God's Love On The Way
And At The Journey's End
A Psalm by David.
1 YHWH is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in YHWH's house forever.
World English Bible Version
What is more important, the journey or the destination? Why?
Psalm 23 contains some of the most memorable verses in all Scripture. The core of the psalms has two images, the faith of the pilgrim on his journey and the welcome banquet the pilgrim celebrated in the Temple at the journey's end.
23:1b-4 described the faith of the pilgrim on his way. The verses emphasized the faith walk, the person who traveled light and depended on the Lord to take care of his need, like sheep who depend upon their shepherd. Notice the pilgrim trusted God not only to fill his need, but reveal loving care as he provided such need ("green pastures and safe waters"). The loving care extended to the "dark" times of danger, stress, and lack. The pilgrim trusted God would be always present in every situation, for that was the true meaning of pilgrimage: a journey to a specific religious shrine in response to the call of God.
At the end of the pilgrimage lie the celebration (23:5-6). The host would show hospitality ("anoint my head with oil") and provide a feast. Such demonstrations of care would spite one's enemies. In the context of the Temple, the divine host's care would act as a blessing on the pilgrim now and in the future. The blessing was meant as a sign to non-believers to repent so they, too, could share in God's loving concern.
The uniting theme in Psalm 23 was divine care. God was the shepherd and the host. He showed the pilgrim loving concern during the journey and at the destination.
The question of journey or destination is a false one, to be sure. Both are opportunities for faith, times to trust God. Faith on the road means a dependence on the divine for our daily need. Faith at the destination means celebration, a sense one arrived at the divine banquet.
How do you show your dependence upon God in your daily life? How do you celebrate those events of God's presence?