… And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever

referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

So far we have looked at all the verses that make up the 23rd Psalm. My husband describes all the statements as a confession or declaration of who God is to us and the benefits of this shepherd-sheep relationship.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,he leads me beside quiet waters,he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, 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 overflows.
Surely your goodness and [mercy] will follow me all the days of my life… Psalm 23:1- 6a NIV

The psalmist is enthralled by everything God is to him and it leads to a response and a commitment to God: I will dwell in your house forever! What is the house of the Lord? Where is the house of the Lord?

In the old testament, the house of the Lord was the temple of God where the Israelites worshiped. It was not uncommon for people to live in certain quarters of the temple and dedicate their lives to the service of God; case in point: Samuel. But…

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands. Acts 17:24 Berean study bible

But God no longer dwells in buildings, he dwells in hearts and we know from previous posts that the house of the lord represents the presence of the Lord. So if Jesus lives in your heart, then you are the house of God and you carry the presence of God.

So what exactly is the psalmist saying when he says “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”? The psalmist is making a lifelong commitment to live in the presence of God. Many times, we carry ourselves as if to say the presence of God is found in a place and when we go to that place we go into the presence of God. For some, it is a church building. For others, it is in assuming a certain position to pray or during personal devotion or times of fasting that the presence of God is felt.

Through this series, we have learned that Jesus our shepherd, promises us his abiding presence. He is always with us.  But it takes another level of commitment to make the presence of God a dwelling place. It means you constantly live in God’s presence. You don’t visit. God’s presence is home. For those that like abstract proverbs it is not only buying the milk; It is buying the cow.

When my husband and I were dating, we spent so much time together but at the end of the day, he went back to his own place or I, to mine. It was not until we got married that his presence became a constant in my life. The psalmist is making a pledge to God very much like in marriage. The psalmist is saying, God,  I promise to always be with you always just as you promise to be with me always.

And I will dwell in your house forever…

  • Is a commitment to be more aware of the presence of God and be intentional about living with that consciousness and practicing presence.   It is a commitment to inviting Jesus into your heart every day and with every time you say this psalm so that you can be a carrier of His presence wherever you go. It is a commitment to being comfortable enough in the presence of God to be your authentic self because that’s what you do when you are home. You don’t put on a facade for anyone you are yourself.
  • Is a confession when you are struggling with the notion of being in God’s presence. It may be that you don’t feel worthy to be in God’s presence. Or you feel disappointed with life or with God. This psalm serves as an encouragement and perhaps a self-talk that you are going to strive to live in God’s presence no matter what. When you don’t feel like being in God’s presence you will be in God’s presence.
  • Is an assurance of the hope we have in the afterlife. It is common knowledge that we come into the world naked and take nothing out of it. When you have a shepherd-sheep relationship you take the presence of God with you. Not only will God’s presence be with us on earth but it will be our companion into the afterlife and forever thereafter. Jesus did not take lightly the promise: “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). You can be confident that eternity will be an easy transition because you will be “home”- in the presence of God; a home you will recognize because you’ve experienced it on earth.

So dear friends, I conclude the Psalm 23 series with a prayer for you:

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

…Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me All the Days of My Life

Referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

The last part of Psalm 23 is the most popular part of the Psalm. It serves as a benediction in many churches. But have you ever stopped to think about what constitutes the goodness and mercy of God and how they are manifest? I will attempt to describe this from the following scriptures.

Then Moses said, “Please show me Your glory.”“I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you,” the LORD replied, “and I will proclaim My name—the LORD—before you. I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Exodus 33:18-19 Berean Study Bible

Moses asks to see God’s glory and God’s response is I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you and if you read further God says to Moses but you cannot see my face because no one can see my face and live! Two things can be inferred from this: All of God’s goodness is the physical manifestation of  God and is also the embodiment of His glory.

So when the psalmist says goodness shall follow him he is referring to the glory of God accompanying him wherever he goes. Now get this: Jesus is the very essence of God’s Glory and represents the Glory of God.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3a NIV

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 Berean Study Bible

So if you have a daily relationship with Jesus, Our shepherd, you have a daily encounter with God’s glory which is manifested as ALL OF GOD’S GOODNESS.

