When my daughter, Jill, passed away in 2021, I went through a real tough time. I still do. It can be brutally difficult. Sometimes I feel numb and disconnected. As much as we wanted her funeral to be a day of celebration, it didn’t feel much like a party, at least not the kind of party I wanted to attend.
Maybe you have also felt that way. Your husband died. Your child was buried. You learned about the lump on your breast or the spot on your lung. Someone you loved said they no longer loved you and left. Some of you have felt far from home ever since your home fell apart. God never said the journey would be easy, but He did say the arrival would be worthwhile.
David ends Psalm 23 the same way he started – “The LORD” (“The LORD is my shepherd” in verse 1). The journey took some twists and valleys, but it ends with “The LORD Forever.”
What does this last phrase of Psalm 23 teach us?
You can get a taste of Heaven now.
In the Old Testament the house of the Lord was the Tabernacle and later the Temple. It was the place where God dwelled among His people. Even in the New Testament, the Christian and the local church are called ‘the house of the Lord” because that is where God’s presence is. The house of the Lord is the presence of the Lord. David was saying, “I dwell in the presence of the Lord.”
There seems to have been a sense in which David enjoyed Heaven before he got there. So can you. To him the Lord’s house was not simply a thing in the future, but a reality for the present. In another psalm he talks of ‘dwelling in the secret place of the Most High’ (Psalm 91:1). We can get a taste of Heaven now by dwelling in His presence.
You aren’t home yet, don’t act like you are.
What does it mean to dwell somewhere? It means to sit down, to settle in. In this life, we are just passing through. We might feel our home is permanent, but it’s only temporary. We are living in the equivalent of caravans, not matter how big our small, because our real home is in heaven.
This world is not our home. Heaven is. This explains the homesickness we feel. The twists and turns of life have a way of reminding us – we aren’t home yet. Disease and death are not supposed to be part of our forever home. Deep down you know you aren’t home yet. So be careful not to act like you are.
Life is Short. Heaven is Forever.
Perhaps the most thrilling word in Psalm 23 is “forever”. Heaven is a forever place, not temporary, momentary, or transitory. It’s our forever home. Never to be kicked out, evicted, or left homeless. The place our faith thinks about. The place our hope is set on. The place where we belong. The place we were made for.
Humanity is not prone to take the long view of life. We seek the next thrill, the next drive-through gratification, the next highlight. David does not point to the next exciting event but to a permanent dwelling place in the presence of God. A place we neither build nor deserve. We will dwell in His presence forever.
Almost every day we rub shoulders with men and women, boys and girls, who dwell outside the walls of the “house of the Lord.” They do not experience now, nor will they in the future, enjoy the presence of the Lord. What is your impact on them? Is your life so peaceful, so satisfying, so enthusiastic because you walk and talk and dwell with God, that they become envious? Do they see the benefits of following the Shepherd? Does your life and conversation lead them to Him – and to everlasting life?
What should you do?
- Trust Jesus as Savior and Lord. Will you dwell in the house of the Lord forever?
- Spend time in His presence. Is your spiritual life a little bit of Heaven on earth?
- Share the Gospel with others. Is anyone going to live forever because you told them how?
A familiar story is the best to close this article. A woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness. As she was getting her things in order, she contacted her pastor and asked him to come to her house to discuss some of her final wishes. She told him the songs she wanted, the Scriptures she wanted, the outfit she wanted to be buried in. As the pastor was leaving, she remembered one more thing. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.” The pastor didn’t know what to say. The woman explained, “In all my years of fixing family dinners and potlucks at church, when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably say, “Keep your fork, the best is yet to come.” It was my favorite part of the meal. So when people see me in the casket with a fork in my hand and they ask, “What’s with the fork?” I want you to tell them, “She kept her fork, the best is yet to come.”