Home again

“I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever”
(Psalm 23:6)

This is a wonderful ending to a glorious and special psalm.

The Shepherd who leads us and looks after us has a particular end in view all the time. He is leading us home, to the place where God dwells. As we look back at the psalm through the eyes of the Gospels we can understand more fully that this is the place to which we really belong. It is ‘My Father’s house’ Jesus tells us where He has gone to prepare a place for us.

It is here that there will be ‘no more death or mourning or crying or pain’ for we will live in the eternal presence of our great and glorious God. There will be the beauty of Life, the wonder of Love and the glory of Light beyond our wildest imaginations and hopes. And for the very first time in our lives we will be perfectly and beautifully complete in every possible way. Indeed

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”
(1 Corinthians 2:9)

As we look back on our journey from its glorious fulfilment we will discover a wonderful and marvellous truth. No matter what it seemed to us at the time, every part of the journey has been a part of the revelation of the love, life and grace of God. It has all been woven into the beautiful tapestry of our lives – as He has worked in all things to the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

Make the most of the journey – and never lose sight of the end


Good Shepherd lead me onward through this life and bring me safely home – to the sparkling joy and heart-stopping completeness that awaits me in the eternal life and love of God. Amen.



Abundant Love

“My cup overflows”
(Psalm 23:5)


The cup from which we drink in our everyday lives is bitter-sweet. There is pain and disappointment and the pleasures though many are fleeting.

David however had seen his life touched by God in numerous and different ways. He was humbled and overwhelmed by the love, personal involvement and privilege – as well as by the glory, majesty and power that was revealed. In need God was more than sufficient, in sin God’s forgiveness was absolute and complete, in blessing God’s provision was abundant.

Where the world in which we live is temporary and imperfect, and has nothing better to offer, God is different. He is eternal, sovereign and loving and relates to us accordingly. Even where He involves Himself in our worldly lives and affairs His actions carry with them the mark of eternal significance for they reveal His glorious presence and engaging love. His is the one life and love that meets us here and carries us into His eternity. It is a love and life that does not diminish but grows. The world may distract us from it but cannot take it away.

In the Old Testament to eat and drink at someone’s table created a bond of mutual loyalty. This was especially true in the case of a covenant – and is one of the hallmarks of God’s covenants with His people. We see it again in the Last Supper where, after eating, Jesus passes the cup to the disciples with the words “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (1 Corinthians 11:25) As we accept Him our lives are opened to the realty, presence and commitment of the Lord Jesus to us – as Lord, Saviour and Friend.

The deeper and stronger our relationship with Him the more His blessings can be identified and enjoyed. The closer we draw to Him the more that we see that He is our all in all.  And the God who is “I AM WHO I AM” reveals Himself to each one as the God whom we need in our particular lives and situations.

Pause to identify God’s revelation of Himself in creation and in your own life.


Father open my eyes to Your glory and love more and more each day. Help me to treasure, accept and enjoy the wonder of Your revelations to me. Amen.


My Shadow

“Surely goodness and love
will follow me all the days of my life”
(Psalm 23:6)


There are two lovely points to bear in mind here.

Firstly, as we follow Jesus and allow Him to care for us, the beauty and love of the Lord will come after us. They will seek to enter into us and transform our lives through our thoughts, words and deeds. We know this because we are intended to be in the image of God. We are called to be holy as He is holy, filled with the Light of His Life and Love.

Secondly, beauty and love will be our shadows. These are the realities that we will leave behind us as we pass through life and people’s lives and situations. The fruit of the Holy Spirit will appear in and upon our lives. Like all fruit it is an indication of the loveliness of the fruit tree itself. However the fruit is borne not for the benefit of the tree but for those around it.

In our relationship with our Lord we are intended to receive His beauty and love, become beautiful and lovely of spirit, and pass it on to those around us.

Don’t share the world – share the Lord


Lord God help me to seek and to embrace Your loveliness and share it with others through my life and living. Amen.




“You anoint my head with oil”
(Psalm 23:5)


Oil was used to anoint people for a number of reasons. It was, and still is, used in healing ministries. James teaches

“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:14)

Isaiah prophesied that one of the ministries of the Messiah would be

 “to bestow on them … the oil of gladness instead of mourning” (Isaiah 61:3)

Samuel was instructed to anoint David as the next King of Israel

“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power” (1 Samuel 16:13)

In all instances it is seen as a sign of blessing – whether of healing, favour or honour. In the psalm it would have elements of each one. The Shepherd checking the health of His sheep would look to heal them wherever there was a need. In terms of relationship God looks with favour on His children and wishes to bless them with His love and His joy. In terms of ministry God blesses and anoints us for the tasks to which He has raised us and gifted us. David knows he has been greatly blessed in his life and likens it to God having anointed His head with the oil of favour, healing and honour.

