From Despair to Peace
By Janet Morris Grimes –
Have you ever noticed the difference between 22 and 23? In the book of Psalms, I mean. As many times as I’ve read through those passages, I never considered putting the two of them together. What a sharp contrast they bring to each other.
The twenty-second Psalm begins like this: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”
And then there is the twenty-third Psalm, perhaps the most well-known Psalm of all. The Psalm that calms the soul. “The LORD is my Shepherd. I lack nothing.”
Both are psalms, or devotional songs, written by David. Both exposed the depths of his heart in the truest of ways. And both demonstrate one of the key traits of a deepening relationship with God–the ongoing conversation.
I don’t know what transpired between the 22nd or 23rd Psalm. How much time passed between them? Were they written one after another, chronologically? Or were they just placed in that order by happenstance?
It really does not matter. What matters is that they represent two extremes of the bond between David and his God.
David doubted. He begged. He pleaded. He laid his fears and longings on the altar, releasing his anger along with them. He wondered what was taking so long, or if God was even listening at all.
These are feelings each of us can relate to; at times, we all feel that God is more distant than ever.
So, how did David get from the depths of his despair to the place of peace, beside the still waters mentioned in Psalm 23?
In order to reach that same destination, we must follow the path left by the rest of Psalm 22. David first reminds himself of who God is, and who He has always been. In verse 10, he says “from my mother’s womb, you have been my God.” In verse 11, David recognizes that no one else can help him; “trouble is near, and there is no one to help.”
He then begins to cross over the bridge that leads to the place of peace—the place we most desire. David claims the victory God was already providing, even before he saw the evidence. In verse 31, David rejoices, “they will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn, ‘he has done it!’”
PRAYER: Dear God, help us find your path to peace. Thank you for allowing us to ask the tough questions, and thank you even more for answering them. Lead us beside the still waters; to the place where we fully understand that we truly lack nothing.
“He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3 NIV).