:
1. God knows each of us intimately and loves us deeply.
2. Not only does God provide for our needs and protects us, he offers us salvation and eternal life - he really is the good shepherd.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.