Monday, September 7, 2009

A Christian Response to Health Care Reform Pt 4

In America today, you would have to be hiding under a rock not to have heard about the health care debate and you'd have to be pretty unusual not to have an opinion on it. I believe that God's word is the answer to any trials we face or concerns we have. With that in mind, I am reposting an exposition of Psalm 23 I did a few years ago as a reminder to all my brothers and sisters in Christ that it is not we nor the government that takes care of us and our needs--it is God. Regardless of how the health care debate shakes out, our God is still on the throne and we can trust Him. Be encouraged.

The ultimate purpose of everything in creation is to glorify God. In the first commandment, in fact, the Israelites are told that God is a jealous God. He is the only one in the whole universe who deserves our praise, honor, and loyalty as our first priority. Because God is holy and righteous, He rightfully expects us to be holy and righteous as well. Luckily for you and I, we are not responsible for living a holy life under our own power. As we read in the second part of verse 3 of this psalm, we are led by a loving Shepherd.

As we read this, we need to step into the sandals, as it were, of a shepherd. During part of the year, the shepherd and the sheep live at the ranch. However, the shepherd later takes the sheep out from the pasture near the home through the valley to the mountain plateau or “table land”. It is this part of the year that I think David has in mind as he writes this verse.

Remember, as we’ve observed before, sheep are not the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree. They get themselves in trouble if left to themselves and make poor choices about what to do or where to go. Actually, that’s not too dissimilar to you and me, is it? Therefore, they need someone to show them where to go.

David declares here that God provides that direction for him just as He does for us. David writes “He guides me”. David doesn’t have to figure the way out for himself. He doesn’t need a GPS or mapquest. God guides His sheep. Notice that God leads the sheep—He doesn’t drive them. The word “guides” is a translation of the Hebrew word “nachah” which is normally used in the Old Testament to indicate someone going ahead or infront of someone to lead them. God has given us His word and His Holy Spirit to let us know the path we should take. We don’t have to use our intuition or reasoning to figure things out. We can trust God because just like He guided David, He will also guide us.

Further, notice that David knew that God guided him in “paths of righteousness”. We are told in Psalm 1 not to walk in the council of the ungodly. Also, in Colossians, Paul admonishes us to walk in a worthy manner. Therefore, it seems evident that where we walk is pretty important. Therefore, God not only leads us but He leads in what are literally “right paths”. These paths are safe. These paths lead us to where we need to go. When God tells us to abstain from sexual immorality, He is leading us down the right path. He isn’t a killjoy who wants to take all the fun out of life. He knows we can get hurt and hurt others if we take the wrong path. He knows that sheep are prone not only to go astray but lead others astray. Therefore, He leads in the right paths so that we can safely reach our destination. Jesus spoke of this path in Matthew 7 when He said there were two roads. The Lord, as our Shepherd, will never lead us down the path of destruction, but rather down the path that leads to eternal life.

He leads us down the right paths, as David notes, “for His names sake”. As Albert Barnes observes in his Notes on the Bible:

“It is not primarily on their account; it is not solely that they may be saved. It is that He may be honored:
(a) in their being saved at all;
(b) in the manner in which it is done;
(c) in the influence of their whole life, under His guidance, as making known His own character and perfections.”

As I stated in the initial paragraph of this post, the ultimate goal of all creation is to bring glory to God. Therefore, God leads us as a Shepherd in the right paths in order that we might bring glory and honor to His name. As Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:9, we should proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Let our lives reflect that kind of change—darkness to light. Let us always be humble to follow the leading of our kind Shepherd who leads us in the right paths.

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