Psalm 23

Michael Dean-Smith

As many of you might know, we had a funeral during the week for one our beloved men in the church, Barry Bourke. Now as you might know, Barry was a man of faith and his faith was squarely placed in the good news of Jesus Christ right up to his last breath. It’s here that I would like to share with you briefly a passage of scripture that meant so much to him and I know that he would want you to hear this so that you might be bought the same comfort that he had in Christ in the closing chapter of his life.

And this is the passage, which is in fact an ancient poem about Jesus, penned by Israel’s most famous poet; King David around 1,000 years before Christ was even born and it goes like this.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

What a beautiful way that Barry (and any Christian) can look at what’s to come. And I say that because of what David says here - notice it, he says “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Notice that David didn’t say “Yea, though I walk through the reality of death.” And that’s significant because the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that there is a hope that goes beyond any grave.

I remember reading Dr. Donald Barnhouse relate something about this concerning his first wife’s death. He, with his children, had been to the funeral service, and as he was driving home, Dr. Barnhouse said that he was trying to think of some words of comfort that he could give them. Just then a huge moving van passed them… As it passed, the shadow of the truck swept over the car, and as the truck pulled out in front of them, something struck the grieving man. He said, “Children, would you rather be run over by a truck, or by its shadow?” The children said, “Well, of course Dad, we’d much rather be run over by the shadow! That can’t hurt us at all.” Dr. Barnhouse said, “Did you know that two thousand years ago the truck of death ran over the Lord Jesus in order that only its shadow might run over us?”

That was the reality that our dear friend Barry lived in. He believed that the good news of Jesus Christ was for all people and that for anyone who puts their trust in the perfect life, atoning death and supernatural resurrection of Jesus - that they too would be saved from our most savage and ancient enemy; death. And dear ones, might I say, I saw first hand what Barry’s faith in that good news bought him at the end - incredible peace and comfort when the end was knocking at the door. That’s what I think Barry would like for you all to hear. This good news that Barry trusted in, when push came to shove, well it gave him a hope beyond the grave and peace a real place to make its home. We are all invited into that same hope through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Tags: #faith , #fear , #death , #psalm

Published: November 4, 2023

Updated: November 4, 2023