Sheep Need a Shepherd

May 11, 2012 at 10:31 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 14 Comments
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[A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1

The Holy Spirit had David emphasize his conviction that the Lord is a very personal Shepherd: “The LORD is my Shepherd.” If you compare Psalm 135, you can draw a parallel to the reference to “our God” in Psalm 135:2.

“My Shepherd” in Psalm 23 is not referring to “my” in the ownership sense, for God cannot be owned by anyone. It is not primarily being used in the distinctive sense, either, as though David was saying that, “This Shepherd is my Shepherd rather than your Shepherd.” He is using “my” more in an intimate sense – the way we say “my” mother, father, wife, son, or daughter.

It is true that the Lord is “a” Shepherd, and that He is “my” Shepherd, but He is also the Great Shepherd.

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Hebrews 13:20

Psalm 23 is often used at funerals, but it is not meant for comfort only when we are faced with death.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23:6 (emphasis added)

David had been a shepherd in his youth, so he was familiar with the job and the surroundings, but God used him to write this Psalm later in life after he had been king.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

The shadow of death had fallen across David’s path many times in his life, but death itself had not struck him down.

The Bible pictures being a shepherd as a noble vocation. Abel was the first shepherd, and he was more righteous than his brother, Cain, who was a farmer. Moses spent 40 years caring for his father-in-law’s actual sheep and another 40 years caring for his Heavenly Father’s spiritual sheep.

In the Bible God’s people are often compared to sheep because sheep are animals which need a great deal of care. They are defenseless without their shepherd, the way that we – without God’s help – we will be overcome by the enemy. Sheep get lost easily, the way that we – without God’s help – will go astray. Sheep need constant care, and there is never a time when we don’t need God’s care. Sheep are led, not driven, and we, too, must follow our Shepherd at all times. Sheep are dependent upon a shepherd, and we are not to lean on our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord.

[A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1 (emphasis added)

With the Lord as my Shepherd I shall not lack any good thing. He provides for my needs. Even if the fridge is empty and the cupboard is bare, even if the lights are off, I still don’t “want” or “lack,” because He knows the difference between my “needs” and my “wants” (desires).

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Psalm 23:2 (emphasis added)

Shepherds in ancient Israel would dam up rushing streams from which sheep are afraid to drink. This would create a calm reservoir of water for the sheep. The Lord gives times of peacefulness to His children.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:3 (emphasis added)

The Lord provides times of spiritual and emotional healing. Someone with a broken body can be consoled, but how do you console someone whose spirit has been broken? Only the Lord can do that.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:3 (emphasis added)

These are well-worn paths that the Shepherd has determined will be safe for us. The Holy Spirit must order our steps if we are to walk with the Lord.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh nor a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

“Trust and Obey,” John H. Sammis


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