I have been a shepherd for twenty years.
The longer I care for my sheep and goats, the more I understand why God put His leaders through this school of discipleship.
Many days it’s a thankless job-my charges often do foolish things that place them in peril, they work hard to tear down the fences I’ve erected for their safety and they wander away forcing me to chase after them and bring them home.
But I never give up on them.
A shepherd’s heart is revealed in how she (or he) takes care of the weakest animals.
I cannot lay my head down at night without taking mental inventory to make sure they are safe, secure and well cared for through the darkness until morning dawns afresh.
David spent years and years in “shepherd school”.
It prepared him to fight Goliath.
It molded his heart to lead God’s people.
The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always.Psalm 23: 1-4 VOICE
2 He provides me rest in rich, green fields
beside streams of refreshing water.
He soothes my fears;
3 He makes me whole again,
steering me off worn, hard paths
to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name.
4 Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness,
I am not overcome by fear.
Because You are with me in those dark moments,
near with Your protection and guidance,
I am comforted.
I could write for days on what these verses mean to my own heart. I could tease out dozens of lessons from the picture David paints of tender care, abundant mercy, amazing love.
But the one thing I’ll share now is this: I never, ever, ever abandon my flock.
If all I had was a stick and my voice, I’d fight off every enemy.
I am never too busy nor too distracted to tend to their needs. I never forget to feed them, water them, check on them and call them home in the evening.
They know my voice.
They follow me because I am trustworthy. They allow me to tend their wounds because I am gentle. They come running to me when they are afraid because they know I am a fierce defender.
If I-a mere, fallible, fragile mortal-am this concerned about my little flock, imagine how our Good Shepherd cares for us!
Don’t rush over these verses because they are familiar.
Go back, read them again.
Know that the Lord God loves you.
He LOVES you.
He loves YOU.
- Do you remember the first time you encountered this Psalm? Does it hold a special memory?
- How has the Lord given you rest in the midst of weariness?
- How has God provided necessities for you?
- What does it mean to you that Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd? Read that passage in John 10 and notice how He defines what a good shepherd looks like. How might that encourage your heart when walking in this Valley of the Shadow of Death?
- I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to find an old, lame or nearly blind goat or sheep that wandered off and got lost. I do what it takes to bring them home. No matter how far you wander, Jesus is coming to get you. Can you relate a time when Jesus reached out in a special way and helped you make it back home?
- What do you need from your Shepherd today? Ask Him for it.
You ARE the Good Shepherd. You love me. You care for me. You lead me to places of rest when I am overcome with weariness. You walk beside me and offer refuge when I am afraid.
This grief journey is hard. Sometimes I wonder if You are really here or if You have abandoned me. Help me hear Your voice. Help me run to You for safety.
Teach me to follow You always, even when You lead me in dark places and I’m fearful. Thank You for leaving us with a beautiful picture through David’s words of Your heart.
Lead on, O Precious Shepherd. Lead on!