Knowing the Shepherd

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Psalm 23:1-4

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 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.

The familiar opening of the 23rd Psalm brings comfort to people of faith – for the Lord God, can be known.

Knowing God, according to Jesus, is eternal life, life of the quality of the eternal God as well as the quantity of the eternal God.

Knowing God better is St Paul’s prayerful aspiration for his fledgling churches of Asia minor.

Knowing God as the shepherd, a familiar pastoral image as well as a regal one, leads the psalmist to affirm “I shall not want”. I know God, he cares – I’m fed and led into good places, my soul restored.

So, come what may, because he leads me; it will be well. Even if I pass through the valley of the shadow of death – he, the shepherd, will bring me through.

The valley of the shadow of death holds no fear; just as the shadow of a dog can’t bite me, the shadow of a sword can’t cut me so the shadow of death can’t hurt me.

Such a claims of knowledge of the infinitely “other” may set on edge the teeth of the Anti-theist, it could lead the atheist to despair at a persons’ gullibility, but it has been and remains a comfort for many.

To the Christian the reason for our comfort (and confidence) is that Jesus, the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, has triumphed over death through the events of Easter and that we who trust in his leading appropriate the fruits of his victory by faithful obedience to him.

As we read the psalm we notice the peace and provision of God is in the present tense; the Lord is my shepherd, not was my shepherd or will be my shepherd.

Knowledge of God is a present reality requiring a personal relationship who we meet in the person of Christ; the Lord is my Shepherd, not the shepherd or a shepherd – I know his lordly pastoral presence with me.

For the Christian there is no promise that evil is banished, or dark shadows will not come over us; simply a confidence that God has made himself known as the Shepherd, and provides for all our needs – and will lead us through all the seasons of life.

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.

To know that for yourself is a rich blessing indeed.

 

Nick

 


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