“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want” begins Psalm 23. When I was in high school, we memorized this psalm in French. L’Eternel est mon berger. Je ne manquerai de rein. We would recite it in French every day to begin class and it still runs through my head sometimes. I didn’t understand the meaning then, but I thought the words were lovely. In college, I read the book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. Again, this psalm stuck with me, but this time the words took on a new meaning. Keller used to be a shepherd and in his book, he takes apart the psalm verse by verse, explaining the connections between the words and the relationship that shepherds have with their sheep.
Here’s the thing: sheep are stupid. I’m serious. They wander into dangerous territory, they’re afraid of running water, they have absolutely no defense mechanism. They’re hopelessly easy prey without a shepherd. Isn’t that the same for us? Aren’t we stubborn, headstrong, fiercely independent, thinking our way will bring success? Aren’t we really setting ourselves up for danger, hurt, and rejection by trying to control the events in our lives?
But here’s the better thing: Jesus is our good shepherd. He cares for us, pursues us, feeds us. He knows the best things for us without fail. Yet, like the sheep, we wander away and only desire His presence when we get into trouble-when the events in our lives are too much to handle or too hurtful, often due to our own stubborn actions. And because He’s the good shepherd, He is there, with open arms, pursuing us when we have nothing of value to offer Him. Our salvation is not based upon our own actions. We cannot save ourselves. In spite of us, Jesus has made a way to the Father for He is the Good Shepherd. Come to Him. He is safety.
“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. 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. 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.” Psalm 23
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