We have obtained liberty but it does not stop there... he also cares for us through our lives daily. He is the great Shepherd who watches over us. He is the one who feeds us with physical manna as well as spiritual manna.
1 Peter 5.6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Here we have David, the king of Israel, speaking in terms not as a lion of Judah but as a lamb of God. He was a shepherd before a being a king. He understood what it takes to care for a flock and manage those under him, as a shepherd to his flock. David himself understood that he also needs to be be a lamb in the presence of God if he wishes God to care for him as well.
In our relationship with God all of us need to understand that we are the sheep and if we humble ourselves as David humbled himself then the great Shepherd of our souls will likewise care for us as well. We also should care for others under our charge as a shepherd to a flock. When we do so...
Phillipians 4.19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Spiritually all that the Lord has in heaven is available to meet your needs and this He freely gives to those who follow His voice. It is also true that; the earth is the Lord's and everything in it. If God above gave us His Son how much more will He give to those who love Him, those who humble themselves as a lamb to his shepherd?
One of the great psalms... spoken often at the grave site of those who pass beyond the vale to be with our Lord. Yet understand that this psalm is not meant for the dead but for the living. It is here on this earth, during our life, that we need the shepherd to care for us. Here is a picture of how God cares for you.
A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
Remember when I wrote about the If... Then statement. This holds true for those who want to find themselves under the care of God's hand. God resists the proud but draws near to those who are humble. David proclaims that God is his shepherd. This is his faith statement and reveals to us the heart of David. Even though he is king of Israel he also knows that without God's care he is nothing and on his own. That it is God himself who causes him to stand or fall.
If we will make the same statement of faith and humble ourselves before our great king... If we stop planning and scheming to attain advantage... If we will calm ourselves and follow His lead... Then He will clothe himself with the mantle of a shepherd and come watch over us. It is then that as a shepherd He takes responsibility to care, guard, feed, water, shelter the flock so that the flock may prosper.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
In your eyes is the grass greener on the other side of the fence? Do you see the fence as an obstacle that needs to be overcome to get the prize of the rich field? Many times I have climbed over the fence to get to a place that I thought was better to only find that in the end it is no better than where I came from. Before long I find another fence with another promising field and work again at overcoming the obstacle to gain the prize, yet once again, find it no better.
It is the great shepherd who knows the location of the best pastures. He knows exactly what His sheep need to prosper. He calls to His own and His own recognize His voice and will follow Him. It is only then that you will find yourself in rich pastures filled with pleasant grass.
David also talks about still waters. For rafting, canoeing and other fun activities rapids add excitement but fast flowing water also has its dangers. This is why sheep and deer do not drink from turbulent rivers. It is only when the water is still that they will drink from it. The Holy Spirit within us is as a bubbling well. His waters come from below and fills the space creating a pond or lake within a person, our reservoir. In our lives we drink in this water to refresh our spirits. Our shepherd will lead us to those places where still waters, ever refreshing, can be taken without danger.
When these two things are present in abundance, it is then that...
3 He restores my soul;
This is the care with which He gives us. He wants to restore your soul so that you will be able to become the person that He envisions. If, or should I say... When this is done...
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
First let me say why He leads. Certainly one of the reasons for leading us is so that we can become all that we can be. He loves us so much that He laid down His life for us. Yet, there is a higher reason for leading us as He does... For His name's sake. We who are the sheep of His fold are God's evidence of His goodness, mercy and grace. It is a matter of God's honour and word that His sheep are cared for. This is the witness He gives to the world today and is the testimony of the saints. God is... and He cares!
If you follow His lead then you will walk in the paths of righteousness. You were fed with the manna that came from heaven. You have the water of life filling your inner most being. Now it is the time that you walk in the strength that the Lord has given you. Time to do the good works that the Lord has established for His saints to do which works were laid out at the foundation of the world. It is your responsibility to follow. Why?... for His name's sake!
4 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.
In some ways it can be said that the earth itself is the valley of the shadow of death. It is here that people are caught between this present life and death. Yet for the saved we know that we have eternal life waiting for us. We have hope while walking here below. As the Lord leads we will travel this globe to some degree and do the works and give the testimony that God cares.
There are also some locations that are even worse to travel in for the enemy has taken the region and has become a stronghold. Yet even there we will not fear any evil or the devices set against us. Why?... For you are with me.
Recall that the children of Israel left Egypt and pharaoh and his army trapped the children of Israel at the Red Sea. What did the shepherd of Israel do? He became a pillar of fire by night and a cloud of darkness by day separating the two camps. Here is the work of the shepherd in their lives. This is also the work of the shepherd in your life today. No one can snatch you out of His hand.
The psalmist declares... "your rod and staff comfort me." Do you know that the rod is used for the backs of animals that threaten the sheep. The wolf, bear and lion receive the blows. We can take comfort knowing that the Lord is always watching over us armed and ready to do battle. All that is necessary for us to do is stay near the shepherd and remain under his protection. What of the staff? That is for the sheep. For with one end he taps the sheep into the direction they should be going and with the other he uses the crook of the staff to pull us back from danger. It is comforting to know that our shepherd is an expert in the use of the rod for the enemy and the staff for our help.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence
of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Our great shepherd will show to the enemy of God that we are His chosen people, His prize flock, by even providing for us an abundance of the good things we need to prosper right in front of them. Our table is prepared and laid out with all the good things that come from His hand. He anoints our heads with oil and proclaims the blessing upon us. So much so that our cup runs over with the provisions of God. This for a testimony against the enemy. That our God not only redeems His people but cares for their every need.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
It is all for His name's sake and because He loves us. As the Lord leads and we follow goodness and mercy follow us wherever we travel, wherever we rest, wherever we work, even in the presence of our enemies. We shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever even as the Spirit of God dwells in us forever.
May the Shepherd of your souls keep watch over you always and make this psalm a reality in your life.
26 December, 1999
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