Monday, August 25, 2008

The Lord is my shepherd

Psa. 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Probably one of the best known verses in scripture, this first verse of the twenty-third psalm has many truths in it that we do injustice to when we simply skim over the verse and don't take much time to meditate on it. First off we see who it is that is doing the shepherding, it is the Lord. What we need to remember is that "the Lord" is not God's name it is his title, when we say that the Lord is our shepherd we are in essence saying that we admit that God is the Lord of our life. It is not simply God as our Father, or Savior, although both of those are true descriptions of him, it is God as our King, Captain, and Lord. Secondly, David admits that God is his shepherd. While this statement probably causes us to conjure up images of a very feminine and European looking Jesus, carefully watching over some sheep in a green pastures; anyone that has ever had sheep or goats knows that those animals are rarely content to stay in that green pasture. It would almost seem as if they were bent on their own destruction, they are forever wandering close to cliffs and precipices and places that can mean nothing but danger. The shepherd has to lead them away from those places time and time again, always patient and loving. I am so much like those sheep so often, I wander into a place in my life that will lead me into nothing but trouble, and God in all his mercy and long suffering leads me back to the paths of safety. I think of the hymn "Come thou fount", I can always relate to the last verse where it says "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love". The christian life isn't always those peaceful green pastures, many times we ignore the shepherd's call and then expect him to bail us out when we fall over that cliff. Every time he leaves the ninety-nine to find the one that has gone astray. Admitting that the Lord is our shepherd means acknowledging that there will be times when we don't want to go where he wants to lead us, it is those times that we must remind ourselves that we are but sheep, and we can do nothing but listen to the shepherd's voice and follow where he leads. Because many time he will lead us through rocky canyons in order to bring us to the greenest pastures.
Lastly note that the psalmist says he will never want, that word want does not mean he will never desire anything, it means he will never be without the things he really needs. The New Testament tells us that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. The grass often looks greener on the other side of the fence, but the good shepherd always knows which grass is best for us. Sometimes what we think we need God knows we don't, and once again we have to learn to give in to the shepherd's will and rest in the fact that he will always give us what we need, which is often the opposite of what we want. The Lord is our shepherd, and we will never lack, but don't think that means he'll give you everything you want, when you want it. Imagine if sheep were simply given everything they ever wanted, it would ultimately lead to their demise. So we too, would destroy ourselves if left to our own devices.
Trust in the good shepherd, even when the hardest thing to do is trust, especially when the hardest thing to do is trust, and you will never lack.

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