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.
Psalm 23:1-4 (NKJV)
Over the last several weeks, the word essential has become political and taken on a whole new meaning. When I was growing up, a trip to the grocery store included purchasing the essentials for the next week. You know, meat, potatoes, a few vegetables, bread and milk. Our parents were disciplined and deviating from these basics would be a rare occurrence. But as times changed, life got busier, and lists got longer, and the politicians said stores should be open seven days a week to meet the needs of shoppers.
As society has culturally evolved, Biblical truths, and time-tested principles, have fallen victim to focus groups and consensus building by political leaders longing to retain or obtain power. These decisions alienate large segments of society, dividing us from one another, while appearing to further diminish God’s place in America.
Thankfully, it appears the country is beginning to open its doors once again. This crisis stirred the embers of fear into a roaring fire, slamming shut the voice of reason, and with it, the doors of freedom in our country.
When we are meditating on Psalm 23, we are often experiencing life’s hardships, sadness, personal illness or the death of a loved one. These are comforting words in times of crisis. Perhaps you are experiencing a crisis right now? God is here waiting to offer comfort. But this verse offers more than just comfort in crisis, it is promise for everyday life.
As King David penned the beautiful words of the 23rd Psalm he made two significant presentations. First, his writing was not written as a King to his constituents, it was written from the sheep’s point of view. David was the ideal person to understand the life and characteristics of sheep from his time as a shepherd.
Taking on the role of sheep is certainly not the most glamorous position. Sheep are known to be slow, defenseless, and some say, not the sharpest tool in the shed. I think that is being a little harsh given their tremendous memory and the uncanny ability to know their shepherd’s voice. But they are easily frightened by noises, cannot find food or water on their own, lose their way easily, and wear a sign that says, “Parasites welcome in my wool.” That sign is reversible with another which reads, “Easy snack food for predators.” It is no wonder the Bible refers to us as sheep more than 200 times.
David talks about green pastures, still waters, security and safety. All of these offer the sweetest essentials to the flock. Yet, these words are personal, and the shepherd knows every sheep by name. The shepherd has a relationship with each sheep and is attentive to their specific needs. The sheep know at the end of the day the shepherd will lay down beside them and protect them while they rest.
The second key thing we learn through this verse is the attitude of our writer King David. Being the youngest of eight boys, the responsibilities of shepherding were like hand me down clothes. In Biblical times the label of shepherd boy was the lowest point on the employment chart. It was a smelly job, done every hour of every day, in rain, cold, and done mostly alone. Moreover, there were lions, bears, and wolves constantly waiting for the shepherd to fall asleep at the end of their shepherd’s staff. It most assuredly sounds like a way for young boys to become men.
At this point in David’s life he was no longer a shepherd boy, he was King. He had already proven himself a man by defending the flock from lions and bears, killing them with a club, not a high- powered rifle from afar. He had stepped up when others fell away to take on Goliath. With all these proven successes, David could have been an arrogant Psalmist, but we do not see that in these verses. Instead, there is a humble recognition from where these successes came.
But David, like all of us, was affected by a very human nature. While much was from his own making, the adversity he felt was real all the same. Dealing with conflict and crisis in our lives shows us our weakness and God’s strength. When we know the Shepherd’s voice, and follow Him obediently, he leads us to greener pastures. Our souls are refreshed by His living waters. Conflicts are a sure way to humble us and understand our need for God.
For me, and many others, freedom from anxiety and fear is found through a close relationship with the Essential Shepherd. It is more than just a knowledge, it is knowing His voice and following obediently. In the summer, the sheep remain in the pasture overnight with the shepherd using his body as a gateway to the fold. This is done to protect the flock from predators. In John 10:7 Jesus announces, “I am the gate for the sheep,” which not only demonstrates His protection but also the only passage to the Father.
Only our Essential Shepherd can restore America’s soul. All we need is to know and follow the voice of the Shepherd.
Now may the God who brought us peace by raising from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ so that he would be the Great Shepherd of his flock; and by the power of the blood of the eternal covenant. Hebrews 13:20 (TPT)