Have you ever thought you knew what was best for someone? Whether it was as a parent, as a sibling, or as a friend. Sometimes we think we know something, and then God steps in as a Shepherd to show us the complete picture, revealing what’s really best. Trusting God and situations is much easier when we can see the whole perspective. He wants us to rest in Him and trust Him.
David writes this psalm with new trust in God and affirms it in the first few words, “The Lord is MY Shepherd, I lack nothing.” It’s all about perspective. It’s about how we view God as our strength, comforter, leader, and protector.
It’s very personal. There’s no we, us, or they in it – only my and me. The relationship we have with God IS personal. No one understands that connection and relationship better than us.
Others can have empathy and care, but they can’t give you the answers to get you to the other side of what you are facing. Psalm 23 shares how we, the powerless sheep, are tended to by an unfailingly careful and loving Shepherd.
God is our Strength
He restores our souls; He gives us new strength. David knew he needed the renewing power of God. David also knew he had it all, but sometimes when we think we have it all, we forget our need for God. So when Nathan confronted David with his sin, it was God who David said restored His soul.
When we fall, God picks us up.
God lifts us up when our load is heavy, when our burden is so great that we can't even lift our heads up. In our weakness is when God comes to renew our strength.
There will be times in our lives when we need more strength than others. Sometimes we can coast, thinking we are doing a good job with the energy we have. But ever hit that afternoon slump? We grab a cup of coffee, an energy drink, or a sugary treat and think we are good to go.
If we do not realize that the strength we need to sustain what we need in life is from Him, we are missing a big part of who God is and why we need Him daily – why we (the sheep) need our Shepherd.
God is our Comfort
We might not always feel comforted when we go through times that require us to rely on Him. We might be in a situation where we can’t see the end, the other side, or what God is doing. Those times are hard, but our comfort in those times always comes from Him.
God restores our souls. It’s beyond just nourishment. It is peace, rest, safety, and comfort. A Sabbath rest is vital for restoring our souls. But how many of us genuinely Sabbath? What distractions or things do we encounter that keep us from stopping or slowing down?
God leads us to green pastures and still waters, but He doesn’t make us eat or drink. He leads us to the good things, but how do we still miss out on them? We think we know better. We are stubborn or afraid.
God knows our limits. As His sheep, we rarely know our limits. We’ve all thought we could do something on our own, only to find out that we can’t. For example, ever order a piece of furniture that shows up in a million pieces? We think we can put it together, only to find out the opposite is true. What about being in control of family, friends, or finances? We have so much worry about those areas in our lives.
The exhaustion, frustration, weariness, and disappointment set in.
Sometimes our pride gets in the way of admitting we need help. When we exceed our limits, we might take it out on others, but it’s no one else’s fault when we exceed our limits because it is our job to keep that in check.
Our paths might not always be easy, and we might not even be the ones making choices that lead us on those particular roads, but He has paved the path we are on for a reason, and He knows why we need to be on it. Seeking His will and path is putting our agendas and ideas aside to do what He calls us to.
With God as our provider, we will lack NOTHING!
Sometimes we unexpectedly may come to the deepest, darkest valley of all, the valley of the shadow of death. But even there, the Shepherd is with us. God’s rod and staff represent His strength and protection over us. The rod conveys the concept of authority, power, discipline, and defense of the sheep. The staff symbolizes all that is long-suffering and kind.
God is our Leader and Protector
Verse 4 talks about times of crisis and a deepening between David and God. In these times of trouble or lament, we draw closer to Him.
What does it look like to let Him lead and protect?
We talk about God when things are good.
We talk to God when times are hard.
We wander in pursuit of green pastures.
We cling to Him in times of trouble.
It means we trust Him (In ALL things).
God never forgets us. Even when we think He is silent or not there, He always is. Similar to how he was with David. We are impatient people that do not like to wait. So, when we think He’s not there, it’s because we might not like the answer He’s giving or the pace at which we get the answer. So, when we are in times of trouble, our instinct is to fix it ourselves or run away.
We must praise God for who He is and what He’s done. God protects, comforts, guides, and blesses. We have to surrender our pride and control to acknowledge Him as those things. We must truly acknowledge Him as these things before we can praise Him for them.
For example, when we pray for a specific thing and get it, we take credit for it. We might have surrendered, but we didn’t acknowledge God and give Him the praise. The more aware we are of His Shepherding of us, the closer we draw to Him.
The reality is we are all going to face hard times in life. When we read Psalm 23, we should cling to hope, comfort, and courage for whatever we face. Where can we make room for God to shepherd? Where do we depend on our will, strength, and abilities to provide, protect, comfort, restore, guide, and bless ourselves and those we love?
God wants to be the one that leads us to those still waters and provides us with the nourishment and restoration we need. But the barriers that block that from happening need to be moved by us.
The Lord is my Shepherd because:
He knows me,
He strengthens me,
He comforts me,
He provides for me,
He restores me,
He leads me,
He protects me.
And He does all that for every one of us.
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