…You prepare a feast before me in the presence of my enemies

Referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

Aaaah….! My African kindred love this part of Psalm 23! I guess this is because this scripture paints the picture of God’s righteous vengeance on our enemies and rightly so. God says of your enemies, of those who trouble your peace… I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them” Deuteronomy 32:35 NLT. So Absolutely! God preparing a feast for you to the while your enemies look on in dismay and shame is a HUGE deal! However, I heard a sermon that shifted gears for me. Shout out to Pastor Daniel Ngo.

Psalm 63: Picture this… David is still not done with his enemies. He is on the run again. this time he is running from his own son Absalom.  So he runs into a desert, the desert of Judah where he gets really really thirsty. His body is in a heightened state of awareness… His mind is probably playing tricks on him as he keeps seeing mirages that look like oases in the desert. In that state, all a person can think about is food and water as we revert to our primal, animalistic instincts when we are extremely thirsty or hungry. David also needs to stay alert, he cannot afford to slip because he is on the run and his enemies are on the loose.  So what does David do?

He thinks about God and describes his physical experience through spiritual eyes. experience.  He says,

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 NIV

When you are thirsty every other desire takes second place to the desire for water and so it is with God. When we thirst after God, all other desires and longing need to take second place to the longing to be filled with more of God. This is where I am going with this, David goes on to say:

You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. Psalm 63: 5 NLT

David speaks of a feast, but not in the context of vengeance but with the realization that God satisfies us even more than the desire for vengeance, for vindication, for recompense. It is easy to ask God to set a feast before you but it takes a greater longing to look beyond the feast to the God of the feast. David said You satisfy me more than the richest feast and believe you me if God spreads a feast for you then you can be assured that it will be the choicest and the richest of feasts. But David had found the secret to satisfaction. It was not in the feast per say… it was in God.

This reminds me of a practice I saw in a Nigerian traditional marriage. During the ceremony, the bride is asked to go to this table where there are many presents and pick one for herself. The expectation is that she picks the bible because in the bible will be her wedding ring. It’s the same concept God lays a spread before for us… You can take what you want from the table. You can choose to magnify the fact that your enemies are present and focus on that and order vindication off the menu and not experience the rest of the meal.  Or you can choose God off the menu and find all you need in Him.

David made his choice. With his enemies all around him, he recognized that the most important feast was to feast on God… O taste and see that the Lord is good Psalm 34: 8 KJV.

Taste is one of the most engaged senses. You can see from afar, hear from afar, smell from afar but to taste.. you have to be intimate with whatever you are tasting. The shepherd has prepared a table before you… your enemies seen and unseen are all around you… What are you going to do? Are you going to focus on the enemies and get only a few things off the buffet table or are you going to let yourself get lost in the experience of the feast,  are you going to taste and see…

Note the scripture did not say see and taste… sometimes we are like doubting Thomas. We want to see first. Sounds like me trying new food (and if you know me you know I am a picky eater)… it must first appeal to my eyes and then my nose before I put it in my mouth but I dare you to take the plunge. Dare to taste of God even when you cannot see Him, even when you cannot feel He’s near, even when His works are not visible. I guarantee the outcome is always the same: THE LORD IS GOOD. That is why he is our GOOD shepherd!

…Your rod and your staff, they comfort me

referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

The first thing I think about when i think about the rod is discipline perhaps from the scripture “spare the rod and spoil the child”. And while there is an element of discipline in the functions of the rod, there are so many more uses of the rod I will like to explore as God leads.

Shepherds use a rod to protect the flock from predators or reprimand unruly sheep,  and to prod those going astray, or are oblivious to danger. Isn’t it true of us that many times we put ourselves in precarious positions and are in need of being saved from ourselves? Sometimes when our Shepherd intervenes it is not without a reprimand to help us to stay the course. I think about the time when I caught my son trying to stick an object into a socket. As I swooped in to remove him from imminent danger, you better believe i was scolding him in the process! Even though the tone of my voice frightened him and it may not seem like love in the moment, my actions came from a place of overarching knowledge of how electricity works and some bad experiences with live wires  I have had in my own past. Now ponder this scripture:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, or lose heart when He rebukes you. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son.” Hebrews 12:5-6 Berean Study Bible

David, in his former life as  shepherd, recognized that when ever he used his rod, be it to fight of predators or to correct the course of a sheep, it was always used for the benefit of the sheep. So it was not far-fetched for David to associate a sheep’s rod with comfort.

