1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
I just have to ask. Is he really my Shepherd? I have been studying this scripture as long as I have been studying the bible and I have to ask myself if I do really allow Jesus to be my shepherd. Do I trust him implicitly with every single need that I have? Do I rely on Him to guide me everyday? I found a really good article online from 2005. It was written by a lady name Sandy Simpson and it’s called “The Responsibilities of a Good Shepherd”. I found the responsibilities she listed good so I’m going to use them to outline what a Shepherd does for their flock. She goes on to talk about the Pastor as Shepard. I am coming from the angle of Jesus as my Shepard.
Feeding is one of the primary responsibilities. Jesus fed us his Word on a regular basis. He taught us the principles of the kingdom of God and how we should live our lives on a day-to-day basis. The Beatitudes at the beginning of Matthew chapter 5 are the bases for our Christian walk. I like to call these to “be a Christian attitudes”. How well do you live by the Beatitudes? I suggest that you read through them and study them out. I have a long way to go to be the meek, peacemaker type. This is the food that Jesus fed us for our spiritual bodies.
But he also said he was the Bread of Life (John 6:35) and that we must eat his flesh in order to have eternal life. This was talking about His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. A sacrifice which we must accept on a personal basis in order to be saved. It is not a universal gift that applies to everyone. It only applies if you accept the gift into your own life. So if you have not personally accepted Jesus Christ as the manna that came down from heaven for your sin then this is a good time to do it.
Watering is the next responsibility. Sheep need water in order to live. In the Bible water is typically referring to the Holy Spirit. Jesus said if we drink of the water that he gives we will never thirst again (John 4:14). Do you rely on the Holy Spirit day in and day out to help you make your decisions, to guide and direct you, to help you navigate the trials that you might face? The Holy Spirit comes into our lives when were saved. Jesus calls him the comforter (John 14:26) and he also says that he will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). It is imperative that we don’t just rely on man’s wisdom to reveal the truth of scripture to us. We must rely on the Holy Spirit within us to reveal that truth. Have you been just listening to men read out of their Bibles and expand from the pulpit or have you been searching the scriptures on your own and relying on the Holy Spirit to show you what is right? I find that getting into the scripture after I have heard a message really helps me to discern what Good is saying to me in particular through the preaching of the word.
The next responsibilities of a Shepherd is to groom and shear the sheep. If this is not done the wool on the sheep will eventually suffocate them and they will die in the heat. Shearing is essential to the good of the shapes.
In John chapter 15 Jesus talks about the vine and the branches. He is the vine and we are the branches. Anybody who knows anything about a good vineyard knows that the vines need to be pruned on a regular basis in order to bring forth good fruit. This applies to our lives as well. There are times that God needs to prune us, to shave us, to mold us into what we’re supposed to be. This can be a painful process. Are we ready to go through the trials that God has prepared for us? It’s not that he brings these trials to us but that he allows them into our lives because he knows that they will mold and shape us until what his plan is for our lives. This is a grooming and shearing process of a shepherd. Is he your Shepherd?
I went through a terrible time of “grooming and shaping” eight years ago. God worked me over good at a ministry retreat center in Kentucky. He loped off my pride, my sense of self-worth, my desire to be seen, and my ministry for over two years. When cam home from that 8 months hiatus, I was a changed man. I sat on the pew for over two years waiting for God to open the door back up to ministry. I had been the worship leader and lay minister in my church before that. Now, nothing but babysitting my grand-kids. And God has restored me, in ways that far exceed what I could ever have imagined. He is an amazing husbandman to those who will allow Him to groom and shape them as His sheep.
The next responsibility is delivering Lambs. The shepherd must be prepared to bring forth the new lands when they’re ready. We have a responsibility to produce those lambs so Jesus can save them. Are you preaching the gospel into all the world as you were asked to do (Matt 28:19, Mark 16:15)? Are you doing what God has asked you to do? i can do a much better job here. I don’t share my testimony near enough. Lord, Help me! It has been a long time since I have asked someone if they know Jesus. We have an obligation to bring new sheep to Jesus so that he can deliver them. We don’t have a responsibility to deliver them – He does. Never forget that!