In the scripture from Exodus 33, we see that God’s goodness evokes His mercy and compassion. Where God’s goodness goes, mercy follows. The Bible records that wherever Jesus went, he was moved with compassion [mercy] for the people he encountered and He demonstrated this mercy by healing the sick and broken-hearted, delivering the oppressed, and setting the captives free. If Jesus is your Shepherd it means that you have 24 hr access to mercy and all of God’s goodness. Now let’s talk about what that looks like:

How great is [Your] goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.Praise the LORD, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack. I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help. Psalm 31:19- 22 NLT

This is my definition of a stress-free life. This is a good life. A life that is accompanied by goodness and mercy. And finally, the best part is that these benefits are for as long as you are on this earth: all the days of your life. Not some; but all.

If Jesus is not your shepherd yet, all hope is not lost. He is always moved with compassion for sheep without Shepherd. He wants everyone to benefit from the shepherd-sheep relationship.

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36 NASB

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. All the days of your life is a long time and you want to live it well; with goodness and mercy following you!

…Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil

referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

I have always thought of this scripture to mean being a perilous state that could lead to physical death like having an illness, driving in a bad winter storm etc. And while the promise of God to be with us rings true, I recently heard a sermon that encouraged me to extend my understanding of this scripture. Shout out to Pastor Kirk Cowman

David experienced the valley of the shadow of death in ways that are more real and relatable than the proverbial valley of the shadow of death so let’s look together at David’s experience from 1 Samuel 21:10-15.

David was having such a hard time of life. David the future anointed king of Israel, the champion of the young men and the darling of the young women, the one who people sang about in folklore was having a hard time. King Saul was trying to kill him. David was so desperate he ran away to the home of his mortal enemy Goliath. In Gath, the people recognized him and fearing for his life, he pretended to be insane. No truer depiction of the shadow of death! This is how he described his experience in his own words:

O God, have mercy on me, for people are hounding me. My foes attack me all day long. I am constantly hounded by those who slander me, and many are boldly attacking me. They are always twisting what I say; they spend their days plotting to harm me. They come together to spy on me—watching my every step, eager to kill me. Psalm 56: 1-2, 5-6 NLT

Your experience may not be that you are running away from a king but this could easily be your state of mind in a toxic workplace where it feels like everyone is out to get you. Or if you have a neighbor or roommate bent on making life a living hell. Or unfortunately, sometimes the conditions in a church or marriage can spark such emotional feelings of walking in the valley of the shadow of death. But listen to what David says in spite of how he feels:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 56: 3-4 NIV

Wow! David is in the camp of his enemies…. literally at death’s door and his confession is “I will fear no evil”. He has so much confidence and trust in God’s ability to deliver and save. His trust is the antithesis of any fear he must feel. It gives him the confidence to say:

On this day, one of the darkest days of my life because the valley of death has cast a shadow on my life, I will walk before God in the light of life (Psalm 56: 13 NIV Interpretation mine)

I pray that we truly come to the place where our trust is without borders that even in the face of adversity we remain unwavering. David’s trust was grounded in the next statement the psalmist makes in Psalm 23: 4 “For you are with me” 

Stay tuned for the next lesson where we delve into this phrase “for you are with me” a little deeper and be intentional in trusting God even in your darkest valleys: the valleys of the shadow of death!

 

…For His Name’s Sake

referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

The first time I pondered this scripture, what I saw in this phrase, “for His name’s sake” was selfishness. But because I know that selfishness is inconsistent with the very nature of God and  I have  also experienced the selfless, “reckless” love of God, I decided to explore this phrase further and I came to understand it from another scripture:

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Psalm 31:3 NIV

When I read this scripture, I understand the psalmist is saying, “God I call you my rock and my fortress and so because this is who you are and to be consistent with and protect the integrity of your name, lead and guide me”. That is what “for His name’s sake” means to me. Lets read that verse in context

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23: 3b ESV

From the previous lesson, we identified that Jesus is the WAY, the narrow path that leads to life everlasting (Matthew 7: 13-14), and the gate that we must enter if we are to be saved (John 10:9). We also know that Jesus is our RIGHTEOUSNESS… And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.’ (Jeremiah 23: 6 NASB)

His name is Our Righteousness (Jehovah Tsidkenu). His name is the Way. His name is Jesus (God our Salvation). He is our Shepherd and naturally, all shepherds lead and guide their sheep. In keeping with His name, He can only lead us on righteous paths. So when the psalmist says “for His name’s sake”, he is acknowledging who God is and the fact that God’s character cannot go contrary to His name. The psalmist is inadvertently saying, “God you are my Shepherd and as a shepherd, it is in your nature to lead. So because this is who you are, for the sake of your name [by virtue of your name, to preserve the integrity of your name], lead me in the path of righteousness.

