Sunday, January 15, 2017

The fullness of the Shepherd's care

Psalm 23 – the latter half

The claim of faith in verse one covers all situations – “I shall not want” . Then the song gives detail of the shepherd  meeting the needs of his flock.

I would like to continue from my previous article, giving the application to our great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 In verse 4 , we see the treasure of His presence. As Moses said “If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence.” This indeed makes life worth living, to have the LORD with us.
Added to the power of His presence is the comfort that he carries the shepherd’s‘tools of trade’ to be effective in the dark valley. The rod and staff give assurance of His protection of the sheep and His ability to control and restore the sheep. Just to remember the Lord Jesus dealing with the enemy in His life on earth is comforting, but to know He has been given all authority for today is even better. In the valley experiences of life we can trust Him.

There are enemies. Just as David risked his life to rescue the sheep from the lion, so our Lord Jesus Christ well understands the enemy of our souls. He able to keep.  But He is more interested in providing good wholesome food to strengthen the sheep – “a table spread in the presence of mine enemies” . We do well to feed regularly at the table of His providing so as to nourish our souls and spirits. Let us not despise the heavenly manna( as Israel did). Rather let us show gratitude to the giver by eating thankfully of the word of God.

“You anoint my head with oil” – the little booklet ‘Song of the Syrian Guest’, indicates that at the end of the day, the sheep are counted in and checked for scratches and wounds. It is to these wounds that the shepherd applies the healing balm of olive oil.
After a hot dusty day, the Shepherd gives each sheep refreshment from an overflowing cup. The still waters mentioned earlier in the Psalm were essential, but now the refreshment from the overflowing cup is quite personal.

Now at the end of the song, we have the summary of the Shepherd’s care :
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”
The Shepherd is faithful and consistent in His goodness and abiding love. Not  like an hireling who is only in it for himself. The Shepherd loves the sheep and He loves them unto the end.

The last line of this psalm is special. Instead of the Shepherd leaving the sheep in the sheepfold, He brings them into His dwelling place. This sounds like John 14:1-6 :  “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.”
It is our privilege to enjoy the Lord’s presence now, but oh how much greater it will be to one day bow at His feet in worship, to look upon His brilliant face and be transformed into His likeness!

Note: Much of this Psalm relates to the experiences of David who became the King of Israel. That interpretation is very helpful. I have as a matter of brevity gone directly to the Messianic application of Jesus the great shepherd of the sheep as detailed in the New Testament. May you be blessed by spending much time walking with HIM.

Perhaps you would this Psalm as a wall plaque or one to stand on a sideboard. Send me an email as we make these to give away.

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