The twenty-third Psalm is one of the most favorite Psalms. I believe that David, who was the writer of this Psalm, meant for us to appropriate the truths of this powerful Psalm in our everyday life. David says "the Lord is my shepherd." Here, David is acknowledging the fact that he is the Lord’s sheep. David, who was a shepherd himself, knew very well what it meant to be a shepherd. A shepherd’s life revolved around the care of his sheep. When others would be asleep in their comfortable homes, shepherds would sleep out in the field, where they could watch their sheep. The sheep did not need to worry about food, shelter, or protection from their enemies, because the shepherd took care of all that. A sheep’s survival depends on the shepherd, because a sheep cannot defend itself. Almost all other kinds of animals have some form of defense at their disposal. They can run, bite, or use their horns, while others use camouflage or special poison. However, sheep have none of these abilities and are very slow. If a sheep is left alone, it will not last very long. The shepherd, knowing this, stays close to his sheep, to protect and provide for them. If a sheep wanders away by itself, it is inviting trouble and is sure to face danger, sooner or later.
In order to be protected by the shepherd, they need to stay close to him. In other words, just as the shepherd is responsible for protecting and providing for the flock, the sheep is responsible for staying in the flock, closer to the shepherd. Here, we see many truths illustrated: First of all, if David, who lived before Christ, could say that the Lord was his shepherd, how boldly can we, the redeemed, say this. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd…" (John 10:11,14). The Bible says that we are not our own, because we are bought with a price (I Cor. 6:19,20). Oh, what a price Christ paid! It was not silver or gold that He paid, but His own precious blood. Jesus shed every drop of His blood on the cross of Calvary, to redeem us from the penalty of sin. So, we should let all the world know to whom it is that we belong. He is not only the good shepherd; He is also the gentle shepherd who carries the lambs in His bosom, and leads those that are with young (Isa. 40:11). The Lord is also called the great shepherd, who is able to make us perfect in every good work, to do that which is well pleasing in His sight (Heb. 13:20,21). Second of all, just as sheep are unable to survive on their own, it is true for us, as humans. No matter how powerful, clever, sophisticated, and/or self-sufficient one may feel, there comes a time when one is faced with frailty of life and must learn that our abilities are simply not adequate. Sometimes, we may feel so helpless and hopeless. As a nurse, I have seen this scene repeated again and again in the lives of many, when they are faced with a tragedy such as terminal illness or unexpected loss of a loved one. They are very troubled inside and have no peace, but those who know the shepherd can draw strength from Him and experience His peace, because He is the source. Third of all, just as sheep need to be in the flock, walking closer to the shepherd for their protection and provision, it is important for us, as Christians, to belong to a fellowship where Christ is honored and preached. The enemy always looks for a lonely sheep to attack, because it is very difficult to attack sheep in groups. If an enemy attempted to prey on a certain sheep in a flock, his presence would easily be detected by neighboring sheep, attracting the attention of the shepherd. Needless to say, the enemy will quickly be apprehended. Many read Psalm 91 when faced with danger. If we meditate on the promises of this Psalm, we can soon find out to whom these promises are made. The first verse says, "He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." In order to be under the shadow of something, we need to stay close to it. Therefore, if we take the responsibility to stay close to Jesus, our shepherd, He will protect and provide for us. He has already done his part, and, as long as we do our part, we can say emphatically, "The Lord is my shepherd!" Then David adds, "I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1b). Here, we see the Divine provision. David means, "I shall not lack anything." God is the God to all because He is the Creator of all, but when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we become the children of God. The apostle John wrote, "He was in the world and the world was made by Him, and the world did not know Him… but as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:10,12). That means God becomes our Father, and from then onwards, all our problems become His concern. As a parent, I try to provide the best for my children; that is, what I know are necessary for them: food, shelter, clothes, education, etc. That means if I feel something is not edifying or good for them, I will not give it to them. As human parents, if we try to provide for our children, how much more will our loving heavenly Father provide for us the things that we need? Our responsibility is to ask for the things that we need and to glorify His name (Matthew 7:7, James 4:2). The Bible says, "…no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11). That means I shall not lack that which the shepherd knows I need. The Bible says sometimes we ask and do not get because we ask so that we may consume it upon our lusts (James 4:3). There are three kinds of lusts that are mentioned in the Bible: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:16). That was how the first couple sinned (Genesis 3:6). Since almost all sins fall in one of these three categories, when we ask for something, if it is not a need according to His will, we may not receive it. We have His promise that if we abide in Him and His word abides in us, whatever we ask, it shall be done (John 15:7). In Genesis 22:6-14, God was Abraham’s Jehovah-Jireh (meaning "God will provide"). The secret was that Abraham gave up his own plan for himself and his family and followed God’s leading (Genesis 12:1-5). In the same way, when we make Jesus as our shepherd and Lord, He becomes our Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord our Provider. David said, "…there is no want to them that fear Him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing" (Psalm 34:9-10). Then again he said, "I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psalm 37:25). Like David and thousands of others who trusted God as their provider, I know Him as my provider. That is the reason that I am writing this. As a young girl growing up with no hope for a better future, I came to know Him as my Savior, Lord, and Shepherd. From then onwards, my future took a new direction - a direction with meaning and purpose. I did not know what was ahead, but I said, "Lord, you lead me and be my shepherd, because I do not know where this journey will lead me or what I have to face." Oh, I am so glad that I did. Once I yielded to Him and accepted His guidance regardless of the circumstances, there was joy at the end. Since he knows the future and directs me step by step, I can look back and say that all the pieces of the puzzle fell in place so far. Sometimes I did not understand why things were happening or going in a certain way, but I had to "be still and know that He is God." If I had tried to work out things my way, I would have certainly failed. How glad I am that I allowed Him to sit on the throne of my life and reign! Because of that, I now can say, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." (That is, I shall not want spiritual, physical, emotional, financial, or any other needs.) I pray that God will enable you to make Him the Shepherd of your life (if you have not already) and let Him have total control of your life. The Word of God says in II Corinthians 9:8, "God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." By R. S. Peter
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