Jesus has the most powerful name in heaven and on earth (Philippians 2: 9). There is healing in His Name. There is wholeness in His name. There is favor in His name. There is deliverance in His name. There is provision in His name. There is love in His name. There is peace in His name. There is joy in His name. Everything we need is in His name.

So dear reader, when next you pray or say this psalm dare to add “FOR YOUR NAME’S SAKE“. Ask God to hear your request from heaven simply because He is the God that hears (Delasi)…. For His Name’s Sake!

…He restores my soul

referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

To restore means to bring back, to return something to former condition, to repair or renovate to original condition. A prayer of restoration insinuates that your soul was previously in a better condition than it is right now.

In this context, soul refers to the seat of our emotions; the real ‘you’ when no one else is watching; the part of you that weighs a situation and makes decisions based on what you know and how you feel about the situation. It is the part of you that gets downcast and discouraged. It is the part of you that feels emotionally fatigued. It is the part of you that gets devastated when a relationship comes to an end: the proverbial “broken heart”. It is the part of us that longs, that desires, that hopes. I am not talking about the part of you that will give account of your existence before God’s righteous throne. That’s for another day…

The psalmists experienced so many highs and lows in their lives which the expressed in song:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”…
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? … Psalm 42:1-5 NIV

The anguish of the psalmist is almost palpable. This is a soul in need of restoration! I examine my life and I realize I am in this situation very often. Always making decisions: Should I or should I not?; Do I or do I not?; Can I or can’t I?… Oh! it is exhausting! Sometimes it feels like my life is spinning out of control because of the decisions and responsibilities I have. Even when everything is going well.. there is always more to be done and it is exhausting!

But our Shepherd has the ability to still it all and reset the button. He knows when you have had enough. Look back into your life. Was there ever a time you felt you were in this emotional vortex, this pit (heartbreak, divorce, miscarriage, death of a loved one, loss of a job, etc.) that you thought you’d never be able to recover from? Well, if you are looking back,  and trying to remember a time like that in your life, that means you got over it! I know people say time heals all wounds but that’s not true.

It is the One who has time in His hands, our Shepherd, who heals all wounds! He restores our souls. He resets our emotions so that the good times in life are not colored by the bad. He is the reason we can enjoy life in spite of!

But don’t forget the preamble…The Lord is my  Shepherd. People without a shepherd-sheep relationship more often than not wallow in hopelessness. They don’t have the privilege of having their souls restored. So when life beats down on them over and over again, it gets too much and the way out of the hopelessness is usually suicide to end it all!

Dear Reader, how blessed it is to know the LORD and to call him your Shepherd! He gives hope and anchors this hope in Himself so it is immovable and unshakable even when life is harsh. He restores our souls.

 

…He leads me beside still waters

referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

One of the most soothing things in nature is the sound of water- a gentle stream, a rushing waterfall, a bubbling brook. This verse about still (quiet) waters evokes thoughts of a calm and peaceful place. There are 3 lessons I’d like to share from this scripture:

The first is our need for water. Our shepherd realizes the need to quench our thirst and He makes provision for this. He draws us to himself because in Him is a fountain of living [life-giving] water. Of the thirsty he says:

… “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega–the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. Revelations 21:6-7 NLT

Of course this is not a physical thirst. It is the thirst for life, the thirst that creates a void and longing in us; a void we are ceaselessly trying to fill with “stuff”. Jesus says, “Drink of the water I give and you’ll stop your meaningless wandering and searching. Drink of the water I give and I’ll give meaning and purpose to your life.” He says, “Drink and not only will your life have meaning, you’ll have eternal life.”

…but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. John 4: 14 NASB

The second lesson is in the word “leads”. The hebrew words for still waters mean restful water. Our Shepherd wants to lead us to the place of rest and of peace. So many times when my life is in turmoil, I try to solve my own problems and bring myself peace and relief from the situations that plaques me. But today the word leads stands out to me. God wants to lead me. He wants me to take my hands off of my life and give Him control and for me that’s a difficult thing! I need to be in control of every situation. I have backup plans for my back up plans. In this moment I am convicted by this song:

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When you’re the one who made me from the dust
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world
~Natalie Grant (King of the World)

In the world today there are so many ‘leaders’ even though God only asked for followers. God wants to lead us to the ever elusive peace we seek. God wants to bring us to a place of rest and refreshing. Our shepherd wants to still and heal our minds and hearts with His life-giving water.

