The Good Shepherd by Jerry.
09-12-2019 Psalm 23
Thursday, September 12, 2019
Psalm 23 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Lord the Shepherd of His People
A Psalm of David.
23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Pasted from <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+23&version=NKJV>
I learned to recite the 23rd Psalm in school during chapel, something that you young'uns likely did not experience. The 23rd Psalm is thus familiar to me. The significance of what David wrote has become more meaningful to me as I have grown older. When I was a boy on the farm, we had sheep. I remember them as smelly and not particularly pleasant to be around. The reason that we quit tending sheep (I had no part in the decision) was that we could not protect them adequately from the predators, dogs mainly. This actually fits the narrative of the psalm because the shepherd of this psalm was constantly alert to the dangers of predators who would seek to kill a member of the flock.
In John 10, Jesus proclaims Himself to be our Good Shepherd. Perhaps you read this as a metaphor. Maybe it is a metaphorical description the Lord gave to Himself. I am coming to see this as more literally true. I have written about this before, but when my wife and I went to Israel, on the day we finally headed to Jerusalem after having spent a few days in Galilee and one traveling south to the Dead Sea, where we also saw Masada. Finally, when we turned to head to Jerusalem, going up from Jericho, we took a highway much like our interstate highways. Part way up the climb from Jericho we took a detour to see a canyon, a narrow defile really. It was deep and winding. Our guide told us that this place was where David was referring to as the valley of the shadow of death. It is a real place. It is in the area where David spent much of his time hiding from King Saul. Thus, the valley of the shadow of death is more than a metaphor. It was a preferred route because it afforded shade and there is water in the bottom of the defile. But there are also many places where bandits could hide, ready to fall upon the unwary. So, this valley that David wrote of is a real place. And it was in an area where we know David hid out, not far from En Gedi.
So too this figure of the Lord being our Shepherd is more than a metaphor. I believe that He truly and specifically watches over each one who is part of His flock. You. Me. Most of the dangers and threats that would come against us were it not for His protection we are never aware of. Our lack of awareness does not mean the threats are not real. Thank You Lord for protecting us from these unseen threats and dangers.
My point today is that when we dig a bit deeper in scripture, we often discover that the things we have seen as only metaphorical or figurative are actually descriptive of a deep reality. Just as the sheep of the desert shepherd's flock are mostly blithely unaware of the alert watchfulness of the shepherd who tends them, we too are mostly unaware of the protection of our Shepherd. That does not negate what He is doing. Today, I am thankful for the watch-care He provides. I am thankful that I am not aware of much of the danger He guards against. I am thankful that Jesus is truly my Good Shepherd, who never tires and never takes a moment off from His post. Jesus watches over you and me, not merely like a shepherd, but as our Good Shepherd.
Father I thank You that I am under the ever-present watch-care of Your Good Shepherd. Thank You that by Him I am protected from dangers, many of which I never know about. Thank You Lord that You are specifically and personally interested in each one who is one of Your flock. Grant me such measure of Your Holy Spirit today Father that I may live as one in whom Your Spirit resides, to Your honor and to Your glory. Let me not test the watchfulness of the Shepherd today but, let Him be ever present. In the name of Jesus may these things be true in me.