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The Good Shepherd 

THe Good Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.’
(psalm 23:1)

Psalm 23 has inspired centuries of awed devotions to the Lord. If Psalms were in the top 40 charts, then Psalm 23 would most definitely find itself in the top 10 – possibly even number 1! Most likely because at its core, deep at the heart of it, its message is one of pure comfort.

In this Psalm, David, who as a boy was a shepherd himself, paints for us a beautiful picture of God as our shepherd. In it he tells us how the Lord leads, feeds, guides, and shields us. He causes us to lie down and rest, and He refreshes and restores our souls. I wonder if you find yourself in need of this today? I do! In truth, on occasions more than I can count in recent weeks, I have found myself in that humble place before God, asking him once again to restore and refresh me anew. And because He is the ‘Good Shepherd’ – He always does.

So, what is the role of a Shepherd? Put plainly, the flock, is first and foremost the focus of the shepherd. He must provide all the basics; food, water, shelter, and protection. He should know what food is good and where to find it in every season. A good shepherd can source water, even in times of drought. Through dangerous terrains, hazardous winds and weathers, mountains hills and plains, he leads and guides the flock to fresh pastures. The Shepherd must train his flock to know and follow his voice. This is in fact his first line of defence. He must know his sheep, being aware of their individual needs. There may be ewes heavy with life, lambs frisky and inexperienced, stubborn rams always up to mischief, or perhaps older members of the flock needing some extra care and attention. It is a relentless task, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. With that in the job spec who would apply for such a role?

Jesus says to us “I am the good shepherd…I sacrifice my life for the sheep.’ (John 10:14,15). Jesus is the shepherd that leaves the ninety-nine in search of the one, and when he finds it, he ‘joyfully puts it on His shoulders’ (Luke 15:5) What a shepherd we have in Jesus! He promises to tend to our every need. He says when you’re hungry I’ll feed you, when you’re thirsty I’ll give you water to drink. He guides us, gently leads us, and assures us that even in our darkest valleys, we need fear no evil, for He is with us.

Psalm 23 tells us that amidst the storms of life ‘he prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies’, not once the troubles have passed, but right there in the midst of our trials and pain we can find relief, blessing and comfort. Imagine this scene – you find yourself at the centre of a battlefield with war raging all around. Horses, chariots and men in chaos. Yet there in the middle of it all, you see a table, laid with the finest wear, boasting the most luxurious feast imaginable, and Jesus your host welcoming you to come and be His guest of honour. This is the invitation from our Good Shepherd to us. A wonderful picture of what it is to find ourselves alone with Him in the midst of all the stresses of life. He is waiting to feed your hunger, quench your thirst, to provide your every need. All we have to do is accept this invitation from our good Shepherd.  

 ‘The Lord is my shepherd’. David’s opening statement of this Psalm is a bold and profound commitment to the Lord as his source of provision, protection and peace. What a confidence, and absolute security David had in his God – ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing’. When we can truly grasp this confident relationship and establish it in our own lives, surely there is a no more comforting place to be. A flock safe in the arms of its Good Shepherd.

Kate Thornton, 28/03/2022