Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Lent 2021

Layers of Faith

The content of this Reflection is a summary of the contributions of church members who shared insights and ideas during the Zoom Study Time in  the first week of Lent.

A Reading from Psalm 23 – A Psalm by David from the Good News Bible

“1 The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. 2 He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. 3 He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. 4 Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, LORD, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me. 5 You prepare a banquet for me, where all my enemies can see me; you welcome me as an honoured guest and fill my cup to the brim. 6 I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life; and your house will be my home as long as I live.”

Getting the Bigger Picture of David

In Study Time we started thinking about the life of David and any events or incidents that might, in some way, have been buried in the depths of this psalm.

  • The first, and probably the most famous event, was David, as a boy, defeating the Philistine champion Goliath.
  • Others mentioned how he’d been hunted down by King Saul, who hated him.
    • Some recalled the harrowing time that David’s son, Absalom, led a rebellion against him.
    • Many knew that David had had an affair with the beautiful woman Bathsheba, and then arranged for her husband Uriah to die in battle.

Looking through the Psalm, we felt like we could see the reality of the fear, the danger, the bitter sadness, and disappointment, and even the depths of sin that the LORD had rescued David from.  We then began to realise that this psalm was not a pious poem of  religious praise, but David’s account of the real life experience of a loving God.

Not just a Psalm but a Testimony of David’s Experiences of the LORD

At that point in our time together, the groups made two vital points about the power of Psalm 23:

  1. Firstly, David is giving a testimony – he is thrilled about what God is really like, and backing up all his insights by giving examples of things the LORD has really done for him.
  2. Secondly, David is telling us these things because he want us to have the same experiences of the LORD who calms us, rescues us, and loves us!

Building Faith, Layer on Layer

Some time ago, I shared about the life of George Muller. For many Christians, he is a great inspiration to  pray, and to trust the LORD for all the necessities of our lives, and the resources to help others.  In 1825, George had a very shaky beginning to faith – he barely believed in God!

This is George with an entry from his diary from about 1850.  By this time he was a minister in Bristol and had set up 5 schools and a huge orphanage on a hillside called Ashley Down – seeking all the help and finance by prayer! George had grown slowly in his faith…..step by step, and layer on layer.

How David Grew in Faith Step by Step, and Layer on Layer

When David, as a boy, offered to fight Goliath, his bothers mocked him.  Then he reveals the secret to how his faith was growing:

“The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine. (1 Samuel 17.37)”

David is looking back to experiences that had gone before.  When he was minding the sheep, and the flock was attacked by wild animals, God gave him the strength and the wisdom to kill them.  He then looks to the LORD for another layer of faith – God, You helped me overcome lions and bears, now help me to overcome this huge, armoured warrior, Goliath – and God did it.

Like David, We can Build on what the LORD has Already Done for Us

It’s as if David is saying:  I’ve seen the LORD, like a Shepherd, lead me into places of rest, then, through times when I felt like my soul was falling apart, then, through danger and anxiety; even through confrontation with scary enemies….

Now I want to climb to a higher level of faith…for things that have not even happened to me yet!  – The word “surely” in this verse is the Hebrew word “ak”- it’s not really a word, but an expression of confidence that David wrote into the Psalm-  it could be translated ”I am absolutely certain that goodness and mercy  shall follow me all the days of my life”.

In these difficult days, reflect on your early experiences of the LORD.  Then think of the different ways He has guided you; the problems and crises He has carried you through. Now, use this as a solid platform to say to the LORD:

Because of all You have done through all the days of my life, I know I can put the future in Your hands.  You have been, You are, and You will always be my Shepherd. I set my trust in You, Lord. Amen.

And though I walk the darkest path,
I will not fear the evil one,
For You are with me, and Your rod and staff
Are the comfort I need to know.

And I will trust in You alone,
And I will trust in You alone,
For Your endless mercy follows me,
Your goodness will lead me home.