In all cases it is ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.’ God as our Father, Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and Guide, wish to bless us – not only where we have a need but from the depths of their love as well.

Ask for and look to identify His blessings.


Lord God You have blessed me and do bless me. Please help me to be aware of these blessings and to treasure them as David did. Amen.



All I Need

“You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.”
(Psalm 23:5)


Our enemies drain us. Whether they involve people, emotions, fears, bad habits or sins they can leave us feeling parched and weary. They may also produce feelings of guilt in us that make us feel inadequate and separated from God, others and ourselves.

God, on the other hand, seeks to feed us. This is not only physically but mentally, spiritually and emotionally as well. He feeds us with His Word in Scripture, with His Holy Spirit witnessing to our spirit and with His love revealed in Jesus and poured into our hearts by the Spirit.

Even when things appear to be dark He is with us. The food, forgiveness and fellowship are available if we will see it. It is like a table laid with provisions from which we can choose what we need. It is not only the bare necessities that are available but other foods of encouragement and love that lift us in unexpected ways.

The feast available to us within the pages of the Bible, in the outpouring of our hearts in prayer and in the quiet listening in His presence, is unlimited. It is without limit because God’s love and commitment know no limit.

It is only through trusting and trying that we find the blessing.


Lord help me to look for and to find Your provision when I need it – and help me to store up Your riches in between. Amen.





Weapons of Life


“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
 I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
(Psalm 23:4)


At all stages of our journey, whether in the quiet fields, the toilsome paths or the fearsome valleys, the Shepherd is with us. In human terms he is armed with his rod and his staff. The rod of protection with which he drives off the enemy and the staff of comfort with which he draws us to himself, lifts us out of holes and  guides us forward. Our Saviour is with us always. His great promise to His followers was and is

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Always and everywhere He is with us also in His Word and in His Spirit. His Word is “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) It guides us, feeds us, instructs us, encourages us, strengthens us and warns us. The Holy Spirit is ‘another Comforter’ who has taken His place within each and every believer. He too is our guide and our strength, the One who equips and empowers us, pours God’s love into our hearts and witnesses to our new and eternal relationship with God as His sons and His daughters.

There is no enemy that can stand against the Word and the Spirit of God. There is no situation, danger or sickness – not even death itself – that can withstand the Word and the Spirit of God. He is willing and able to guide and keep us every step of the way. No one and nothing can ‘pluck us out of His hand’ and nothing in all creation can ‘separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

And when we face the reality of death itself, and find that all human aid and presence has to leave us, still He is there to journey with us. We will never be alone again.

Feed on the Word – because it is God’s Word – pray and look to the Holy Spirit at all times


Lord help me to have a deeper relationship with You through both the Bible and the Holy Spirit, and to walk faithfully and trustingly in Your ways. Amen.


My Light in the Darkness

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me”
(Psalm 23:4)

‘The valley of the shadow of death’ initially reminds us of the approaching end to our earthly lives. However it can also refer to periods when life, or certain aspects of our lives, appears to be falling apart. At such times it may seem as if we are struggling alone through a barren and comfortless world, where everyone is a potential enemy or source of mockery. We may hear only the forsaken howling of our inner fears and shame – or the mind-numbing bondage of pain.

David himself would have known such moments when Saul was looking for him to kill him. He spent time fleeing through desolate areas in fear for his life. He would have experienced them too when he got things horribly wrong and faced the Lord’s displeasure. Through them all though the Lord was with him and never abandoned him. Whether innocent or guilty he knew that he belonged to the Lord.

‘You are with me.’ God does not forsake us. We might wander away from Him and His ways but that does not mean that He has rejected us. On the contrary as the Good Shepherd He is even then seeking us in our lost-ness, desiring to recover the relationship and lead us safely home. The world may despise and reject, we may agonise and mourn, but God loves and saves. The Good Shepherd who leads is also the One who walks alongside us on the journey. He is with us always.

“The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.”
(Psalm 118:14)

 And, when we come out of the valley of suffering, we may well find that we are closer to God and to His blessed Light than ever we were before. He who works in all things for the good of those who love Him will have been working there as well.

When it is dark look for the Light, Ask Him for forgiveness, comfort, strength and encouragement.


Lord I can feel very lonely, lost and little. Please find me in my valley, embrace me with Your Light, Love and Life and lead me safely onward. Amen.



Don’t follow the sheep

“He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake”
(Psalm 23:3)

Sheep are believed to have no sense of direction. Left alone they easily become lost, wandering off in all directions to where they could be hurt or killed. One of Jesus’ best known stories is the parable of the lost sheep – and the shepherd who seeks for it until he finds it and brings it safely home again. In calling Himself the Good Shepherd He also refers to us as His sheep, indicating that we too are inclined to wander thoughtlessly away!

