Psalm 23: The Blessings of God’s Presence

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

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.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

Still Standing – A Study of a Roadside Tree #12 | Outside Elgin, TX | January 2023

Our son answered the doorbell one afternoon to the delightful surprise of seeing Diane’s mom and dad on our stoop. They had just completed a 7 hour road trip from Missouri to Arkansas, where we lived at the time. We must not have told our kids that they were coming to visit, and Tim (maybe 9 or 10 years old at the time) said, “What are you doing here?” He didn’t mean it in any unkind way. We all loved having them visit. They were a source of joy and blessing whenever they came. From help in the kitchen to furniture refinishing and repainting bedrooms, they brought a cheerful and willing-to-help attitude. But Tim’s was a bit of an unusual greeting.

David describes the blessings of God in the context of a close and intimate relationship. God does great things for David as he points out in the first three verses of this psalm. God is with him in challenging times. He hopes for and delights in God’s presence. He professes that he will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. His delight in the Lord’s presence runs throughout these verses. God is leading, directing, providing, restoring, protecting, correcting, saving, and honoring him throughout his life. That happens because God is with him, and David is with God.

Perhaps you’ve heard Dolly Parton’s song, Don’t Make Me Have to Come Down There. I’ve pasted the lyrics below. It’s a somewhat whimsical take on the idea that we’re so messed up down here on earth that God is threatening to step in to straighten things out. We need to get our act together. But it misses the true purpose and impact of God’s presence in our lives. He’s not going to come down here just to straighten things out. He came down here to save and redeem us. When he comes again, it will be for the final accounting of all we have done or failed to do. It will also be to take his own to be with him forever.

The blessing of God’s presence will be fully enjoyed by those who love him and yearn for his guidance, provision, and salvation. That’s the promise of God recorded in Revelation 21:1-3

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them,  and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

God’s presence is a blessing for which his people long. It’s better even than a visit from the grandparents!

Don’t Make Me Have to Come Down There
Dolly Parton

Last night I had a dream about God
He was standing on a mountain top
Looking down, around in such dismay
And in my dream I heard him say

Don’t make me have to come down there
My children, you had best beware
If you don’t pay attention, consequences will be dire
Don’t make me have to come down there

I’ve told you time and time again
You can’t disobey and hope to win
I am still the boss here in case there’s any doubt
You know I put you in this world and I can take you out

Don’t make me have to come down there
You’ve always been my cross to bear
I’ve let you try my patience as all good Fathers do
You’re on my last nerve, I have had it up to here with you

I gave you a book, you didn’t read it
I gave you my word, you didn’t heed it
Gave you a map, you said you didn’t need it
And now you’ve lost direction and you’re wandering aimlessly

Don’t make me have to come down there
This is not a game of truth or dare
Now I don’t want to punish you, but if it has to be
This is gonna hurt you more than it hurts me

Don’t make me have to come down there
Bridge this great divide and make repairs
Go to your room and pray ’til you can learn to play fair
Don’t make me have to come down there

Politics, earthquakes, erratic weather
Pandemics, war, and hate
Turn a deaf ear, a blind eye; I am wondering whether
I should take my Bible belt and whip you into shape

Don’t make me have to come down there
My children you had best beware
Clean up this mess and put on something decent to wear
Don’t make me have to come down there

Don’t make me have to come down there
My children you had best beware
Why can’t you learn to listen, and learn to love and share
Don’t make me have to come down there

Don’t make me have to come down there
Don’t make me come down there…

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Dolly Parton

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