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.
This psalm has always been one of my favorites–when I was young my parents, my siblings, and I would recite it together before we were put to bed (we kids, that is). Filled with beautiful imagery, I knew it was a wonderful psalm then, yet as I’ve grown I’ve come to appreciate it even more.
This psalm speaks of superabundant blessings–pictured as a cup that is so full of drink that the liquid is spilling out over the brim. These blessings are not dependent on a person’s good works but are simply a gift from God.
Every day I am astonished by these blessings. Sometimes it is noticeable in large ways–fun with friends, success in classes, etc., yet at other times God’s grace is less evident, but present all the same. Every restful night, every pleasant moment (however brief), even every breath, is a gift from God, something I could never earn or possibly deserve.
Surely there are dark days–days when we are so depressed that the world seems empty and every friend a stranger, days when we are exhausted beyond the ability to think, days when tragedy strikes like a hammer-blow and breaks our hearts, days when we discover that the hydra of sin we thought we beheaded has returned with greater power. These dark days are real, and no, they won’t be easy.
Yet all the while, ‘my cup runneth over.’
This is the great comfort that the Christian recognizes: despite everything, God has blessed me, is blessing me, and will bless me. Notice the last verse of the psalm–‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ There is no equivocation in this verse–nothing conditional such as, ‘If I’m perfectly obedient to God, then surely goodness and mercy will follow me…’ Instead, the psalmist expresses the promise of God’s blessing as fact. God has blessed us–we deserved nothing, yet we were given eternal life. God is blessing us now–even in difficult times we can still see his mercy. And finally, God will bless us. God has already written the end of the story for the Christian, and it is a beautiful, joyful ending. Living in the knowledge of this promise, let us remember at all times:
‘My cup runneth over.’