Psalm 23 (ESV) The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The Lord is my shepherd. The One who leads me. Or does He? Those led by the Lord do not want. They are content and fulfilled. It is not in their own doing but what the Shepherd does for them and in them. His Care for them is precipitated by trust in the following. I was thinking about what it must be like for a shepherd herding sheep all alone on a mountainside. With 100 sheep or more to care for yet being conscious of every single one for he knows it is valuable to him. So he carefully watches over them, yet when he moves the herd it is dependent on their willingness to follow. Surely he cannot drag all of them with him, so he relies on their trust and obedience to fall in behind him. Obviously, David understood the position as shepherd. He knew what it took to lead a mass following which would come in handy when he was called and anointed to be King of Israel. Yet, it is in the simplicity demonstrated by Psalm 23 that we come to understand exactly how God sees us and particularly what He is after.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Oh hear the Word of the Lord today, let me be your Shepherd and you will not want or need anything. Let me lead you to greener pastures. Let me take you by still waters that will refresh and restore your dry and bitter soul. Let me show you the way of righteousness that unlocks the power of my Name. Let me be your Light in the darkest valley – for with me you can boldly and courageously walk right through it. I am preparing blessings in abundance for your life that they tiny cup of belief you have now can never contain. My goodness and mercy are pursuing you. All the days of your life, I long for you to dwell with me in my Presence. This is what the Lord is saying to us. However there is one tiny detail that so often is stumbled over.
“…Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Divine discipline and direction are absolutely imperative to live the life of fulfillment depicted in Psalm 23. God does not punish us. He cannot punish those who have called on Jesus to be their Savior and declared Him Lord of their life. The sufficiency of His Grace is not challenged. However, it is discipline and conviction that cause us to surrender our way and choose to follow the Way, the Truth and the Life. It means paying careful attention to God’s Word, His Will and His Way in ALL things. His rod is our discipline. It is the very thing that pulls us from sin to engage us in holiness and clean living. It makes us uncomfortable knowing that the settlements and substitutions are made up of compromise and complacency because we decided not to follow Jesus all the way but gave up to complacency or gave in to comfort instead. His staff is guidance. We have been given the Holy Spirit to show us, teach us and guide us to every promise and blessing already prescribed for us. It is up to us to decide if we will follow the Good Shepherd completely or wander off. See the Shepherd gives us a choice. You have a choice of life or death. Blessing or cursing? Fear or faith? To doubt or believe? To withhold or give? To stay or follow? It is all up to you. The Shepherd has made His Way clear now it is up to you and I to follow.
John 10:27-30 (ESV) “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
As Children of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, there is freedom given to us. God will not force us to follow His Commands or to live a holy life. However, those who choose to follow will have the promise of the Good Shepherd as their way of life. The giving of our life for obedience’s sake offers the care and compassion of the Shepherd in our everyday life. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” You must have a relationship with Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd to live in His Company. He wants to know you. The promise of stability anchored to hope is established fully in our faith in Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord but it is not a promissory note to be redeemed on Judgment Day like a Monopoly “get-out-of-jail-free” card. He has a life full of provision and protection that will escort us through life straight into eternity. Otherwise, risking not making it at all! The Good Shepherd is calling! He is inviting us to walk in His Ways today. He is asking us to trust His Truth. He is encouraging us to live as He is our Life! Those who do will have the blessing of the sheep who choose to listen to the voice of the shepherd and follow him wherever he goes! God is good! He is for you! He sent His Son, Jesus to be our Shepherd and lead us home! We must follow! Be the sheep who trust and obey for there’s no better way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey!
Psalm 95:6-7 (ESV) Oh 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.