Psalms 23 … Consider Him, Our Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want,
(23:1).

The Lord teaches us so much about Himself through our relationships, and perhaps especially when we are in the position of caregiver to those who are unqualified to care for themselves.

I think about when my two adult children were small; of the many times I was absolutely amazed, marveling at the capacity of love I felt for them. I still am, and now that has expanded to their spouses. And don’t even get me started talking about my three grandchildren. There is no demand too great when it comes to protecting them, guiding them, nurturing them, providing security, and teaching life lessons for their well-being and success. And so many times I’ve had the thought, if I, in my self-centered selfishness, can love like this, how must God love me. It really does take my breath away.

And to me, it makes perfect sense how David became the man after God’s own heart. He learned it in the fields, tending his own flocks. As David thought on all the ways he had to protect and care for and guide his sheep, sheep who were often obstinate and headstrong, He saw the Lord. David’s own life became a parable, illustrating the relationship between himself and his God. David understood, if his sheep were to flourish and thrive, it would be up to him, their shepherd. Sound familiar?

Consider Him, Our Shepherd

Because He is the Good Shepherd, the Perfect Shepherd, He will never leave His sheep vulnerable.

He led His sheep in the Wilderness.

But He led forth His own people like sheep
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock;
53 He led them safely, so that they did not fear;
But the sea engulfed their enemies,
(Psalm 78:52-53).

He led His sheep into the Promised Land.

“May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, 17 who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep which have no shepherd,” (Numbers 27:16-17).

And He continues to lead His sheep, secure in His hand for all of eternity.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand, (John 10:27-28).

He is Our Shepherd Who provides for every need.
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.

He is Our Shepherd Who ensures we rest in His abundance.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.

He is Our Shepherd Who refreshes and renews our whole being.
He restores my soul;

He is Our Shepherd Who leads us in His truth and holiness for His glory.
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

He is Our Shepherd Who is with us in the darkest of times.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

He is Our Shepherd Who emboldens us by His presence.
I fear no evil, for You are with me;

He is Our Shepherd Who encourages us by His discipline and guidance.
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

He is Our Shepherd Who honors us before our enemies.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

He is Our Shepherd Who distinguishes us as set apart to Himself.
You have anointed my head with oil;

He is Our Shepherd Who fills us to all the fullness of Himself.
My cup overflows.

He is Our Shepherd Who keeps us in His covenant love forever.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

How do we respond to Him, Our Shepherd?

More than thirty years ago, I read A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller. Phillip spent years in wildlife management work, including shepherding. It is a shepherd’s devotional perspective on the Psalm, birthed out of his time tending sheep. (It is no longer in print, but is available in The Shepherd Trilogy, which also includes A Shepherd Looks at the Good Shepherd and A Shepherd Looks at the Lamb of God.)

It’s been a long time since I read this book, but one thing Mr. Keller highlighted about verse 6 has stayed with me all these years.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever,
(23:6).

Certainly, this verse expresses God’s Covenant goodness and lovingkindness in keeping us all the days of our lives. But his devotional perspective also points out that sheep can be extremely destructive and wreak a lot of havoc on the land if they are not managed properly. On the other hand, under the care of a devoted shepherd, the sheep can have a tremendously beneficial impact on the land by eating weeds and undesirable plants. The point he makes is that sheep who follow an attentive, benevolent shepherd will leave something beautiful behind.

So, let’s ask ourselves, what are we leaving behind? Are we following Him, Our Shepherd, so that we leave a trail of goodness and lovingkindness that has deposited beauty and grace; or do we leave an imprint marked by disharmony and destruction?

Oh, lets us choose to daily follow Him, Our Shepherd, in humble obedience and dependence, in the path He chooses, that others may be the recipients of His goodness and lovingkindness through us, His sheep.

He is Our Shepherd. He is faithful and good and holds us for all of eternity in His hand. In Him, Our Shepherd, we have every need met. How should we respond? Let’s worship!

Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand,
(Psalm 95:6-7).

Let’s Grow Together!

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