Dear PRCW members and readers of this post: This is a continuation of yesterday’s post on Psalm 23. We left off at: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” We said that death is around the corner for all us. “Man is destined to die once and after that to face the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). But the Lord holds His sheep in the palm of His hand. So that while the world is changing is around us, one thing is always certain: His sheep. They are His possession and no one can snatch them from His hand.
This is why David could also say: “I will fear no evil” That’s protection
“For you are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” That’s faithfulness
Note again how this gets personal for him. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me.” There is never a time where God is not with His sheep.
Romans 8 says “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Also David says “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” That’s hope. Even in the presence of enemies. Life on this earth is like that. But, we are reminded that God is with us in the hard times. The table here means the banqueting table.
“You anoint my head with oil my cup runs over” That’s abundance
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” That’s blessing
Oil in the Bible is used to describe that which is positive and joyful, especially it used for consecration. Even in a crisis, the Lord gives us what we need to be joyful in Him with His anointing oil on us… And our cup runs over. He deals with us in great liberty – He gives us many blessings in abundance. The point is that He deals with us so abundantly that we are to be overjoyed!
“And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever” That’s eternity
As we read in Revelation 21 – sorrow will some day turn to joy…
Tears will be wiped away…
Pain will be no more…
We have a Shepherd who is leading us to that glorious day, just as led all those who have gone before us…
And that brings us back to the opening line: “The Lord is my Shepherd”. How much more personal can you get than this? We need this shepherd more than anything else! He is our life. Without Him, there can only be eternal death and hell.
Let me close this look at Psalm 23 with a short illustration. A few years ago, there was story out of Australia about a lost merino sheep named “Chris” that was found in the Australian scrubland. This silly sheep had almost 90 pounds worth of wool on its body which was about half its body weight and the equivalent of 30 sweaters. According to the newspaper, this sheep set a record for the heaviest fleece with the Guinness World Records.
Merino sheep have to be shorn at least once a year. The process is painless and only takes about ten minutes. But some merinos don’t like it and they’ll run away, which is what happened to Chris. He put himself in great danger. It could have been attacked by wild animals. It also was more susceptible to disease and heat stroke because of its very heavy coat. Because its coat was so large, it had limited mobility and it could have easily starved to death.
This story of Chris the sheep is a great illustration of the importance of belonging to a Shepherd. If you think that you can be your own shepherd by leaving the church or by hiding from the Shepherd, then this is what can happen to you. You put yourself in danger of being eaten by wolves. You can’t take care of your spiritual needs. You need the deep and rich Word of God to be fed from Sunday to Sunday. You can’t look after yourself properly if you try to be shepherd to yourself. Our Good Shepherd knows how to look after us His sheep.
As Christians we don’t belong to ourselves. We belong to Christ. He’s bought us with His own blood. He has made us righteous with His own life. He took on our sin and gave us His perfect righteousness. Our Good Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep. Therefore we can’t ever think that we belong to ourselves and that we can do whatever we want. A price has been paid and Christ holds us as His dear sheep.
He places us His sheep in the church to keep them healthy, to keep us strong with His Word and Spirit. The church is the workshop for His sheep’s health. If we go astray, His Word is what brings us back to Him. It corrects and rebukes. His sheep need this to stay healthy and to keep out the wolves coming in.
Thankfully, there is safety for those who believe in the Shepherd. Is Christ your Shepherd? If He is, praise God! If not, consider that you can’t be your own shepherd. You need Him in order to be truly happy and blessed in this life and into eternity!
In Christ, Pastor Rich Anjema