As the sheep in Palestine knew their shepherd’s voice and followed him so we are called to come to the Lord and to follow Him. He alone knows the right paths for us – both generally and in every situation in which we might find ourselves. And He is always there to lead us forward. Because we follow Him it means that He will have travelled these paths ahead of us. He will know the challenges, the resting places and the destinations along the way.

Jesus know the correct way forward for us. He also knows the right way for us to travel that road. As we go with Him we discover that He is both the Way in terms of direction, and the Way in terms of the attitudes, values and strengths that are needed for the journey.

One of HIs great calls was for the weary to come to Him and take His yoke upon themselves. In this way, joined to Him, He would set the pace and direction and shoulder the greater share of the load.

Ask Him for help – and stay close to Him through the day!


It’s me Lord! I feel lost, lonely and afraid. Please find me and rescue me. Please forgive me and cleanse me. Please lead me forward from where and how I am to where and how You want me to be. Amen.


My Secret Garden

“The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul”
(Psalm 23:1-3)

The sheep depend upon the shepherd for what they need. His responsibility is to find, and then lead them to, the right places. There they will find good food, cool waters and a place to rest in peace. Green pastures – in which to lie down on the soft grass after chewing at the tender shoots. Quiet waters – not rushing torrents, for sheep are afraid of them and will not drink. The picture David paints is very peaceful and attractive.

Clearly David is not thinking only of food and water for his body. He has in mind a place where he may find rest and peace with his Shepherd. A place where he may be cleansed, refreshed and restored in body, mind and spirit. And this is what we all need amidst the hustle and bustle, the trials and turmoil, the fears and failing of our world. It is a place not only for the faithful flock, but also for those who have strayed off by themselves and ended up lost and desolate. The Shepherd will find them and bring them back, restoring them to health and to fellowship.

David found this out for himself after the sin arising from his relationship with Bathsheba. He came back to the Lord crying out for forgiveness and healing – and the Lord did just that.

  • “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice” (Psalm 51:7-8)

There will be periods in all our lives when the things of the world are not enough.  Food and drink and other resources will bring no satisfaction or relief. We will need something far deeper and longer lasting. Jesus points us towards the need for such an inner place of rest and refreshment with Him.

  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)
  • “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14)

The ‘secret gardens’ of green pastures that we need are not in the mountains, on lonely beaches or in quiet chapels – although they may help. These are quiet places God is planting deep within us. It is here that the Lord chooses to meet with us personally and effectively.  This is what God has in mind when He tells us,

  • “Be still, and know that I am God”  (Psalm 46:10)

Set aside a regular time for quiet reflection with God – where He can minister to you,


Lord I need Your presence and ministry in the depths of my being. Help me to open myself to You and to be still before You whilst You are at work. Amen.


My Life-Coach

“The LORD is my shepherd”
(Psalm 23:1)

David starts this greatest of his psalms with the words ‘the Lord.” He is making it quite clear that its focus is the Lord God Almighty. By then immediately using the word “my” he indicates that he is in a committed relationship with the Lord – in which the Lord has the power and authority.

The next word is surprising. For where God has been called King and Deliverer, Rock and Shield, in the Psalms they are distant or impersonal titles. To refer to God as ‘my Shepherd’ is to immediately conjure up a picture of someone far closer and well-known. A shepherd lives with his flock at all times and in all conditions. He is their guide, physician, protector and provider. Where  a shepherd takes his responsibilities seriously there will be a close relationship of care and concern with the sheep. He will know them closely and individually. They will also know him and be able to recognise his voice.

David would have known this only too well from the years that he had spent shepherding his father’s sheep – when in addition to his normal duties he ‘killed both the lion and the bear’ to protect the flock. An early reference to the Lord as Shepherd comes from another shepherd – the third of the Patriarchs called Jacob. He had spent years looking after his father-in-law’s flocks in earning the right to marry his daughter Rachel. Shortly before he died, as he blessed his son Joseph, he referred to the Almighty as ‘the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day’ (Genesis 48:15) and as ‘the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel .. your father’s God.’ (Genesis 49:24-25)

David’s use of the expression is given an added significance when we remember that God was to refer to Himself as the Shepherd of His people through the prophets. And then Jesus completed the picture in calling Himself the Good Shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”
(John 10:11)

Shepherds who called God ‘shepherd’ knew what they were talking about – because they could relate the way in which God cared for them to the ways in which they were called to care for their sheep. They also knew that sheep needed a shepherd – and why!

Lord I need a Shepherd – I need You – to know me intimately, guide me lovingly, heal me and strengthen me, and be with me always.


Lord Jesus You are my Good Shepherd. Please help me to come to You, follow You, stay close to You and learn to recognise Your voice when You speak to me. Amen.