PSALM 23:1: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Each year, as I read through the Bible, when I come to Psalm 23, I pause, pray, and ask the Lord to show me something new or something that I need to focus on as I read this all too familiar chapter. It is easy to anticipate each word, each verse, of a chapter that you are so familiar with and that you have even memorized. However, as I read this chapter today I was stopped at the first five words – “The Lord is my shepherd.” Then it hit me…
I AM A SHEEP!
I think sheep get a bad rap for being dumb animals. I did some reading on sheep and they are really quite intelligent in their own way. Wild sheep have become adept at living on their own. However, we are not likened to wild sheep. We are called the sheep of His pasture. We are referred to as domesticated sheep that were raised for their wool production, meat, and milk. I am this kind of sheep.
Here is something interesting that I read.
“Without a shepherd, sheep are prone to wandering off from the flock and there’s a reason for this. Naturally, sheep are hotwired to follow each other. If you take a chance and observe their movement you’ll see this. The paths they follow are usually winding. They do this so they can see ahead and behind them. They can’t help it! It’s just an inbuilt instinct in their brains that cannot be changed.” (FarmingBase)
Domesticated sheep need someone to lead them. They are dependent on a shepherd guiding them to pasture, water, and safety. Left to themselves, by instinct they will wander away and get lost. They will start following each other. It will be the blind leading the blind. The weak will become easy prey for predators and they will find themselves without the food and care that they need.
I AM A SHEEP!
Now, here is the thought that shook me to my core. As a sheep, a human sheep, I have been given the freedom to choose the shepherd that I will follow. It is not whether or not I will choose to have a shepherd. The real question is who will my shepherd be? Here are my choices.
- The Lord
- The enemy (the hireling)
- My peers
Remember, it is the sheep’s instinct to follow themselves. A sheep in the middle of the flock is not aware of who the shepherd is. I feel that so many in our culture are merely following the bleating of the culture. They think they are moving toward some grand awakening and yet they are lost traveling in circles. They think they are carving out their own destiny. Yet, they are simply following others who are blind and heading toward a cliff.
The other extreme is to follow a false shepherd. In essence, even when we follow ourselves we are following the bidding of THE false shepherd – Satan. Jesus made it very clear that there are only two pathways or shepherds to follow.
- “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.” John 10:10-12 NKJV
The Good Shepherd cares about His sheep. He will lay down His life for the sheep. His entire objective is to bring them life and life abundantly. This is what Jesus, our Good Shepherd desires to do in our life. All you have to do is read the remaining verses of Psalm 23! Yet, Jesus does not force us to follow Him. He invites us to choose Him to be our shepherd. We have a choice! Let’s look at the other choice.
The enemy of our souls, Satan, is the false shepherd. He is like a hired shepherd who is not connected to the sheep. His only objective is his own personal gain. He does not care for the sheep. At the first sign of trouble – he is out of there! And, perhaps more insidious than this – he is the mastermind behind the trouble and plot to destroy our lives. Jesus makes it very clear – “The thief does not come except to steal, to kill, and to destroy…”
The most insidious lie the false shepherd weaves is that we don’t need a shepherd. We can be our own shepherd. We don’t need anyone. And, as we blindly go on our merry way we don’t even see the false shepherd leading us toward our demise!
No one on their own will choose Jesus as their shepherd. It takes the grace of God to lead us to salvation. God is calling us to Himself through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. When I recognize my sin and my need for a Savior (Shepherd), His grace gives me the gift of receiving Jesus as my Good Shepherd.
- “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13 NKJV
To choose Jesus as our Shepherd is God’s saving grace at work in our life. He is knocking at the door of every heart. He is inviting all who will, to come to Him. When we recognize that we are but sheep in need of a shepherd (repentance), God’s saving grace is poured out upon us and Jesus becomes our Good Shepherd. It is then, and only then, that we, along with David can proclaim…
- “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
- “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 NKJV
I AM A SHEEP! Jesus, shepherd me I pray!
In Jesus Name!