Christian Persecution & Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd (Psalm 23:1). I ask that you read this sentence with an intentional stress on the word “LORD.” For indeed, Psalm 23 as a whole is an overstatement without the word “LORD” as a noun in the first sentence. The Psalm only makes sense if the LORD is indeed the shepherd; for in that case, the sheep surely shall not want.
The character and the ability of the Shepherd is what gives assurance. And our LORD is a Shepherd who is both good and strong (Psalm 62:11-12). He is the LORD Almighty and His faithfulness surrounds Him (Psalm 89:8). He will never leave nor forsake His own (John 14:16-20). God’s attributes prove the certainty of Psalm 23 as they do the whole of Scripture. And in Him we rest assured.
Today, I remember the Good Shepherd in light of the persecuted church. As I write, thousands of Iraqi Christians are displaced; threatened by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants to either abandon home, convert to Islam, or face death. Many roam today as refugees in Mosul without the promise of food or shelter.
In Northern Nigeria, the Islamic militant group, Boko Haram, continues to bomb churches, murder Christians and abduct girls for forced marriages. Christians there are living under the constant threat of death – they are indeed sheep trailing through the valley of the shadow of death!
But the LORD remains their shepherd and He never abandons His own. May He raise His rod and staff high and bring comfort to His marooned flock. He is the God of both our green pastures and our shadowy valleys. May He be the strength and sustenance of His people – an ever-present table before them in the presence of their determined enemies.
Prove Oh Lord, that your great goodness and mercy pursues them even now. Anoint them with the balm of your presence and the assurance of their salvation in Christ. Saturate them in your love as though with oil. And satisfy them with the truth of their eternal home with you.
Our Shepherd is the LORD. One day He will open a seal and the sky will be rolled up like a scroll and every mountain removed from its place. The just wrath of the Lamb will come and who will be able to stand it (Revelation 6:9-17)? He will avenge the blood of His martyrs.
Won’t You, Oh LORD, display the power of your great salvation today? May the gospel sustain your sheep and save their persecutors. May Christ be their substitute in judgment and in righteousness. Thank you for His work on our behalf. Please help us to trust your voice and follow – whether to green pastures or to the valley of the shadow of death.