The Meaning and Cycle of Life from Psalm 23

Connecting the verses of Psalms 23 and you shall discover the meaning, journey and ending of life. Read the details to know how to live a full life without regrets.
Psalm 23 is usually read in funeral services and written on tombstones.  In funeral services, we are reminded that the departed is now in heaven with the Lord forever. On the tombstones, due to the limitation of space, only the first half of the verse, "The Lord is my shepherd", is usually written and telling us that the deceased has been a believer.

Expositions on Ps 23 are frequently done in parts. While each verse of Ps 23 is rich in meaning, putting them together and seeing them as a sequence of events in life is even more meaningful. We shall do that in this post.

Connecting the verses show us that Ps 23 provides us the answer for:
  1. What is the meaning of life?
  2. How do we live this life?
  3. Where do we go after this life?
Here is the mind-map of Psalm 23 and showing Life as 3 stages of the beginning, the journey of up-down-up and a ending of eternal blessedness.

1. Meaning of Life - Knowing God as Father thru His Son Jesus
Our life is about knowing God. Not just knowing God as the creator but knowing God as our Father. David considered himself a sheep and see God as his shepherd. 

Jesus came to tell us and show us that God is our Father. God is a personal God that relates, care and love us and not an impersonal God of power and called the Source in many books.  Jesus prayed in John 17:3 "And this is life eternal, that they should know thee(Father v1) the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ (the Son v1)." 

 John said in 1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 

Life begins with Knowing God as a shepherd to his sheep. As a father to a child and as a shepherd to his sheep, the Father loves as show in providing, protecting, caring, developing, guiding and blessing his child. Such loving acts are shown in the journey of life in the next few verses.

2 The Journey of Life - the Smooth, the Valleys and the Celebrations
Life journey begins with God providing a good environment for our development. As we mature, God will lead us to greater challenges, even in times of great difficulties. Such difficult times of persecutions, betrayals, disappointments are but trails to develop our faith and trust in God. We need to know in such times that God is still with us. While we may not be aware, God is keeping the enemies out with His rod and pulling us back from dangers of falling into pits with His staff. Those times are, but shadows, look like and feel like, but not the true death. Death is kept away by God already. Lift up your head and press on, always keep in the path of righteousness and you shall see the breakthrough. There is a pay-back time from the Lord in front of our enemies - those who persecuted, betrayed and scorned at us. The blessing and promotion of our Lord is beyond our expectation --- the anointing oil, the cup overflows.

3. The End is but Beginning in the House of God Eternally
When we come near to the end of our this life journey, we can reflect and know that this is but a life full of God's goodness and blessings - even through the valleys. We are please that we have lived a meaningful and worthy life. We are looking forward to and shall be received by Him into the eternal dwelling with Him and with our friends and family members who have gone before us.

If you want a good ending of life. A life without regrets. Then begin your life with knowing God as your shepherd of life, or more simply, God as your heavenly Father that you can follow His will and calling for you. Start now and live with no regrets.

Update 11 June 24

We can break it into 6 stages of life and they corresponds well with I-Ching #1 Heaven 6 stages too.


God Speaks To All - Discovery from Book of Job

The Bible Book of Job shows us that God revealed Himself to all nations and races throughout history. No one nation or race can claim exclusivity on God. God seek out and response to whoever will seek Him. God is a God of love and justice and play no favorite to exclude anyone.
It is interesting that the Bible includes the Book of Job. While we may not be absolutely sure about exact dates on the life of Job and the authorship of the book, we can roughly estimate the time from its content. Being included in the Bible, we can also accept the authenticity of its content.

The Time and Age of Job
Job 42:16  And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, four generations.

At the start of the story, Job had 7 sons and 3 daughters. They were having parties and so they must be of certain age. If the youngest is 15 and Job had one child every year, then the eldest should be about 25. If Job had his first born about 20 year old, then the calamity struck when Job is about 45. If he lived for another 140 years, then the age of Job is 185 or older.

We had from the Bible the life spans for other others. The list of people that were around 200 year-old are:

  Terach died at 205
  Abraham died at 175
  Isaac died at 180
  Jacob died at 147
  Moses died at 120

Knowing that the lives of people got shortened through time and is specifically recorded at 120 after the flood (Gen 6:3). Ps 90 set it at 70-80 which is roughly the average life-span of our present generation.

We can roughly put Job in the times of the Patriarchs such as Abraham or even earlier is we estimate Job to be older. See "When Was the Book of Job Written?" - Probe Ministries for more reasons for this estimate.

What then is the new discovery?
Job lived in roughly the times of Abraham and  was before the giving of the Laws of the Moses. The Jews and the Arabs were not there yet. Then
  1. How do they know about God? 
  2. What do they know about God?
How do they know about God?
We know they knew about God because they sacrifice to the God. Job's friends  talked about how God is like to kind of 'comfort' him. So, how do they know about God? It must be word of mouth, some form of writing and ritualistic practices throughout the generations. It may also be from the study of the working of the universe as told in Rom 1:19-20. 

We know that the Chinese since its recorded history practiced sacrifices to God as well (see for example http://www.orthodox.cn/localchurch/200406ancientcnhist_en.htm

The Chinese characters captured the creation and the sinning of Adam and Eve as well. See for example http://www.bibleprobe.com/chinese.htm or do a google search to get more such texts.

The key point that I am stressing is that God speak to all nations and races since the creation. No one particular person, religion or race can claim exclusivity to knowing God

What was their knowledge of God?

From Job's actions of making sacrifice for his children sins, and his friends arguments about Job's suffering we can see that the God that they knew is am All Mighty God of justice who blesses the righteous and punishes the evils. That was the concept of God before Job's suffering.

After Job's encounter with God, he knew more about God and the working of the spiritual worlds and its relation with the natural world.

Job said in Job 42:5  I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; I think it tells us that he now had a first hand experience with God. In his encountered with God, God must have shared with him many things and I believed that Job wrote his book of Job to share with us. The details are share in Why is there Suffering for Good People - Job's Answers.

He now discovered another key attribute of God, which is love. Job needs not live in fear of punishment and continue to make sacrifices just in case. God shows Job that He created a wonderful world and care for all His creations. Job can put his trust in the loving hand of God no matter what, even through temporary set back, to set him up for greater blessings.

Job came to know that God is both Justice and Love and love man enough to give of Himself for man. God will speak and reveal Himself to whoever that seek Him regardless of race and even of religions.

Lim Liat (C) 11 Aug 2012