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Psalm 23 – Part II – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

In my last article, I focused on the importance of our knowing personally that God is our shepherd.  To claim the promises of this Psalm we must have accepted the Lord Jesus as our savior.  David knew God in a personal way and understood what it was to be a shepherd.             

Sheep have no sense of direction, that they don’t recognize landmarks, and thus need to be led.  Sheep are totally dependent on the shepherd, and not just when they are little. From birth to death they need a shepherd to lead them.  When God’s Word calls us sheep, it’s not meant to flatter us. It’s meant to remind us how absolutely dependent we are on our Shepherd, and how absolutely dependable He is!

We can’t even find a good drink of water without Him. But He graciously leads us to water, says David, quiet waters.  That’s because rough water is dangerous to sheep. One slip and they fall in and their water-saturated, heavy wool takes them down like an anchor.  Sheep are also skittish. Noise unsettles them.  The Good Shepherd knows His sheep well he leads them to just the right place, to “quiet waters.” That’s not all He does…He restores His sheep. A “cast” sheep is one that’s turned over on its back and can’t get up. The sheep will die unless the shepherd intervenes. He would run to the downcast sheep, put it back on its feet again, thereby restoring the sheep to life.  Sometimes people who love God get weary souls. They get discouraged and downcast and begin to lose their zest for life. It happened to David, “a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14).” “He restores my soul,” David admits. And the present tense verb indicates that God restored his soul over and over again.

The shepherd’s goal is to see his lambs grow quickly and become healthy mature sheep.  That’s why a shepherd is constantly on the lookout for good pasture. The more quickly the sheep eat and are filled up, the sooner they will lie down to rest quietly and ruminate.  Good forage can cause a lamb to reach 100 pounds in weight within 100 days from birth.  A hungry, ill-fed sheep is ever on its feet, on the move, searching for another scanty mouthful of forage to try and satisfy its gnawing hunger. Such sheep are not contented, they do not thrive, they are no use to themselves nor to their owners. They languish and lack vigor and vitality.

David testifies of his shepherd, “He guides me.” David didn’t live life by his own plans. He simply followed his Shepherd.  Where does our Shepherd guide us? God leads His people in paths of righteousness.  His ultimate agenda is the honor of His name. You need to know this about the Shepherd. Yes, He cares for us, but He doesn’t exist for us. To the contrary, we exist for Him and for His honor and glory. And He does with us that which most promotes His name’s sake. 

Be assured that our Shepherd is very concerned about His reputation. That’s why He guides us in paths of righteousness, and that’s also why He takes decisive action when we turn from Him and choose paths of unrighteousness. It’s for His name’s sake.

Our shepherd may take us into dangerous circumstances as it says “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”  The journey with the Shepherd is not always easy. There are valleys along the way, low points, challenges, even dangers.  Granted, Jesus Christ defeated death, and we who know Him share in His victory. But still we face death, and at times our Shepherd guides us right into very shadow of death itself.

Thankfully, He doesn’t leave us there, but takes us through it without the fear that one may have who doesn’t know the shepherd.  Hear the promise of the Shepherd: “I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5).” What a difference it makes knowing the Lord is with you!

You don’t have to wonder where you’ll spend eternity. If the Lord is your Shepherd, you will experience not only His goodness in this life but His presence forever!

 


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