One-a-Day...for the Heart: Our Great Shepherd
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake… So many of us have been comforted by David’s beautiful words in Psalm 23. Memorizing it as a small child in Sunday School could well be one of the most valuable things we’ve ever done, for, at the most distressing times in our adult lives, the words echo in our minds and hearts to comfort and strengthen us.
The Lord is our Great Shepherd. The word most commonly used in the Bible for “shepherd” comes from the Hebrew word ra ‘ah, meaning “best friend.” Another term for a shepherd, ro ‘eh tzon, also means “lover of the flock.” A shepherd was not just a responsible overseer; he was a watchman over the sheep and fiercely protected them. David reminds us in Psalm 121 that, my help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber…The Lord will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life. We will probably never realize how many times our Great Shepherd has protected us from danger until we talk to Him in heaven. Some of us will be astounded, I’m sure.
Sheep are wrongly labeled “stupid”. They are not, so take heart. We are the Lord’s people and the sheep of His pasture, but that does not mean we are stupid by any means! Sheep have a strong flocking instinct and do not act independently of one another, knowing that their only protection from predators is to band together and follow the sheep in front of them (from Sheep 101, Susan Schoenian). Ultimately, at the head of the flock, they will be following their shepherd, their protector.
Our safety as Christians lies in staying connected to our Great Shepherd and His Body. We endanger ourselves by wandering away from the flock. This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing. In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning (Hebrews 10:25 TPT). What day? The day of Christ’s return.
It’s time to find our place in the Body of Christ and become an active part of our local churches. Christian friendships can develop into powerful prayer groups, even if only two or three brethren begin agreeing together in prayer. Needs can more easily be met when a small group of believers bears each other's burdens and helps one another. Sheep need four to five other sheep to band together with in order to have the visual link necessary to prevent any of them from becoming agitated and uneasy. Can you readily name four to five other Christian “sheep” you are banded together with who keep you from becoming agitated and uneasy? If not, find some! Our Great Shepherd will help you.
Remarkably, sheep know and recognize faces of other sheep and humans nearly as well as people do, and they have keen senses of hearing, smell, and sight. “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me,” Jesus said in John 10:27. Sheep recognize the voice of a shepherd they can trust as well as the voice of an abusive handler. As we draw closer to the Lord, we become more aware of His voice speaking words of life, encouragement, peace, and guidance to our hearts, while at the same time we learn to discern the enemy’s words of condemnation, guilt, temptation, and death.
The Great Shepherd, our best friend, leads the way. As David or any good shepherd would do, the Lord willingly gave up His life for us that we might enjoy life—eternal life in heaven. Meditate on The Passion Translation of Psalm 23, and rest in His great love and care for you:
Yahweh [God, “I AM”] is my best friend and my shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace near the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me the right path and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
So that I can bring honor to his name.
Even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness,
Fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
You become my delicious feast even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit; You give me all I can drink of you until my cup overflows. So why would I fear the future?
Only goodness and tender love pursue me all the days of my life. Then afterward, when my life is through, I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!
© 2021, Chris Werre