We’ve heard it so many times: the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. I’ll go out on a limb here and make a bold assumption – there is a very small chance that you own sheep. Maybe even a smaller chance that you yourself are a shepherd.
So then, how are we to understand David’s analogy, where He calls the Lord our Shepherd?
The Lord is My Shepherd
It is one of the most common analogies used throughout the Bible. God is likened to a shepherd. He takes care of His sheep, He knows them by name, and He leads them in paths of righteousness. He leaves the ninety-nine to find the lost one.
When asked who God is, we would be quick to say that God is love. We would probably describe Him as holy, and righteous. He is also good. All of these statements are true and biblical. But in the Middle Eastern culture, the answers can get a little more metaphorical.
We may hear in response that God is a strong tower. He is a rock. The Lord is my shepherd. In this context, the Lord would be likened to something that we can touch, smell or see – something that we can relate to. By that, we could almost draw an image of his personable nature.
In Psalm 23, David is using more than just poetic language and imagery. He is turning to his own experience as a shepherd. With that, He is painting a picture of how God relates to us. And let’s be honest. Sheep are not the most intelligent of animals. But they know to recognize the voice of their shepherd.
Do We Recognize the Voice of Our Shepherd?
We read about God being the good shepherd in the Psalms. In the New Testament, Jesus reiterates that comparison. He said He was a loving and caring shepherd who looks after His flock. And then He added, my sheep know my voice.
Something interesting happens when a shepherd in Israel is out in the desert with his flock at sunset. When the sun is up and everything is safe and visible, the shepherd lets his sheep go in front of him and roam around. But as the sun starts setting, He moves closer to be right amongst his sheep.
That’s a great representation of what we see in Psalm 23. As the Lord leads us, in the dark valley He comes closer. God is with us, to comfort us, to speak truth over us, and to show us the way.
For the One
In the darkest time, He draws near. Maybe you are facing some great challenges, or you no longer have what it takes to fight on. God cares about the details of your life. He wants to draw near to lead you through it all. No matter if it’s family problems, health issues, financial troubles – there is nothing too big for Him.
He is going to come close in the darkness and be with you. Just like that. He will make a way for you. As our shepherd, the one who knows us but also knows the fields we are in, He is our greatest hope.
Jesus said He would leave the 99 to go after the one. When you feel alone, that is exactly when He is chasing after you. He will not walk on with the entire flock when He knows that one of His beloveds got lost.
God wants to leave the crowd for you, to show you that he’s paying attention to the details of your life. It doesn’t matter if you’ve taken a step back when he’s taking two steps forward. He loves you. No matter what you’ve done to distance yourself from Him, he is still drawing near to you.
To hear more about our Shepherd leading the way in the desert, follow IsraelU and watch the following video:
This article originally appeared on FIRM, January 21, 2021, and reposted with permission.