“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
Psalm 23:1-2, NIV
There can be no more encouraging verses of Scripture than these. Psalm 23 is the most well-known of all the Psalms for this very reason – it speaks of comfort and encouragement to men and women at every stage and in every condition of life.
God is unchangeable and cannot ever change His character. His heart is that of a Shepherd for His people and he longs to gather His sheep into His arms and speak to them words of comfort and blessing. Isaiah tell us in 40:11 that “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” This is the heart and character of our loving Creator God.
Then Jesus told the story of the shepherd who had a hundred sheep, but one of them had strayed and was lost – so he left the ninety-nine who were safe and went seeking the lost sheep till he found it. And what joy there was when the sheep that was lost was restored to the flock (Luke 15:1-7).
In all these Scriptures God is not really talking about sheep, He is talking about the people he loves and using sheep as a picture that anyone and everyone can understand, whatever their age and whatever their culture. It is a universal image that speaks to the very core of who we are as human beings. We all have a deep inner need of being loved, nurtured and cared for by our heavenly Father. And He is ready, willing and able!
There are seasons in life when we have different needs, according to the stage of the journey we have been walking through. Sometimes we are in need of rest in the human equivalent of green pastures, lying by still waters. At those times we can take in deeply of his loving provision, while he restores our soul. He wants to re-equip us for the road ahead.
Then He promises to lead us along paths of righteousness – and at that point we will need to exercise our free will and choose to follow in the direction that He is showing us. He is a good Shepherd and will not lead us in a direction that is contrary to His will and purpose for our lives. The heart of the message of these verses is that God can be trusted, so may I encourage you to trust Him now and always.
Prayer:Thank You, Lord, that You are not only a good Shepherd, but You are also My Shepherd. Thank You for your promise to lead me in paths of righteousness. I choose now to follow where You lead as I trust You afresh for every day of the rest of my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.