Psalm 23:4 (ESV)
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.
Bobo is a cuddly-looking donkey whose main job is to guard sheep. He was standing near a flock of sheep, which were grazing contentedly at an outdoor hay feeder. Bobo looked quite placid and harmless. As you saw him you could not imagine Bobo attacking a wolf or coyote. But apparently, he can run down any canine, bite it, kick it, pound it, and chase it off. When Bobo is near the sheep, predators stay away!
Bobo's owner, Mrs. J, has noticed that the sheep thrive better when he is nearby; they are relaxed and calm. But when Bobo is gone, they get edgy; they won't eat or rest. Then, when he joins them again, she can immediately see their bodies relax.
Bobo and his sheep remind us of the twenty-third psalm. The psalmist, David, compares himself to a sheep who feels safe and secure. He knows that his mighty Guardian is nearby; so he has no reason to fear deprivation, evil, or even death. Interestingly, those are among the most common sources of fear and anxiety still today.
Of course Bobo can't provide everything a sheep needs. But for David, God could indeed meet all his needs. David wrote, "I lack nothing." (v.1) He also wrote, "My cup overflows." (v.5)
The "cup" here refers to the sum total of one's lot in life. For each of us, that cup is half-empty and half-full. What matters is the half through which we see life. Those who see from the empty half will brew over what they lack or what might run out. Their conversation suggests that they always feel shortchanged. They live in a constant state of anxiety, distrust, and discontent. Like the sheep without Bobo, they are edgy. They cannot enjoy the present because they are resentful of the past and worried about the future. Being in the empty half of the cup, they cannot see the amazing depth of the full half.
Then, there are those who dwell in the full half, and we can tell. They can enjoy the present. Their eyes are fixed on the qualities of life that never run out -- but rather grow richer -- like goodness and love. These people are content, forgiving, and generous. The more blessing they give away, the more they receive. We enjoy their company and feel renewed by them. That would describe David.
David was convinced that no matter what happened, God was nearby to protect and provide abundantly. With God, life would never become empty and meaningless: God would always give him direction. For David, life would always overflow with divine blessing. David lived in the full half of the cup and was confident that goodness and love would remain with him forever -- even into eternity.
That portrays a trusting faith in God.
Dear Lord, we don't want to live in the empty cup anymore. Help us learn to trust You so that we can see life as an overflowing cup and enjoy the abundance we find in Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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