My Bible study group is working through Kay Arthur’s study of Psalms, Praising God through Prayer and Worship, and this week we hit Psalm 23.
Psalm 23 has been commented on maybe more than any other passage, and there is much comfort to be found in the promises of provision and protection. A shepherd is a person, but I looked at “shepherd” more as a verb, to guide.
First, a detour- I got side-tracked in the dictionary… I shall not want. The shades of meaning for want are significant. I shall not be needy or destitute. I shall not feel “need” or even have “need”. I shall not have an independent desire to come and go or be. I shall not have a strong desire for anything else. I shall not put my energy into hunting something with the intention of apprehending it. If the Lord IS my Shepherd, then I don’t want anyone or anything else. He is the source and supplier for everything. In Him there is contentment, rest and peace. To walk away from Him is to trade away those things for cheap, illusory copies.)
So where does He shepherd me?
Green pastures – abundant, easy-to-obtain nourishment. He will lead Me through His Word to feast on the riches of His Truth.
Still waters- Sheep won’t drink running water. He understands my frailties, and graciously works through those.
Restores my soul- He so desires a relationship with me that He will shepherd me through the tough process of repentance and restoration, so that nothing stands between us.
The valley of the shadow of death- First off, it’s a shadow. While it’s the size and shape of death, it’s only a shadow. He’s with me. He’s still leading.
The presence of mine enemies- To prepare the table, He had to get there first, before me. No matter what the enemies have in mind, the Shepherd is one step ahead.
Anointing- Healing, favor, selection, identification, consecration, commissioning… Anointing was used to show all these things.
None of these places is a one time stop-over. We revisit them as often as needed according to the Shepherd’s assessment, timing and purposes. The ultimate destination is the house of the Lord – He will finish the job, and will safely bring us into His eternal presence and glory.
The sheep is not responsible for figuring all this out, for trying to solve all these problems. The Shepherd, who led the sheep there, is the One responsible. He is Shepherding. Am I “sheeping”? I was not made to be a free-agent, but to glorify God through obedience.