Psalm 23:6 ESV
There is more in Psalm 23 than comfort for our personal pain, however desperate that is. David’s song points to the source of power to go beyond ourselves, to live and walk ‘in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake’, just as Jesus went beyond himself, to live a life and to die a death that were, in every respect, for his Father’s glory but for our sake.
There is something that helps us towards a better fulfillment of those two commandments (Mark 12:28-31) that Jesus said were the greatest and in which reside the best purpose of our lives, at least in this present world.
David knew that the LORD, his shepherd, was not his exclusively.
He knew that, as God’s anointed shepherd/king for Judah he could find no better template for his own role than the goodness and mercy of God who followed him through all his days. In the same way, we may think of what it means for others that we have such a shepherd; one who cares for us all the days of our life and in whom we have the power to live out those two commandments, bringing glory to God and blessing to others.
Remember Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost? The Holy Spirit had come, wonderfully, to Jesus’ disciples as he promised and Peter said, “This is that….the promise of God is fulfilled.”
But the promise fulfilled that day was more than a promise of personal blessing, more than a personal mystic experience. Luke makes it clear that the coming in power of the Spirit of God upon his people is primarily for the equipping and enabling of the church to be witnesses to Jesus in the world; to glorify God in the world.
And while staying with them (Jesus) ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…. you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8 ESV
Jesus had indicated the same thing even before this; when he spoke to his disciples about the gift of the Spirit, he made his comments in the context of this same commission.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21-22 ESV
So where does this take us as Jesus’ disciples today?
Well, the Spirit whom we have received is that same Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God, glorifying Jesus in us and through us in one another and in the world, and whether the Spirit is ministering to us or through us that is Jesus’ ministry, our good shepherd’s ministry continuing to and through us, and so to his other sheep as well.
In Christ, in Jesus the anointed One, in the power of his spirit, we are sent into the world as he came into the world, to love as he loved and to serve as he served because, by his spirit, Jesus loves and serves, Jesus still goes daily into the world in his body, in his church.
Jesus ministers through us and his ministry, even through us, still takes, amongst its infinite variety of expressions, the form of his ministry to David in Psalm 23.