The third and final lesson is in the word “still”.  I read this online and it is my sentiments exactly:

Our lives are so fast-paced that we battle continual physical and mental exhaustion, trying to keep up with never-ending demands. We’re constantly stimulated by social media, advertising, school programs, church events, and our own inner clamor. This frantic pace is exhausting! Even our “quiet time” is anything but quiet, as we run through one spiritual task after another until we can check it off our list with satisfaction. Our bodies sit but our minds race, and the idea of stillness seems almost alien. There’s so much to do, and so little time. Surely God understands.

But hear what God says about that:

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. Isaiah 30:15 NLT

If we want to experience true intimacy with God, we need to learn to quiet the noise around and within us and enter into His stillness and rest. So what does it really mean to be still before God?

All the scriptures I read about stillness point to having trust and confidence in God. This trust helps me not to fret when others around me seem to be doing better than I am and I am just bidding my time (Psalm 37:37). This trust lets me let go of my backup plans for my backup plans and give God control (Exodus 14:13). Being still means I wait patiently for God to make the next move (Psalm 40:1, Habbakuk 2:1). Sometimes though, being still means I rebuke the voices in my head and say, “Quiet!, Be still!”(Mark 4:39). And other times it means I turn off all distractions like my phone and TV and spend time with God’s word unhindered (Mark 6:31).,.

Stillness is definitely not inactivity or stagnation. Quiet waters are still flowing albeit gently. When we are still before God, that is when He works His salvation and fights for us (because we are not getting in His way!)

Dear reader, as you purpose to be intentional, let the Shepherd lead you to peace and rest… Drink of the water He gives and be still and see the salvation of the LORD ( Exodus 14:13; 2 Chronicles 20:17). The problems, the hurdles, the challenges, the fears, the anxiety, you see today… you’ll never see them again!

 

…He makes me lie down in green pasture

referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

One of the most fascinating things I have learned so far in this Psalm 23 series is that green pasture doesn’t just happen! In many places, green pastures may not exist until someone – usually the shepherd- tills the soil, plants the grass and legumes, irrigates the land, and tends to the pasture to ensure the nutritional needs of the sheep are met.

After sheep have trailed all day, they need lush pasture to forage on and lie down in and chew their cud. Pasturing is a time of rest and refreshing. Making and/ finding green pasture is a very intentional process. Healthy pasture by and large is in healthy soil. Healthier soils yield better-quality grass which means healthier sheep.

So lets look at the scripture again….

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; Psalm 23:1-2

What caught my eye was He ‘makes’. To make is to cause to exist or happen. Rest is a concept that originated from God (on the 7th day He rested). God is the only one that can give true rest. His invitation as a shepherd is:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest [make you lie down in green pasture (my interpretation)]” Matthew 11:28 NIV

There are times when I get so busy with the hustle and bustle of daily life- work, kids, home life, school, church life, my daily Netflix time- to the detriment of my spirituality. I get too busy for my one-on -one with my Shepherd and it manifests as me feeling physically irritable and emotionally drained. It is in those times that I am forced to rest. God literally makes me lie down and reminds me to rest and refresh in Him. One of the ways we lie down in green pastures in His presence when we make out time with Him through the study  and meditation of His Word. Times of refreshing comes from presence of God (Acts 3:20).

Now lets backtrack to the part on soils: Healthy pasture is in the health of the soil. The quality of rest and refreshment is in the state of the heart that receives the Word of God. Jesus told a parable about the sower and He explains it thus:

“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:18-23 NIV

What’s your heart condition? Good soil means good pasture means rest and refreshing. So dear reader, next time you read your bible, don’t rush through it. Be intentional. Take a moment to pasture: to study and meditate on the word and then let the words wash over you as you bask in His rest.

…I shall not want

referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

We live in an era of prosperity preachers. The abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10 has been translated to financial wealth. Even the blessings of Abraham connotes money to some. And while financial wealth is included in this scripture below, I want to take a broader lens to it.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Psalm 23: 1 NIV

What I hear God say to me when I read this is, “I am your sufficiency, in Me you have everything and so you lack for nothing!” This means if God is my shepherd then at any point in time, regardless of what the circumstances appear to be, I have ALL I need. Wow…that’s deep!

