We have come to probably the most widely known of David’s psalms. The Lord is my Shepherd too. So let’s see where He takes us today.
The scene David sets in the beginning of this psalm is idyllic. This sheep is well fed, has plenty of water, and a quiet safe place to rest. Everyone wants to be this sheep. But that’s not the whole life of the sheep.
This sheep had to travel a while to reach this place of peace. It even had to travel through the “valley of the shadow of death” along the way. Enemies surrounded the sheep at one time too. Notice that David didn’t say “if” for these events. He said “when” these things happen. And when they happen the sheep is NOT alone.
In “the valley of the shadow of death” the Shepherd is using his rod and staff with the sheep. These tools put up boundaries for the sheep to keep it safe. Sometimes they are used to ‘encourage’ a reluctant sheep to move one way or another. I can just see a sheep standing and staring at a cliff, stuck in a moment of fear when the Shepherd pulls it back away from the edge and gets it going in another direction.
David says the “rod” and “staff” “comfort” him. These tools aren’t soft and snuggly so the sheep can cuddle up to them. They are used for direction and correction and protection. The Shepherd only employs these tools on the sheep when He is giving new directions (pointing them in the way they should go) or correcting a sheep who is trying to wander off. He also uses them as weapons against enemy attack. The “comfort” David is singing about is the comfort that every child feels when they know there are boundaries and what those boundaries are. A child with no rules feels insecure and will act out searching for boundaries. A child who has rules will test them occasionally but will stay within their limits in security. God’s “rod” and “staff” set boundaries for us and give us a feeling of security.
When the enemies surround the sheep the Shepherd is making dinner for it. He is fortifying the sheep. Making sure it has enough fuel to complete the battles it will be facing. He doesn’t let the sheep gorge itself right before the battle because then it would be too sluggish. As the One making the meal, He knows exactly what foods the sheep needs for the tasks ahead. He sets a healthy balanced meal with just the right amount of everything the sheep will need.
For us, those “meals” are often scriptures that He brings to mind to help us stand in times of trouble. I know the book of Psalm was, and often is, that for me. I feed my spirit His truth and comfort when I read the psalms of David. How the Spirit quieted David’s soul even in his darkest moments gives me hope. Reading the promises of God in Jesus’ words is another “meal” I’m often served. I’ll take that diet ANY day!
Another way we are fed is by reading books that are inspired by the Lord or listening to sound teaching from the word. There are a LOT of good books that we can turn to in times of trouble that will help us find the answers we are seeking. Pick carefully though because there are also many books out there that are NOT inspired by the Lord and can make matters even worse. Pray over your selections and let Him guide you. That is Him ‘serving up you meal’ for you.
The end of this psalm is the moment of crossing into eternity with the Lord. This final moment where we dwell in the House of the Lord FOREVER! A time I am looking forward to with eagerness. But between now and then, I will hold fast the David’s final words for my journey. BECAUSE I walk with my Shepherd, “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (verse 6a). Not every moment perfect but perfectly protected in His care. Knowing that He knows the best pastures to stop at along the way and that He is ALWAYS there for me, no matter what I may face.
Thank You Father for being my Shepherd. Thank You for setting boundaries for me. Thank You for knowing just when I need encouragement and what kind I need. Thank You for encouraging me to continue in the task I set out on today. Thank You for giving me ideas that made it easier too! Thank You for letting me be there also to help my children when they need it. Help me be a shepherd for them that leads them back to the BEST Shepherd.