I love the 23rd chapter of Psalms. It speaks to me on so many levels. It helps settle the turbulence that is in my heart when I read the horrible goings on in the world. It also helps me to remember that HE, God the Father is still in charge and that HE will see us through.
The Lord is my shepherd … it is interesting that so often we place man on a pedestal. I have to admit that it happens to me, people put me up as some great holy guy know it all and then they realize that I am just a sheep, just like them. Just like you.
The Lord is our shepherd and because of that we will not have want. He is there for us and even though we have other “sheep” we learn from and align with, at the end of the day they, us, you are all still sheep in need of the one true shepherd.
That is not to discredit those of us who are called to lead and be in the service of The Lord. But sometimes it goes to folks head and it gets the best of them.
I look at all these famous bestselling pastors out there. Caught in adultery, homosexual trappings, drugs and debauchery. They think they are above it all and forget that they are just sheep like everyone else.
Knowing that The Lord is my shepherd is comforting. At times the weight of the world sits so heavy on my shoulders. That is when this chapter helps me realize what I really am and who is really in charge.
God is in Charge, He is my shepherd. Because He is in charge, His grace is sufficient for me. I shall not want.
Back when we first moved out to the ranch in New Braunfels we were given some sheep to take care of. Boy did we learn a lot from watching the sheep. They are really stupid and stubborn creatures. I now know why Christ refers to us as sheep so often. Because we are stupid and stubborn as well.
That is why I find verse two so humorous. He MAKETH me to lie down in green pastures.
When we had our sheep they were constantly trying to get out onto the ranch. We had great green grass, good feed, fresh water all the good things that sheep love. But the grass was always greener on the other side of the fence. One time two of them escaped and it took me several hours to wrangle them back. I had to lasso them and literally drag them back into the safety of the yard. Both of them kicked and fought me every step of the way. I was really tempted to just leave them out there, but I knew that they would end up as coyote food once it became night.
Like our sheep, God makes us lie down in green pastures. Why? Because he loves us and he is protecting us from the predators that are out there. But we constantly want to escape so we can partake in the “greener grass” that we believe is out there.
He leadeth me beside the still waters. Like the green pastures, God knows what is best for us. If we just get to that point where we will submit to His will and not our own, we will find out that the waters HE LEADS US TO is the freshest and quenches our thirst like none that we can ever find on our own.
But the key is to submit to HIM and allow the Lord to lead us. It is something hard for a sheep to do.
But if we do, “He restoreth my soul.”
This is something that all of us need today. The world is so hard and it seems like it is pressing in harder and harder on us daily with all the trials and tribulations that we as Christians endure. I am reminded again of His Grace. It is sufficient for us and is there for us even in our darkest times. He sees us through and restores our soul.
When we finally submit and start walking with Him, allowing Him to lead, “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
God leads us in the way of being one of His children. He instructs us through His Word and directs us through that still small voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us through our conscience. After a while we start to see His providence at work in our lives because we came to the point of trusting him and stopped being stubborn.
This is our duty. In past writing I taught of the Servant – Warrior. To walk that path of duty is the truly pleasant way. When we submit to the shepherd and He becomes our King we discover that the path of righteousness is a path of true peace.
The key is submission, like the sheep finally submitting to the shepherd. We cannot walk these paths unless God both lead us onto them and lead us in them.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
This is the peace that walking the path of righteousness gives. Even though we are facing all sorts of trials, life changing events, maybe even death, God promises to be with us.
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
When we see these mentioned the first thing that comes to mind is hooking the sheep with the shepherds crook. That is the big curve in his staff and that is how he captures sheep who do not want to listen and try to run off. The rod or a goad is a stick with a sharp point that prods us in the direction that the shepherd wants us to go.
When we buck against the goad, we feel the prick.
When we finally learn to submit to His rod and His staff, we realize that there are boundaries. See boundaries for sheep is a very good thing. The boundaries are there to protect us and keep us safe. They help us to live a life of peace and tranquility in Him. His rod and His staff they comfort us. They remind us of the boundaries the shepherd has put in place because He loves us and wants the best for us.
Like the sheep we used to have, we wanted them to be protected and live a life of safety inside the boundaries of our yard. The coyotes and other things were out on the ranch that could lead to their destruction and kill them.
When we do submit and we learn the boundaries He has placed before us and we learn to live within those limits, rules, laws and we come to realize that life is good.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Even in the midst of trouble, trials, hardship and affliction, we realize that His Grace is there. He gives us a peace that only God’s Grace can provide, so much so that our cups runneth over. The key is to remember that we are the sheep and He is the shepherd. In submitting to the will of the shepherd is the only way that we will have that peace that pours over us. Much like warm fragrant oil being poured over our head. The warmth of the oil envelops us and the sweet fragrance fills our nose with soothing smells that calms us.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
When we are in that place of peace, it truly is a place of goodness and mercy that the shepherd provides and will continue to provide all the days of our life.
This is what it means to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
The Lord is our shepherd, and our King. He alone is the one who sees us through the storms when we allow him to be our shepherd. But when we buck against the staff and run wild in rebellion, the shepherd will come after us and drag us back to Him, even with us kicking and screaming like the stubborn sheep we are.
Do you know what a shepherd does if he has a sheep that continues to buck against him and run away?
He breaks their legs so that the sheep cannot walk and then must be carried by the shepherd. This in turn causes the sheep to bond to the shepherd and that sheep will never stray very far from the shepherd. The sheep remembers the pain and will continue to have that “ghost pain” for the rest of his life reminding him of the consequences of running away and rebelling against the shepherd.
But if the sheep does not learn and bond with the shepherd, the shepherd will eventually kill the sheep. The shepherd realizes that the sheep will lead other sheep astray and endanger the entire flock. Sheep are natural followers and from time to time there rise up sheep that are rebellious. So for the sake of the flock, the rebellious sheep is taken away and put to death. It does not happen very often, but it does happen.
I highly encourage you to memorize the 23rd Psalm. It will be there in your heart when that dark time falls upon you, and yes, dark times are coming.
The more that we are able to equip ourselves with His Word in our heart the more we will be able to weather the storms that are beginning to bear down on us in these last days of the last days.
Trust in the one true Shepherd and submit to Him. He is the way, the truth and the life.
By Ray Gano