The Good Shepherd – Psalm 23

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.  Psalm 23:1-3 NKJV

Early this morning I was sitting on the floor with a nine-week-old puppy falling asleep in my lap.  And these words came into my heart – He restores my soul.

Almost two years ago, my beloved 12-year-old dog was on a down-hill slide and could no longer even get in a comfortable position.  As her health declined each day, my soul was filled with pain.  I knew her end was near, and the pain of separation was overwhelming.  Tears came throughout each day, springing forth beyond my control at random times of their choosing.

When the fateful moment came, I concluded I could never have another dog – the pain of loss was too great.  Although I had been through this exercise twice before, this one was too close and the grief of separation too much. I was done for good.   Or so I thought.

Today, my soul is restored.  Completely.  Every ounce of love I had for my previous dog is being poured into this new one.  She is getting a head start on bonding and attachment.

The days ordained for her and I are known only by God, and all I know is that I have the present.  It is up to me to enjoy it, to love her and others, and to follow the will of God as best I can today.  No one is guaranteed tomorrow.  Today is a gift of God to be experienced and savored.

In times of turmoil, we have a Good Shepherd who leads us besides peaceful, still waters. He will calm and remove the sting of grief, strife, and pain.  Though scars will remain, He will fill the hole in our soul with His presence. He loves us and grants us His righteousness because He offered Himself on the cross for us.  We do not suffer from want as He is always with us to shield us and provide healing and nourishment.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  John 10:11 NKJV

After revealing Himself as our Good Shepherd, Jesus warns us that there are plenty of false shepherds out there. These types appear to be for us but are really only out for themselves.  These may pretend to be followers of God but are actually followers of the evil one.  They have self-serving motives, such as the lust for money and power, rather than gently leading God’s sheep down a path of righteousness.  Jesus warns us to be aware, and that by inspecting their fruits, we will know the genuine article.

As followers of Christ, we will know His voice when it is Him calling us.  There will be no mistaking it.  God and His true representatives, authentic godly spiritual leaders, will never use manipulation, half-truths, or hidden motives to lead us.  The Good Shepherd will only guide us along the true path of righteousness, with purity and for our eternal benefit.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica to warn them about temptations that may come to those who act in the Shepherds name. A good shepherd only wants to lead for His name’s sake, not his own.

But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others. 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6 NKJV

Reflection

The Good Shepherd is with you today.  Do you know Him?  Today is a great day to invite Him into your heart and life.  He will never lead you astray.

When we turn to Christ, He will lead us to shepherds who will disciple us in purity and truth. When we find a true shepherd, we can do our part by supporting, encouraging and praying for them as they will undergo much opposition from the evil one.

Lord, help me to notice and appreciate the beauty that You have placed all around me today. Show me the true shepherds who will teach me and help me to grow closer to You. Amen.

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