READ: Psalm 23
BACKGROUND: El-Rohi (God my Shepherd) is one of my favorite Hebrew names for God.
2 – Green pastures and quiet waters weren’t easy to find. I know that’s mind-blowing for people who grew up in the Midwestern United States (especially in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes) but in the Middle East grass and water aren’t just found everywhere you look. That’s why the job of shepherd was so important. The sheep depended on the shepherd to find the pastures and the water they needed to live.
3 – The shepherds job is to lead his sheep along paths that bring them to safety and well-being.
6 – What an amazing hope!
THINK: I don’t know how long ago I memorized Psalm 23. Needless to say, it’s been a long time. I also don’t know how many times I’ve recalled it and thought about the words since then – in times of difficulty, frustration, & fear – but the number is too large to count. This small passage of the Bible has had such a profound and meaningful impact on my life that I feel like nothing I write can do it justice. That said, there are two things I want to do with today’s devotion: Encourage and challenge you to memorize Psalm 23 (it won’t take long), & briefly talk about the 3 characteristics of a shepherd that David highlights in this Psalm that I find so comforting. So, what are those 3 things?
1. A shepherd PROVIDES. It is so easy in life to spend time worrying about the future. We don’t know what it holds, and this can be a source of great stress. We worry about school and jobs and finances and security. And these are legitimate concerns given the reality of our world. But it is important for us to remember in these moments that the Lord is our shepherd. And because – as a very part of the nature of being a shepherd – a shepherd provides, we don’t need to worry. It may not always be in the way we want or in the timing we want, but God always provides green pastures and quiet waters to meet our needs.
2. A shepherd PROTECTS. Sometimes life is scary. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Sometimes our situations and relationships feel as if they are conspiring to completely break us. In these moments we need to remember that our shepherd protects. In some of my most frustrated and fearful moments I have taken great comfort in knowing that God is there protecting me. The image that I always have in my head when I think about God’s rod and staff comforting me in the Valley of the Shadow of Death is Gandalf totally smoking a bunch of orcs with his staff and sword in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. I just picture God totally annihilating anyone and anything that is out to get me…and it’s a really comforting picture.
3. A shepherd PREPARES. This one may be the best of all! No matter what happens in life while we are living in this sinful and broken world we can have the ultimate confidence that God is preparing a perfect eternal place for us where we will get to dwell in his presence forever. This gives us great hope even in life’s fiercest storms.
ASK: How does it change my perspective on the difficulties and frustrations of my life when I think about God being my shepherd and all that this means?
LIVE: Memorize Psalm 23. Recite to yourself whenever you are feeling scared, lost, lonely, broken, or frustrated. Allow the words to penetrate your soul and bring you the comfort that is found in God alone.