ShepherdYesterday we saw how Moses longed for a shepherd for the flock of Israel. This is because Moses, and all good and Godly leaders, are shepherds - just like God shepherds us.
We're going to look at Ps 23 to understand how God shepherds us.
It is intimidating to even attempt to comment on a psalm that is so loved and appreciated by people. There are many who know this psalm by heart and it has been a comfort for many. I'm simply going to make a few comments on some of the key features of the Psalm.
The Palestinian shepherd does not herd or chase the sheep, he leads them. They know and follow his voice and go where he has already been. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He does not ask us to go where He has not been.
As sheep get heavier with wool, drinking can be very dangerous, rapidly moving water can overwhelm a wooly sheep as the wool absorbs the water very quickly and can weigh the sheep down allowing the water to sweep it away. When we listen closely to the Shepherd's voice, we will hear Him calling us to 'come apart and rest a while' so that we can feed where we will not be overwhelmed and where our souls can be restored.
We can be sure that He will lead us along paths of righteousness: His name is at stake. It is one of the sure ways to test whether it is God leading us or someone else. If there is a chance that His name will be dishonoured, then it is not God leading us.
The valley of the shadow of death is a place where the sheep get jumpy and can do silly things. Our Shepherd has not only been through the valley of the shadow, He has been through the valley of Death too. We know that He will be with us. The rod (or shepherd's crook) is used to hook around a sheep that has panicked and headed in the wrong direction. The staff is used to beat off predators. The Lord will pull us back when we are being silly and he will protect us when we are in danger.
The imagery shifts from a shepherd to a host, and the table we come to is the table of grace and love, the table of bread and wine, body and blood. The oil is the symbol of the Spirit and we overflow with the blessings of God's goodness, grace, and love.
In that love we would dwell forever.
|1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. |
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalms23:1-6)
Thank You Lord that You are our Shepherd. Help us to find the still waters You lead us to so that we can know Your presence in the valleys and shadows. Help us to see how our cups overflow.