Dear members of PRCW and readers of this post: It feels eerie out there doesn’t it? Where can we find rest? Where can we find security?
Where do we turn? Where do we look for help?
We all want support and to be supportive of others. But we don’t need one another ultimately.
We need a Shepherd.
Psalm 23 is one of those stand-by passages that people turn to in times of grief and trouble. Everyone loves it. Everyone feels entitled to it. Even in our day, many people still know and love these words, even if they don’t know much about the Bible or don’t know the Lord in a saving way. Why is that? It’s because these are beautiful words. They’re soothing, pastoral, comforting, uplifting and they offer a lot of hope.
Yet it’s not just a ‘feel-good’, sentimental Psalm. It’s personal.
It also provides us a lot of strength in these uncertain times.
Just consider the opening. The Lord is my Shepherd. That’s about relationship. David didn’t say, “The Lord is THE shepherd”. He didn’t say “the Lord is the shepherd of other people.” No, it gets personal for him. He is MY shepherd. He means, of course, the only Shepherd that will truly help us in times of trial and through death: the Lord Jesus Christ. If you want to die peacefully and with assurance of heaven, you need Jesus as your Shepherd. You need to be able to say “the Lord is My Shepherd.
David also says “I shall not want”. That’s supply. Christ is the one who does this for us He feeds us, He gives life to us, He watches over us, He leads us and the list could go on and on. He does so much for us!! As Psalm 84:11 says, “No good does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Or as Paul says in Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
He is a Shepherd who provides life for you soul. And He is the resurrection and the life.
What else does the Shepherd do? “He makes me to lie down in green pastures.” That’s rest. Have you ever felt alone? Have you ever been troubled by your health? Have you ever worried? If you have, the Lord is your Shepherd, He gives rest. He makes us lie down in green pastures – literally ‘fresh grass’. He gives nourishment for His sheep, through the Bible, His Word.
It is the same thought with the next phrase: “He leads me beside the still waters.” That’s refreshment. The Good Shepherd cried out at one time in His public ministry, saying: “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37, 38).
What comfort He is, especially at times like this, when our hearts are tender…. The Lord uses these times to remind us a fresh reminder about what really matters in life – what should matter the most to us. We need Christ. We need the life that He supplies. We need His protection, His rest, His refreshment, His healing, His guidance.
“He restores me soul.” That’s healing. As sheep, we are prone to stray from the path He has called us to walk in. There are diversions. The world always entices us. Or the desires of the old nature lure us to separate ourselves from the Shepherd. Satan is always ready to pick off straying sheep. He is ready to pounce on us. Our own sin leads us astray…
But how can we be restored? Restoration is found in Christ Himself. As Isaiah says “All we like sheep have gone astray.” But Christ has taken us sinners and healed us through His stripes. So restores us through His death on the cross for our sins.
And because of His restoration for us we can say that “He leads me in the paths of righteousness” That’s guidance. He keeps on the right path. Our lives are like traveling on a trip. Sometimes we don’t know the way. The curves in the road are sharp. The storms and trials of life can be hard. But when we walk on the right path, we are kept by our Shepherd. That path is one of trusting the Lord and praying to Him in His name. You can be guaranteed a safe journey through life when you walk with the Lord.
And then there is this verse: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” That’s testing. Going through the highways of life doesn’t guarantee that we will not face some kind of trouble. We will not be spared of the harsh realities. Death is around the corner for all of us. “Man is destined to die once and after that to face the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Neither is anything secure in this world. Our plans are uncertain, whether it is plans for a wedding, plans for an anniversary celebration, plans for expanding our business. Elective surgeries are being cancelled.There is the inability to visit loved ones in senior residences or nursing homes.
Yet there is one thing that is certain and that is salvation in Jesus Christ.
Thankfully we are in the grip of God’s hands as Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27, 28). Let us rest assured in that wonderful knowledge! And continue to uphold one another in prayer!
In Christ, Pastor Rich Anjema