Having begun a new year, the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 2023, it is fitting to consider these words from the late Prof. Robert D. Decker, who served the PRTS from 1973-2006 (d. 2021). They are taken from an article he wrote in 1989 for the Standard Bearer based on Psalm 48:14, "For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death."
May they be a source of comfort and hope to our readers in this new year.
"This eternal God will be our guide even unto death. The text, correctly translated, reads, "He will shepherd us." This means God will nourish and feed us. No man does this. Our eternal God does this by His grace and Holy Spirit through those whom He calls. God does this chiefly by means of the preaching of His inspired, infallible Word and by the use of the sacraments. That God shepherds us means as well that He rules us by His grace so that we willingly serve Him in love. God protects us from all our enemies, preserves and sustains us through every trial, every suffering, and through all of our sorrows. God gives us grace sufficient for our every need and guides us every step along our way, the way which He in His wisdom and love has determined for each of us.
"Our eternal God will shepherd us even unto death. This means simply that from the moment of our birth to the moment of our death God will shepherd us. He never leaves or forsakes us, not for a split second. God cares for us to the very end.
"And because this is true, nothing can be against us, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. All things are for us! Even death is for us! O, I know, death is horrible from every human point of view. Death is often preceded by terrible sufferings. We saw that with our dear one the past weeks. That strong body became so weak and that booming voice became barely a whisper. Death is the end of all our earthly relations. We have lost a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother in the Lord, and a co-worker in the ministry. What is worse, death is the expression of the wrath of God against sin. Death is part of the, curse! It is no wonder that the apostle refers to death as the last enemy (I Cor. 15)!
"But all that has been changed! Death has been swallowed up in the victory of the cross and resurrection, of Jesus Christ. No longer is death the end. Death is the beginning of perfect joy, of fellowship with our eternal God in glory. God will be our guide; He will shepherd us even unto death, and through death take us to the glory of His presence.
And that is absolutely certain. Our eternal God will be our guide. There may be no doubt about this! Our eternal God will surely be our shepherd even unto death. Therefore, God's church shall surely stand.
"This is what we must tell the generation following. God's Zion, His church, is full of the glory of God. God's church is indestructible! Because it is God's church! And this God, our God, is eternal and forever; He will shepherd us even unto death!"