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Providential Pasture
Reflections on the Reformers

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Psalm 23:1–6

From the Reformer

This psalm is neither intermingled with prayers, nor does it complain of miseries for the purpose of obtaining relief; but it contains simply a thanksgiving, from which it appears that it was composed when David had obtained peaceable possession of the kingdom, and lived in prosperity, and in the enjoyment of all he could desire. That he might not, therefore, in the time of his great prosperity, be like worldly men, who, when they seem to themselves to be fortunate, bury God in forgetfulness, and luxuriously plunge themselves into their pleasures, he delights himself in God, the author of all the blessings which he enjoyed. And he not only acknowledges that the state of tranquility in which he now lives, and his exemption from all inconveniences and troubles, is owing to the goodness of God; but he also trusts that through his providence he will continue happy even to the close of his life, and for this end that he may employ himself in his pure worship.

—John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms

Pulling It Together

It made no difference to David the condition in which he found himself. Certainly he wished for comfort and gave God thanks for ease. Yet he seems to have learned to give God thanks regardless. With Paul, he could say that he had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself (Phil 4:11). God had so tempered his character that he could lie down in providential pastures; whether they were green or brown, God was there. If enemies were present, so was the Good Shepherd. If death was near, so was the Lord of eternity and so, his cup ran over with the blessing of God’s presence.

More Reflections

Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. 

Leader's Guide

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