The next responsibilities of a Shepherd is leading the Sheep. I’ve always found it fascinating that a Shepherd walks in front of his flock where almost every other herd of flock of animals is led from behind. The Sheep instinctively follow the leading of the shepherd. Are you following the leading of Jesus in your life? His leading is not always the easy ground. Remember that he went to the cross and he might be leading you into an area of Great Tribulation. will you try to pray your way out of it? Will you question God and wonder if this is really the right way? I know I do quite often. I don’t want to go through difficult situations. But when we do go through difficult situations we need to pray like Jesus did. Not my will but thine be done (Luke 22:42). This is the proper prayer in every situation.
Goind after lost sheep is the next responsibility of Shepherd. He will never leave you or forsake you (Matt 28:20). If you start to stray from the flock circumstances will arise in your life to bring you back. He will lure you back in you over and over again to bring you into the fold. Jesus never gives up on you because nothing can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:31-39). I do believe that I can stop loving God, but God will never stop loving me. If you wander away he will come looking. He is the Good Shepherd and he loves his sheep. Is he looking for you today?
Protection of the Sheep is next. The Good Shepherd watches over his sheep and protects them from any predators that might come their way. We know that David fought off a bear and a lion (I Sam 17:36) when he was a shepherd. This is what God will do for you! He will fight off the enemy of your soul whom he has already defeated. The devil does not have a hold on you any longer if your life belongs to Jesus. If he is truly your Shepherd you are protected on every side and you have absolutely nothing to fear.
Do you find fear coming into your life on a regular basis? If God is your Shepherd there should be no worry and no fear about what the future will bring. Paul said he has learned that whatever state he is in therewith to be content (Phil 4:11). I do my best to follow that advice. It’s not that I don’t strive for better. But I am not complaining about where I am now. Well, let me backtrack a little, I have had some times of complaining to God and my spouse going through all this cancer stuff, but like David, it always turns to praise in the end. No matter what I go through, He is still worthy of my praise, and II know He will see me through. I just know it!
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Verse 2 repeats some of the things we have already talked about, but it gives an opportunity to expand a little on some key elements. Lying down in green pastures tells me two things. First, the sheep are well fed. The green pasture is the best food. What are we feeding our souls? I see people who love to watch horror movies. Some of them are Christians. I’ll never understand why any Christian would want to open the door to evil and horror and fear in their lives. The same goes for our choice in music. Everything we put in affects out mind, and thus our heart. Now Jesus said it’s not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out (Matt 15:11). But naturally, what we take in will eventually manifest itself in some fashion. Be careful what pasture you are lying in.
The second thing lying in green pastures tells me is that they feel safe, protected by the Shepherd. I always feel protected by Him. Do you? Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He has your back, no matter how tough times get? He does, and you can take that to the bank!
The still waters are the easiest to drink from. Have you ever knelt beside a stream and tried to cup a handful of water, or to lap at the water? It is much easier if the water is still. Jesus promises us springs of living water (John 4:14) and we will never thirst again. When He is alive within us, there is an ever flowing well deep down inside that keeps replenishing our joy and peace. Do you have that well flowing in your life?
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
He restores my soul! Restore means to bring back. He brings us back to our rightful place with God, ending the curse that Adam brought on all mankind. We now once again have fellowship with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Hallelujah! And if I should wander off the path, or away from the shepherd, He will come and restore me to the flock if I allow Him to. It is my choice, after all.
He leads me to doing the right thing, not that I will receive any glory, but so that He will receive he glory – for His name’s sake. I must never get in a position where I take the glory for myself. I have done this in the past, and I never want to get in that place again. He does not give me gifts and talents so I can build myself up – He gives them to me so I can bring them back to Him. The parable of the talents teaches us this. All the men brought their talents back to the master (Matt 25:14-30). They all belong to God, and He distributes the as He sees fit. He took mine away for a while, and I never want to see that happen again!
Tomorrow, we will look at the rest of Psalm 23, where he attention shifts a little from the Shepherd leading the flock to Him being with the flock. Tune in for en exciting finish to this classic Psalm