Saturday, April 21, 2012

Psalms: My Shepherd

When I was in the second grade, my teacher gave each of us a charcoal-sketched picture of a man holding a lamb. This picture was special to me, not just because of the teacher who gave it or because the lamb looked so content in the man’s arms. What made it special was the man holding the lamb. He had nail-scarred hands, and the look on His face matched the look on the lamb’s face. Both had their eyes closed, and the embrace they shared was one of love and contentment.
In John 10, Jesus is pictured as our good shepherd. But the image of a shepherd used to describe God came long before this in the Old Testament—in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Zechariah, and of course, Psalms.  Psalm 23, one of the most beloved psalms, describes the LORD as “my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1 NKJV). He is a personal shepherd, a personal guide who leads us through “green pastures” and by “still waters” (Psalm 23:2 NKJV). He nourishes us and restores our souls. Even when we have to walk through the valleys, we have reason not to be afraid. He is with us. The rod of His power and the staff of His protection keep us safe on treacherous paths and in uncertain times. He abundantly provides for our needs even when the enemy threatens us, and He brings us joy when we could have despaired. The LORD’s goodness and His mercy pursue us all of our days, and we can find no greater contentment than to dwell in His presence forever.

The God of all creation, the Lord over all things, is our shepherd. My shepherd. Your shepherd. All those who follow Him find Someone who will love them, cherish them, and take care of them forever. The lamb in my charcoal-sketched picture is each of us. With our God as our shepherd, we don’t have to be afraid of what life holds for us. We don’t have to be anxious when we walk through dark valleys. The shepherd who holds us is the God who cares for us perfectly. We are safe with Him, and free to pursue all the good things He has for us. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1 NKJV).

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