Psalm 23 NCV
Isaiah 40:11 NKJV
Psalm 79:13 NKJV
John 10:11 NKJV
From the Beginning
One of my all time favorite attributes of God is Shepherd. From the beginning God is Shepherd who guides and guards.
A Shepherd who watches the flock is generally humble, wise, and good. The Shepherd loves the sheep and protects them day and night.
William Blake’s poem entitled The Shepherd describes the characteristics of the Shepherd well:
“How sweet is the shepherd's sweet lot!
From the morn to the evening he strays;
He shall follow his sheep all the day,
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.
For he hears the lambs' innocent call,
And he hears the ewes' tender reply;
He is watchful while they are in peace,
For they know when their shepherd is nigh.”
Blake’s description aptly depicts the Shepherd as one who gently follows the sheep letting them graze where they will. The sheep recognize the shepherd’s song. In turn, the Shepherd knows the “innocent call” of the sheep and the response of the ewes.
The Shepherd watches and cares for the sheep and in turn the sheep are at peace because they know the Shepherd is a waits and watches. He is their protector.
My favorite scripture about the Shepherd is the 23rd Psalm:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green pastures. He leads me to calm water. He gives me new strength.
He leads me on paths that are right for the good of his name.
Even if I walk through a very dark valley, I will not be afraid, because you are with me.
Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me.
You prepare a meal for me in front of my enemies.
You pour oil of blessing on my head; you fill my cup to overflowing.
Surely your goodness and love will be with me all my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”
I firmly believe it will help every person to have at least one ‘go to’ scripture that they can recite from memory in times of danger or trouble.
My ‘go to’ scripture is Psalm 23:1 from the New Century Version, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need.”
That one short verse has blessed me and covered me with God’s love more times than I can count. Whenever I need God’s love and protection I speak Psalm 23:1.
God is my Shepherd and He provides everything I need.
A shepherd makes sure the sheep have a good pasture so they have enough to eat.
A shepherd protects the sheep. When wolves come, the shepherd drives them away.
A shepherd cares for the sheep, especially the young ewes.
In Isaiah 40:11 we read:
“He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.”
Our response to the shepherd is found in Psalm 79:13,
“So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture,
Will give You thanks forever;
We will show forth Your praise to all generations.”
According to this Psalm of Asaph the response of the sheep in the pasture is one of thankfulness and praise throughout the generations. While the shepherd cares for the sheep, provides for the sheep, and protects the sheep, the response given to the shepherd has a double meaning.
The sheep (followers of the shepherd) receive provision from the Shepherd and as they continue to receive they respond to the shepherd with praise and thanksgiving. While the advantages of being thankful and grateful we’re not known in Biblical times, today we know that when we express gratitude and when we are thankful, our brain produces dopamine and serotonin. According to positivepsychology.com, “Gratitude is positively correlated to more vitality, energy, and enthusiasm to work harder.”
Our gratitude to God, our Shepherd is a gift that keeps on giving.
And why would we NOT be grateful? Our shepherd is THE Good Shepherd.
We read in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
There are times when it’s difficult to accept the results of our prayer requests. I was told by a wise pastor once that sometimes God says yes. Sometimes God says not yet. And sometimes God says no. We need to understand that God is the good shepherd who protects the sheep.
When God says no it’s for a reason. Often it’s because of something we cannot see or understand. When that happens the best response is for us to be grateful that the good shepherd said no in order to protect us.
It’s not easy. Being a parent and telling our children no is not easy, but sometimes it’s necessary.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Gratitude
Spend time being grateful about something God did for you.
In God, Deborah