The Shepherd's Psalm —Part (iii)
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Perhaps you can imagine the scene. In the far distance, the sun shines over the misty blue mountains. Below them lie the upland moors covered with deep rich purple heather and golden yellow gorse. Immediately in front of us, and just beyond the field gate on which you and I are leaning, is a beautiful verdant pasture.
The grass is lush and wild flowers grow in colorful array. If we stand quietly, we can hear above the soft rustle of the wind, the musical drone of the honey bees as they gather nectar from delicate blooms.
About five hundred yards away, the cool, clear waters of a river flow serenely and silently towards the distant sea.
A little flock of sheep, some with lambs, lie peacefully undisturbed near the river's edge. If we were to look at them through our binoculars, we would see them gently chewing their cud as they draw nourishment from the abundant provision of fresh food. They surely are the picture of contentment and tranquillity. This is something like the picture that Psalm 23 calls to my mind.
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters." (Psalm 23:2)
Why are the sheep in our little scene so peaceful, so content, so unruffled as they enjoy the warmth of the afternoon sun?
I think my shepherd friend, Johnny Crawford, would tell us that a flock such as we have described are free from fear, have enough to eat and are not plagued with parasites. If we remove any one of these conditions the sheep will not be at peace.
Has not God given us a lovely picture in Psalm 23 of the condition of His believing people? In Psalm 95:7, we read "For He is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand." Every good shepherd will care for his flock, removing the sheep from danger, providing medical treatment to prevent parasites and ensure sufficient food to keep them strong and healthy.
Our "Good Shepherd" has done so much more for His flock than the best of earthly shepherds. To start with He says to us in John 10:11, "I am the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep". He paid the ultimate price to purchase His flock and to deliver them from the fear of eternal death. "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).
In Christ our shepherd we have all we need for eternity. When we realize that "I am His and He is mine", fears quickly diminish and should fade away. When the Shepherd is present the wolf will seek some other prey. We need not fear man or devil, even if they kill us we shall live with Him.
If we are aware of His divine presence we will find food abundant for our souls and our spirits will rejoice in the Bread of Life, for He feeds us with food sufficient for our requirements. This He does as we seek to feed on His word and to find Him there. We can, with the Shulamite maiden experience the bounty of His hand. Listen to her words, "He brought me into the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love." (Song of Solomon 2:4) My friends let us feat on the good things of His word as we bask in the sunshine of His love.
"He leadeth me beside the still waters." Sheep like human beings need more than food to live; both need water if they are to survive. In Revelation 21:6, we read, "And He said to me, 'It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts'."
What is the water of life? The Lord Jesus when speaking to the woman of Samaria told her of "living water" which if a person drank he or she would never thirst again. "But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:14).
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah talks about that water in Isaiah 12:2,3 "Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths." And the Lord Jesus Christ explains its meaning for us in John 7:37-39, "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."
We see then that the water is the Holy Spirit whom we receive by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ the Great Shepherd. The Holy Spirit is needed to give life to those who are dead in sin. He is God's agent in the new birth as we are told in John 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit". And it is His presence that sustains eternal life in all those who come by faith to the Lord Jesus for Salvation. It is He who enables us to become true disciples of the one who loved us unto death; the good shepherd who gave His life for the sheep.
If you and I are truly united by faith to the great Shepherd we can enjoy peace greater and more beautiful than any earthly scene. No matter what our material blessings or lack of them we have a peace that passes all understanding, food that nourishes for eternity and water that quenches the thirst for satisfaction in a way the broken cisterns of earth cannot satisfy.
To know this Shepherd is to love Him, and to love Him is to know Him in a way that can only be experienced by His flock. We will close this part of our studies with His gracious invitation as it is found in Isaiah 55:1-3a "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live."
Can you afford to reject this lovely overture of love and mercy? If you are one of His sheep, does not the knowledge of His love thrill your heart and cheer your spirit?
Jack Scott loved his Lord! He passed away on January 10, 2001 after a lengthy illness.
He is missed greatly by his family.
Next "Walking in the Old Paths" > The Shepherd Psalm--Part (iv) >
Back to < "Walking in the Old Paths Index" <