The words came back in a rush, filling my thoughts. I knew them well. How many times had I quoted them? In church services. At funerals. At Bible Studies.
Familiarity can rob at times. It robs the depth of meaning as we repeat the familiar so casually. Our minds can even wander during those moments of familiarity. But the newness, the fresh meaning flooded me as I read in the words in a different version than the well known King James from my childhood…..
1 The Lord is my shepherd;I have all that I need.2 He lets me rest in green meadows;he leads me beside peaceful streams.3 He renews my strength.He guides me along right paths,bringing honor to his name.4 Even when I walkthrough the darkest valley,I will not be afraid,for you are close beside me.Your rod and your staffprotect and comfort me.5 You prepare a feast for mein the presence of my enemies.You honor me by anointing my head with oil.My cup overflows with blessings.6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue meall the days of my life,and I will live in the house of the Lordforever.(Psalm 23, NLT)
- Sheep will only rest AFTER they have eaten. Sort of like people, who after a satisfying meal, desire to take a nap.
- Sheep will only drink from still waters & so the Lord finds peaceful streams to provide refreshment for us.
- Sheep are fearful animals. They are easily panicked & scare easily (much like me!!!).
Keeping these three characteristics of sheep in mind, I realized the depth to which our God will go for us. He prepares safe places for us. He puts those places in readiness for us. He creates the environment that will best suit us. The Lord know the pasture where we will be fed spiritually & nourished so that growth will occur in our lives. He carves that setting out for us much like shepherds had to for their sheep. In order to create still waters, they often had to pick up large stones & dam up waters, causing rushing waters to slow & create a still area. It was only then that the sheep would drink. It was in green pastures & still waters that all fear was gone.
It is as we allow Him to Shepherd us that we find we are led along those paths that are best for us & bring glory to His Name. It is as we walk in His ways that we find that His goodness & His unfailing love will pursue us. They will follow us with the intent of overtaking us & when they overcome us, we find ourselves filled with a renewed sense of appreciation & gratitude for His Presence in our lives.
I heard a story years ago, told by Chuck Swindoll on his radio program. A small child, misquoting this psalm, was heard to say, “The Lord is my Shepherd, that’s all I want.”
Perhaps it is not a misquote after all. For as we are under the constant care of the One who is all-sufficient; has an inexhaustible supply of all we need; & is unchanging, we truly find that we shall not be in want but are fully cared for.
If He be a shepherd to no one else, He is a Shepherd to me. He cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me.
All I can add is, “AMEN!!!”.