As we close out our study of Psalm 23, I want to look at the last two verses of this chapter. I recite them over myself often – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” This world is full of trouble. We struggle with others, fighting to feel valued, cared for and seen. We fight to make ends meet, stretching paychecks to the breaking point. On the days where to-do lists never end, it is so challeging to believe that there is a feast table prepared with an assigned seat just for us. The goodness of God is seemingly nowhere to be found.
When David wrote this Psalm, he had lived through war, assassination attempts and exile. He met with God during the most desolate places of his life, and still felt that His goodness was worth declaring. He still believed that in the very valley of the shadow of death, he didn’t need to fear the looming evil. David understood that this world, this earthly home, is not our rest. What goodness we receive here is merely a foreshadowing of the goodness we will find when we, restored to wholeness, joyfully sit at the table of the Lamb of Heaven. Yet, until we claim our seat at that table, sighing with relief and eternal peace, we repeat as those who hold tightly to hope – surely, Your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Friends, this world will hold you captive in fear, stress and anxiety if you allow it to do so. The way of Jesus is counter cultural to this world, requiring us to indeed sit by still waters, rest at tables surrounded by enemies when we would rather fight and to walk through dark valleys that others fear. We are promised eternal rest, but Sabbath is an opportunity to model our faith that God is who He says He is. Sabbath shows that without our striving, God’s goodness and mercy will not only pursue us, but run rampant through lives that are otherwise marked by chaos. Hold tightly to hope. Practice God’s gift of Sabbath, His counter cultural expression of rest in a culture obsessed with achieving, grinding and surviving. We can and will experience His goodness on this earth, and forever and ever, amen.