“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”……. One of the favorite and well-known Psalms in the bible seem to be Psalm 23.
I could remember memorizing this Psalm when I was very young. My grandfather used to gather all his grandchildren during family prayer times and made sure that we all memorized the Lord`s prayer and this Psalm. What a great way to be kind of a Shepherd to his grandchildren! The first thought that usually comes to my mind when I think of him is his continuous determination to gather his family to pray and to read God`s word regularly.
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”
Many of us have memorized this Psalm and know it by heart; we even have sung it as a hymn many times in our life. What are the thoughts that go through our mind as we read or even sing these first few lines from Psalm 23? How easy is it to comprehend the Lord as our shepherd? I believe to completely understand Him as our Shepherd; we have to consider ourselves as sheep. We have to come to a state of total dependency in Him.
As for me; I would prefer to live as a sheep in this flock, where my needs are constantly met by my shepherd. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters”. He takes total responsibility for my well-being! My daily fresh food and water have been taken care of continuously. Further to this, my shepherd, restores my weary soul and leads me in His righteous path. My life is been well taken care of, that I do not need to worry, fret, be anxious or burdened about anything.
But many of us consider ourselves to be self-sufficient! We have our education, higher paying secure jobs to provide the finances we need, latest cell phones and gadgets to help us navigate to different places, houses and cars to keep us safe and take us to different places, entertainment/vacations to restore our soul etc. We do not seem to need a Shepherd or even want to depend on one. We seem to be in control of our life. David, who wrote this psalm, was a shepherd; before he became king. He took good care of his sheep says the bible; and knew the needs of his sheep. David’s life can be considered self-sufficient in his own way. He had his job, he knew what he had to do in his job and the bible says that he excelled in it. What made him look to God as his Shepherd and to depend on Him continuously?
“Yea, 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.”
As we read the next few lines of this Psalm; we are continuously reminded that He is with us. The God our Shepherd is with us. It does not matter what path we have to travel; whether sickness or death, loneliness or depression, famine or uncertainty, oppression or waywardness He is with us. Most of the time we have heard this Psalm being sung at funeral services. During these times of hopelessness and despair, we seem to focus more on God and meditate on His word. “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me”. His word, the rod; and the continuous presence of the Holy Spirit, His staff; they comfort me when I choose to depend on Him and trust in Him. David must have come to the realization of this continuous presence of God in His life, that He confidently proclaimed the Lord as his Shepherd.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” John 10:27. Jesus our good Shepherd says that His sheep will hear His voice and follow Him, and that He knows them. Many times in our life, as we have to walk through dark valleys, unknown and uncertain paths; it is then that we need to look to Him hear His voice and follow Him. Most of the time; the valley experiences are allowed in our life, to bring us back to our Shepherd. There can be many sheep in the flock but ‘His sheep will hear His voice.’ The question is do we desire to hear His voice, and be known by Him? In this world there can be many different paths that we can choose to travel and many different shepherds whom we can follow; but there is only one good Shepherd who has laid down His life for the sheep.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
As we read the rest of the lines from this Psalm, we may wonder who our enemies are. The bible says “whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” James 4:4. David depended on this God and trusted in Him for his everything; that he didn’t need to chase after what the world offered. Many of us may try to live a life where we may try to please the world and please God; but we cannot serve two masters says the bible in Matthew 6:24. As we surrender each day to the God of the bible, look to Him as our Shepherd; desire each day to hear His voice and to continuously obey His leading; we can be assured that He will prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies.
The world and what it has to offer; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life become our enemies as we continuously choose to surrender to His authority in our life. Our cup will run over as we will lack nothing in choosing to follow this Shepherd; goodness and mercy will be ours all the days of our life.