The Great Shepherd
By Dot Bowen
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV)
For the next four weeks, we will focus on Psalm 23 for the weekly devotion. I hope over the course of the month, you’ll read, meditate, and memorize Psalm 23 if you haven’t already done so.
When I read Psalm 23, I envision David as a young shepherd boy lying on his back, gazing up into heaven, and reflecting on the greatness of God. In reality, David probably penned Psalm 23 much later in life—possibly during the rebellion of his son, Absalom (2 Samuel 13-19). Even though David walked with the Lord, his life was full of painful and difficult circumstances. When he wrote Psalm 23, he wasn’t writing from the perspective of a shepherd king; he wrote as a sheep. During some of his most difficult battles, David knew God as his shepherd—one who loved, protected, and cared for him.
The first few words of Psalm 23 are “The LORD is my ” A shepherd’s responsibility is to protect and provide for his sheep because sheep are one of the most defenseless animals in all of creation. As children of God, we—like sheep—need God to protect and provide for us. And when we face difficult times in our lives, we need to know and believe our God will take care of us. It doesn’t take much for us to recognize how little control we have over the circumstances in our lives. We need a shepherd!
If we put our faith in God, He will lead us down the path He has prepared for us. Sheep cannot be driven like cattle; they must be led. The foundational truth found in Psalm 23 is if we follow the Lord (our shepherd) and trust Him, He will meet our every need no matter what our circumstances are. As a shepherd boy, David guarded and cared for his sheep by leading them and providing food and water for them, and David believed God would do the same for him. His confidence in God as His shepherd allowed him to confidently say, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” This does not mean David was never in need or his life was without difficulties. Quite the contrary! When David said, “I shall not want,” he was referring to being content and satisfied with God as his shepherd even in the midst of adversity.
The same is true for us today. Jesus called himself the “Great Shepherd.” As we follow Him by faith, we can confidently say, “Jesus is my shepherd, I shall not want!” Jesus promised to meet all our needs and we must believe He will. We must learn to trust and have faith in the Lord as our shepherd in such a way that we are confident Jesus will meet our every need. Jesus, The Great Shepherd, gave His life for His sheep. Our God is a loving shepherd who has provided all we will ever need through Jesus. We can confidently call upon Jehovah Jireh, The Lord will provide. Trusting in Jesus as our Shepherd will bring contentment because Jesus is a good shepherd. I will never want any other shepherd than God because He alone satisfies my thirsty soul. When I find myself wanting more, I recognize I have wandered away from my Shepherd!
Further Reading John 10:11; Psalm 23; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4; Philippians 4:19; Genesis 22:14