PSALM 23

Throughout the month of September we will be reflecting on Psalm 23. I spoke on this Psalm a little while back and this month's reflections will serve to help us further reflect and chew on this beloved Psalm.

Psalm 23:1: The LORD is my shepherd

King David, the author of this psalm, spent a good portion of his life as a shepherd tending sheep. The lives, as well as the quality of those lives, were in his hands. He cared for them. He fed them, he led them, and he protected them (1 Samuel 16:11; 17:15, 34 - 36). David had first hand experience of what this job required, the character and skill level, the care, compassion, patience and endurance it took to make sure these sheep grew, that they were provided for, fed and watered, and protected. This very first line could be read as a boastful declaration. Out of all the leaders, providers, and protectors, the LORD - the God who spoke the very world into existence - is MY shepherd! What kind of LORD are we talking about here?

There are many verses that describe God's character in the Bible. I will focus on a couple.

The LORD, OUR Shepherd is...

"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished..." (Exodus 34:6 - 7)

"Here is your God! See the sovereign LORD comes with power and his arm rules for him. See his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those who have young." (Isaiah 40:10 - 11)

"The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and bursting in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all that he has made." (Psalm 145:8 - 9)

Our Shepherd would say, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your lives." (Matthew 11:28 - 29)

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep...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 10:11 - 15)

If you have some of your own favourite verses then I encourage you reflect on those as well. Not just reflect, but let these verses settle in your bones, let these verses stabilize and form your mindset. Isaiah 26:3 remind us that God, "...will keep in complete peace the mind that is steadfast, because it trusts in you."

The LORD is our shepherd

As I mentioned in the sermon on Psalm 23, the psalm describes a journey. It is not praising God for one or two miraculous moments in life, but is declaring his goodness, his provision, his guidance, and his presence, throughout the entirety of our journey (or pilgrimage) of life. The end goal is a banquet in his presence forever. But this pilgrimage includes deep, dark valleys. We should not simply state that, "the LORD is my shepherd." We should confidently and joyously declare that, "THE LORD is our shepherd." Out of all the kings, generals, leaders, and other would be gods out there - THE LORD, the I AM THAT I AM, the powerful AND compassionate God -- is the one who we have entrusted our lives to.

Whether you are in a dark valley, coming out of one or maybe going into one, the LORD is with you. God is not transactional. God is not only experienced in miraculous moments that occur here and there. God is relational. You experience his shepherding as you go through life, the high and low times. As we begin to embark on this time of uncertainty, know that the LORD is with you. Let these scriptures sink into your bones as you reflect on his character. And know that whatever season you are in, and the season we are all beginning, THE LORD is our shepherd. Say it with joy and confidence. Here are some songs to listen and reflect on.

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