As my Shepherd, God makes sure that in every circumstance I have all I need to be complete (And you have been made complete in Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:10 Berean Study Bible).  So when I wake up in the morning my Shepherd makes sure I have the strength and health I need to face the day ahead; so I lack nothing.  As I put my thoughts together in this blog, my Shepherd ensures that in this moment I have the wisdom I need; so I lack nothing. When my bank account is nothing to write home about, my Shepherd says of that circumstance, “even though your bank account says otherwise, you have all you need in this moment”.

The shepherd is many step ahead of the sheep. I think of God as a nomadic shepherd. He journeys through life’s seasons with His sheep promising never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  During the dry seasons, even though the sheep appear to be going through the drought, in reality, the shepherd is always leading them out of the drought to greener pasture (Psalm 23:2).

His assurance is that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3). With God as our shepherd, we lack nothing at every given moment in time. Armed with this truth, contentment should come more easily and readily to us. Contentment does not mean we do not pray for more stuff or a better status quo. Contentment means:

Instead of always praying that God changes our circumstances, we pray that God helps us find opportunities in those circumstances.

Abraham was once on a mission at God’s command to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22). He could have prayed to God to relieve him of the mission. He could have negotiated with God to spare his son’s life (he had done it before for his nephew Lot). Instead Abraham found opportunity in his circumstance to prove God as a provider. With knowledge of God as his shepherd, Abraham said to his son, “God will provide for Himself a lamb for the sacrifice”.  This confession meant that even though Abraham did not have a lamb for the sacrifice in that moment, he knew without a shadow of doubt that in God he had everything he needed. We know how the story ends (and if you don’t, dare to read Genesis 22). That day, Abraham discovered God in a new light. For the very first time in the history of man, a new name for God was birthed on that mountain: Jehovah Jireh, ‘The Lord will Provide’ (Genesis 22:14).

As we study through Psalm 23, I do not take for granted and will continue to emphasize the preamble: the Lord is my shepherd. What prosperity preachers don’t tell you is that you need a relationship with the shepherd before you can claim the benefits. Is the Lord your shepherd? Then and only then can you say with confidence, “I shall not want!”

The Lord is my Shepherd…

Psalm 23: 1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. This could very easily be one of the most famous verses in the bible. For the most part, every time I have said that prayer, I casually run through the verses till I get to my favorite part, “Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” Boy do I say that with so much conviction but  today,  I felt God asking me to slow down with the scripture so here goes:

The first and most important thing I realized was that the “Lord is my shepherd” is a preamble to the whole prayer not just “I shall not want”. I can confidently claim the benefits of this prayer in its entirety if and only if the Lord is my shepherd.

So what does it mean to have the Lord as my shepherd?

I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep and My sheep know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. John 10:14-15 Berean study Bible

Note that at this point Jesus had not yet been physically crucified but He did not say, “I will lay down my life”. He said,  “I lay down My life”. The Lord Jesus,  our shepherd, has already paid the ultimate sacrifice and yet He is prepared to do it all over again if that’s what it takes so that you are part of his fold.

I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them in as well, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:16 Berean Study Bible

As a shepherd, Jesus knows me. He doesn’t only know my name (Isaiah 43:2). He knows everything about me (Psalm 139:1-4) and wants me to be solely reliant on Him for everything. His love defends me when wolves (the storms of life) come (John 10:12, Ezekiel 34:12). He is concerned about me (1 peter 5:7). He delights in every detail of my life (Psalm 37:23). He is intentional about me and will leave the other 99 sheep to come after me when I go astray.

And what are the implications for me?

The sheep (me) knows the shepherd. I must know the voice of the shepherd. I must not answer to any other  but the voice of my shepherd. I must trust my shepherd completely knowing that He has my best interests at heart. I must rely on His guidance and direction. I must be comforted by His rod and staff  even if it is a rod/ staff of discipline. And when I find myself in a place of uncertainty, a place a sorrow, a place of despair, I will not be afraid or let my heart be troubled because I know he is selflessly with me.

So the next time I say Psalm 23, I am going to say it with understanding of the privilege I enjoy with Jesus as my shepherd and the identity and responsibilities I have as a sheep.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name Even 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 overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Amen.