The other piece of equipment a shepherd had in his arsenal was the staff. This is the one with the crook on one end, the symbol of a shepherd. If a shepherd association had an insignia it would the staff. The purpose of the staff is to guide the sheep, to lift the tired ones or rescue stray sheep from places that are difficult to reach. The staff is like an extension of the shepherd’s hands. Now there are two staffs that God uses to shepherd us his flock. Their names are Favor and Union.

So I cared for the flock intended for slaughter–the flock that was oppressed. Then I took two shepherd’s staffs and named one Favor and the other Union Zechariah 11:7 NLT

We discover the function of these two staffs by reading further down about the chaos that takes place when they are broken. We see that when the staff of Favor is broken it signifies an annulment of God’s covenant and when Union is broken it signifies an end to the bond of unity that exists (Zechariah 11: 10-14).

Favor: For the most part whenever the word covenant appears in the bible, the word favor appears alongside it. Jesus Christ negotiated a new and better covenant for all of us and we partake in this covenant by His grace (which is also known as the unmerited favor of God). “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jeremiah 31:33 NLT. The grace (favor) of God keeps us within the terms of God’s covenant and give us the confidence to claim all the benefits stipulated under this new covenant. Favor goes beyond being successful in an exams, passing a job interview, getting promoted at work, winning that coveted/ prestigious scholarship or award. Favor is not happenstance occurrences in your life. For a sheep, Favor is an everyday occurrence. Or to phrase it another way, for a sheep, the grace of God is an  everyday occurrence. In the presence of the Shepherd you have favor. No wonder the psalmist says:

For surely You, O LORD, bless the righteous; You surround them with the shield of your favor. Psalm 5:12 Berean Study Bible

The second staff is Union or Unity and we know from Colossians 3:14 that the perfect bond of unity is love. Love drove our Shepherd to lay down His life for us and our responsibility as sheep is now to Love the LORD with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves.

But how can we love the Lord with our everything when many times we are being pulled in so many different directions? when sometimes our everything is being held together by many bandages because of the hurt and cares of the world? when many times we have been so broken and hurt by people that we are no longer whole? when we have no love left in us to give? And how can we love our neighbors when they are source of our stress and grief? when their values and beliefs are different from ours? or when they don’t look like I do or act like I would? I am reminded of a prayer of the psalmist:

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:11 ESV

The psalmist prays to God to unite his heart, to give him an undivided heart. The staff of Union restores the bond of unity within us and among us so that our worship is unhindered and our love for God and for others is unhinged.

David says of the Shepherd: your rod and your staff they comfort me. They are my consolation, my solace, my support, and my reassurance.  My prayer is that we feel the comfort of God in every circumstance of our lives as we purpose to be intentional in our walk with God.


…For you are with me

referencing The Lord is my Shepherd…

Psalm 23: 4 says “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” (NIV) 

In this  series I have used the phrase, “the abiding presence of God” so many times that it has almost become a byword and a cliche. So what does the abiding presence of God really look like? What does it mean when we say that God is with us? How do we conceptualize the word ‘Emmanuel’? I recently heard a sermon that connected the dots for me and I’d like to share. Shout out to Pastor Kirk Cowman.

In the previous lesson we encounter David in Gath running away  from King Saul right into the hands of his enemies, the relatives of Goliath. He was literally in the valley of the shadow of death (Gath is in a valley!) and this is what he says:

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

David’s trust is anchored in the fact that God is with him always. He is cognizant of the abiding presence of God and he goes on to say:

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56: 8 NLT

This is a perfect illustration of God’s presence with us always. Do you know how attentive a person has to be to keep track of every time you are sad or sorrowful? Even my husband does not know of every time I am sad or sorrowful and we spend a lot of time together. Oh and do you know how close in proximity a person will have to be to you to catch your tears in a bottle? This is who God is to us. He is so close and always present. Whether it is on a mountain high or in the valleys low He promises to be there. He will never leave us neither forsake us. The psalmist describes this phenomenon like so:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139:7-12 NIV

We’ve heard countless times that God is with us. This week, my challenge to you and to myself is to practice the presence of God. What I mean by practicing the presence of God is to be fully aware, to fully embrace the notion that God is with us every second; of every minute; of every hour; of every day; day after day after day. He is always there. Through our highs and through our  lows… through the sun and through the rain…. He is there. When we are happy and especially when we are sad, He is there… ready with his bottle to collect and record every tear drop. Practicing presence means internalizing and having a consciousness of the fact that God is with us. Practicing presence means living our lives with that assurance that God is with us and  so “What can mere mortals do to us?” Practicing presence also means that we are intentional in living godly lives because we know that if God is really that close enough to catch our falling tears, then He is close enough to see all those secret sins.

My prayer is that today you experience the glory of God’s presence all around you and within you and be intentional in living out your faith!





…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.