In the last couple of days, I have been meditating on Psalms chapter 23. It is probably the most popular chapter in the Bible and probably recited every single day around the world. This piece pf writing is credited to King David of Israel. It is a Psalm of assurance, confidence, comfort and hope in the Lord.
It starts with with the Author proclaiming what God is to him. “The Lord is my Shephered”. One wonders why David chose to depict himself as a sheep being tended by the Shephered. Sheep are not the most intelligent of animals. I heard a speaker once say, “If you release most animals into the wild, they will most likely survive but if you leave sheep all on their own, they would most likely die within a short time”.
Shepherds are known to lead sheep to places where they can obtain food. The sheep knows this, so they follow the Shephered wherever he leads them. Having been a Shephered boy himself, King David understood how the sheep depended on the Shephered and how the Shephered tended and cared for the sheep. No wonder that analogy came to him naturally as he described his relationship with and dependency on the Lord.
I have heard some people say, “I want to live my life on my own terms and not as dictated by a God I can’t see”. What they do not realise is that no one is ever truly free.
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey– whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:16-18)
In Psalm 23:2-3 David recognised that God is His provider. The Shephered makes sure that the sheep are fed. He does not just lead them anywhere he wants to go for the fun of it. Rather, he leads the sheep wherever there is food for them to eat. He ensures that they are not only taken care of but also makes sure that they are healthy. Do we really believe that the Shephered of our souls will provide all that we need?
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
The sheep confidently follow the Shephered even when there is obvious danger along the way. The sheep trusts that as long as the Shephered is with them, they will be fine. Do we feel the same about the Shephered of our souls? When trouble comes knocking, do we walk in bold confidence knowing that He is with us and will not let anything happen to us?
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one (2 Thess 3:3)
When David was brought before Saul because of his outrage at Goliath’s taunting, Saul told him, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David replied, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.” (1 Samuel 17:34-35) Wow! What a picture of a Shephered who stops at nothing to protect his sheep even at the risk of his own life! No wonder David understood what it meant to be protected by the Most High God!
The sheep while feeding, are oblivious to the danger around them but the Shephered is alert and ready to ward off any attempts to harm the sheep. David understood this perfectly as he declared, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” Do we get carried away with worry and anxiety because of the people around us who are plotting to harm us? Just like the sheep’s focus is the Shephered, our focus should be to the One who keeps us and prepares the table before us in the presence of our enemies.
You anoint my head with oil and my cup overflows In the Old Testament of the Bible, Priests and Kings were anointed with oil when coronated or chosen for service. When poured, the oil runs from their head and drips down their face. Today, God anoints us with His Holy Spirit and He gives us more than we need to accomplish our divine calling. That is why Jesus declared; “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” (John 14:12)
The Psalms ends with another confident declaration; Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of theLord for ever.
This is a man sure of God’s goodness following him for the rest of his life. There is so much assurance in this statement because David understood that the Shephered would never leave the sheep no matter what. Fast-forward to the time of Christ, after giving the command to go and preach to all the nations, He concludes with a promise, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Not every Shephered will be prepared to lay down their lives for the sheep but Jesus being the Good Shephered, did exactly that. He laid down His life for the ones He loved, and that includes you. Will surrender to Him and let Him lead you?
Steve Popoola is the editor of Biblepraise Newsletter and the founder of the Biblepraise Fellowship Online at http://www.biblepraise.org. He lives in Kent, United Kingdom, where he works as an IT Professional. He currently serves as a Worship Leader as well as Home Group Leader in his local church and on occasion, speaks at invited events. He is the founder of the BiblepraiseFellowship Online Ministry and Moderator/Editor of the Biblepraise Newsletter. He can be reached through His email address, firstname.lastname@example.org