The Lord Is My Shepherd...

In Psalm 23, when David uses the metaphor of shepherd to describe the Lord, he is using an image that occurs more than 500 times in the Bible to describe the nature of God; the image also helps us understand how God relates to us, His children.  

*The Lord (our shepherd) is personal.  In the opening phrase of the psalm, David writes, "The Lord is my shepherd."  This personal, individual language used by David in regard to God as shepherd was unique because the people of Israel normally associated the Lord's shepherding activity with His leadership over Israel as a whole community.  David held on to the Lord as hisshepherd just as the shepherd was holding on to him.  David had a deep, intimate, personal relationship with a personal God.  An image conjured up from this psalm's opening verse is a shepherd drawing a little lamb close to his chest, offering the lamb comfort and safety.

*The Lord (our shepherd) is the King.  Even though we have the opportunity to be in close relationship with the Lord, we also need to keep in mind that He is a shepherd who is the King of all kings.  The prophet Micah foretold the rulership of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, with these words:
He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.  (Micah 5:4)  
God's unmatched authority as shepherd is highlighted in this passage.  We must never forget that the shepherd who draws us close to himself by his grace is also the shepherd who has all power and authority.  Intimacy with the Good Shepherd must be held together with reverence and awe in the presence of the Shepherd. 

*The Lord (our shepherd) is the provider.  Psalm 23 gives us many examples of God's provision from David's personal experience:

"I lack nothing..." (v. 1)
"He leads..." (v. 2)
"He refreshes..." (v. 3)
"He guides..." (v. 3)
"You prepare..." (v. 5)
"You anoint.." (v. 5)

David knew the sufficiency of God in his life.  He had learned to trust in the faithfulness of the Shepherd to the extent that he could say: "When I have the Lord, I have everything!" 

*The Lord (our shepherd) is the protector.  Some of the most powerful words in scripture appear in Psalm 23:4...

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me..."

We have all walked through dark seasons in life, times when we have been in a deep valley.  What a comfort to know God's abiding presence in such challenging situations!  The intimate relationship that David had cultivated with God sustained him during the valley days of life.  

As we continue to journey through these summer days together as a church, let's remember to spend personal time with the Good Shepherd, bow in reverence in His holy presence, and radically trust in His miraculous provision and protection.  With Him we lack nothing!


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