Many people find the 23rd Psalm a great comfort. The reassurance of God’s constancy and care is a lifeline in all the situations we meet. We hold on to the images of green pastures and still waters, of oil overflowing and goodness and love following.
But in all the uplifting words we must remember that it is promising help in trouble – which means there will be trouble. The table is spread in the presence of enemies, and the rod and staff comfort in the valley of the shadow of death. Some Christians think that they should be protected from troubles, but Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have trouble.’
He went on to say, ‘Fear not, I have overcome the world,’ which is a great comfort like that in the 23rd Psalm, but it does not promise to prevent the troubles. We must not let it shake our confidence when troubles come. An old saying in motivational circles says, ‘Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.’ The same applies to troubles. How can you enjoy the table spread before you if you’re watching your enemies?
The sheep get through their troubles by keeping their eyes on the Shepherd.