Psalm 23:1 – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” KJV
When our children were in elementary school, I would drive them to school. On the way we would recite the 23rd psalm, pray, and then “give Him some praise!” It was one of my favorite times of the day.
I’ve come to love this psalm. There is rarely a day that it doesn’t cross my mind; especially when I retire for the night. It has been an encouragement to me on so many levels, at so many different times in my life, but there was a time when it made absolutely no sense to me.
David wrote, “the Lord is my shepherd.” This statement helps us to see the deep and personal relationship that David had with the Lord. Long before it was established that we are to have a personal relationship with Him, David had discovered one. Every thing David mentions in this psalm flows from the truth that the Lord is his shepherd.
David kept his father’s sheep, and as a shepherd he had personal insight to the life and heart of the shepherd. He was the protector of his sheep. One day a lion came to attack the sheep, and he lit into that lion and killed it. On a different occasion a bear showed up, and David took care of that bear for trying to take his sheep. So David was a true shepherd and understood the responsibility of shepherding his sheep. I believe that one evening he was thinking over his day and said, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
Jesus mentioned that He was indeed the Shepherd, the true Shepherd, the Good Shepherd. And Jesus remarked that the shepherd gives His life for the sheep! David understood that truth! He would allow nothing and no one to mess with his sheep. He was their protector! And he was willing to give his life for them. Jesus was not only willing to give His life, He gave it!
David also understood that he guided his sheep. His sheep followed him wherever he led them. They responded to his call and he knew them and the sheep knew him. Jesus also made this same reference to Himself as our shepherd. He said that His sheep knew His voice and would not follow the voice of a stranger conveying to us the intimate knowledge that He had of us and wanted us to have of Him. I have experienced His leading on numerous occasions. One day, in the midst of our district testing week, I was feeling really tired and wanted to give my students a break. I had it all planned out, but suddenly I heard in my Spirit that I needed to continue teaching, so I obeyed. Not five minutes later my principal came in and observed me. He was so impressed that I was still focused on teaching, but in reality, I had wanted a break! My Shepherd whispered to my heart and I listened! It was a powerful reminder of His concern and guidance in my life.
David took care of his sheep. He made sure that the pastures he led them to eat from was filled with green grass and still waters to quench their hunger and their thirst. Jesus made note of the truth that any one who enters the sheepfold through Him would be saved and find pasture, a place of nourishment, of rest.
So much is going on in this world today. It seemed as if our plates were full enough with “life” and then the pandemic struck. Now we have another thing to deal with. At first, it was no big deal for many to stay home to keep from getting the virus and spreading it. Now, some people are tired of being at home and can’t wait to get back to their “normal” lives. For some it will never be normal again, because they no longer have a husband, a wife, a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, a friend, an uncle, a daughter, or a son. And right now, having faith in a Shepherd who protects the sheep is a struggle. But He is a wonderful Shepherd and you will trust Him and continue to allow Him to be your Shepherd, you will again rejoice in Him!
David had struggles. It is often remarked that David was the youngest and forgotten by his father and disliked by his brothers. I don’t know if it is true, but I do know that he wasn’t called to the dinner that Samuel attended until the Lord rejected all of Jesse’s other sons. David came in to dinner, was anointed king, and went back to the sheep and his brothers continued to give him a hard time. But that didn’t stop or hinder David, it allowed him much desired time with His shepherd!
David said, “the Lord is my Shepherd” and because he was a shepherd he understood what that meant. I’m a teacher. The Lord is my teacher. I fully understand that concept of Him being my teacher. I know that He will stick with me until I get the lesson He needs me to comprehend. I understand that His heart is to help me to succeed and not to fail. I understand that when I struggle with a concept, He is there to guide me through the process and to bring me to a place of understanding and application. So in the midst of the struggles of life, I get that when I don’t understand it, my Teacher is available to me to help me understand it.
Maybe that is a concept we should all think about. What is it that I am really skilled at? How is Jesus that to me? How can I see Him in me and in what I do daily? Because He is the great I Am, He’s not in a box and can only be discovered through a certain pair of lens. He was David’s shepherd. He is mine. He is yours! But in order to understand the Lord as your shepherd, maybe you need to understand Him in a way that brings it home for you. A carpenter can understand Him as the Master Builder, a nurse can understand Him as a Caregiver, while a comedian can understand Him as one who fills her heart with joy and laughter. I think you get the picture!
Does that mean that as a shepherd David never had a down day? I don’t think so! But what David never did was lose sight of the truth that he was in good hands with His Shepherd. As are we! He will lead us through this stay at home time, and He will lead us through this pandemic, and He will lead us through life after the pandemic as long as He is Lord. Wonderful Jesus!