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This Week's Devotional
I want to consider one of the most beloved passages of scripture
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." (Psa 23:1-6)
We often see this metaphor in scripture that we are like sheep and the Lord is our shepherd. The author of this Psalm is David, he knew something about being a shepherd from his days as a youth, long before becoming a king. He understood the needs of the sheep and the cares of being a shepherd. In this Psalm, David sees himself in need of the great Shepherd and explains the care that is available to him as one of His sheep. We too can find help from the shepherd.
First, there is the Shepherds Presence. He is with each one who has put their faith in His Son Jesus Christ. We can also say “the Lord, my shepherd.” David didn’t say He was the shepherd of nations of multitudes but MY shepherd. This is personal and intimate, David continues, I shall not want. There is no area of need He cannot meet. Remember Philippines 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” David continues describing God’s provision of physical, emotional and spiritual needs in verse 2-3.
Secondly, there is the Shepherds Protection described in verse 4. He mentions the “valley of the shadow of death.” To the believer death is but a shadow and shadows can’t hurt you. The shadow of dog can’t bite and the shadow of sword can’t kill neither can the shadow of death destroy. Praise the Lord! You will also notice that we “walk through” this valley, we don’t stay there. Like you walk across a porch to get into the house. We are not walking in the valley but through it. That shadow of death will not impede our progress one bit. I will not dread that last enemy instead I will look upon him as a conquered foe, an enemy to be destroyed, “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” 1 Cor. 15:26 Even as we walk through this valley of the shadow of death, “ thou are with me.” This may be the sweetest part of the whole Psalm to me. We are never alone, ever! The Lord is with us, he “will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Heb. 13:5-6. One commentator has said, only the Lord can lead a man through death; all other guides turn back, and the traveler must go on alone. The Lord will go with us, what a wonderful thought. Thy rod and staff they comfort me David writes. We have the rod of God’s Word and the sturdy staff of God’s Holy Spirit to comfort us.
Thirdly, there is the Shepherd’s Provision in verses 5-6. Here the metaphor changes to that of the Shepherd being a host. He will supply as a gracious host even in the most difficult times of life. In the presence of enemies or maybe we could think of it as impending danger, the Shepherd turns threats of danger into triumph. There is a well-set table, festive oil and brimming cup. This can only be described as wonderful blessings even in the light of turbulent times. In verse 6, we see the Shepherd keeps his promises until the end. His goodness and mercy are ever-present. The word translated “mercy” means loving kindness or steadfast love. It follows us all the days of our life and we can never shake it. Remember, if we are His child, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. John Newton, the writer of the song Amazing Grace said on his death bed, “I now dwell in the land of the dying but soon I will be in the land of the living.” And the Lord our shepherd will go with us every step of the way.