I love to meditate on and observe throughout all of Scripture, the great care that God takes of His believers - particularly in this all time favorite of mine.
1. They know their Shepherd
2. They know His voice
3. They hear Him calling them each by name
4. They love Him
5. They trust Him
6. They follow Him.
These Psalms form a trilogy.
· Psalm 22 - The Good Shepherd - the Psalm of the Cross, as Christ gives His life for the sheep John 10:11.
· Psalm 23 - The Great Shepherd - "brought again from the dead through the blood of the everlasting covenant." Heb 13:20 tenderly cares for the sheep.
· Psalm 24 - The Chief Shepherd appears as King of glory to own and reward the sheep, 1Peter 5:4.
Under a metaphor borrowed from scenes of pastoral life, with which David was familiar, he describes God's providential care in providing refreshment, guidance, protection, and abundance, and so affording grounds of confidence in His perpetual favor.
- The way of duty is the truly pleasant way.
- The work of righteousness in peace.
- In these paths we cannot walk, unless - God lead us into them, and lead us on in them.
- Discontent and distrust proceed from unbelief; an unsteady walk is the consequence: let us then simply trust our Shepherd's care, and hearken to his voice.
- The valley of the shadow of death may denote the most severe and terrible affliction; between the part of the flock on earth and that which is gone to heaven, death lies like a dark valley that must be passed in going from one to the other. But even in this there are words which lessen the terror. It is but the shadow of death: the shadow of a serpent will not sting, nor the shadow of a sword kills. It is a valley, deep, dark, and miry; but valleys are often fruitful, and so is death itself - fruitful of comforts to God's people.
Viewpoint of a Sheep
a. It is a walk through the valley: I shall not be lost in this valley, but get safe to the mountain on the other side.
b. Death is a 'king of terrors,' but not to this sheep of Christ. When I come to die, God will rebuke the enemy; He will guide me with his rod, and sustain me with his staff.
c. There is enough in the gospel to comfort me when I am dying, and underneath me are the everlasting arms. I am the Lord's, and I feast at His table, upon the provisions of His love.
d. Satan and wicked men are not able to destroy my comforts, while I am anointed with the Holy Spirit, and drink of the cup of salvation which is ever full. Past experience teaches me to trust that the goodness and mercy of God will follow me all the days of my life, and it is my desire and determination, to seek my happiness in the service of God here, and my hope to enjoy His love for ever in heaven. While here, the Lord can make any situation pleasant, by the anointing of His Spirit and the joys of His salvation. But those that would be satisfied with the blessings of His house must keep close to the duties of it.
"The Lord is my shepherd." We must cultivate the spirit of assured dependence upon our heavenly Father. I know that his grace will be sufficient for me. I have all things and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because "The Lord is my shepherd."
This beautiful Psalm is a picture of God feeding, guiding, governing, and defending us.
When I studied herdsmen this morning, I noticed that some of the flock kept near the shepherd, and followed wherever He went without the least hesitation, while others strayed about on either side, or loitered far behind; he frequently turned round and scolded them in a sharp, stern cry, or threw a stone behind them.
Our Saviour says that the good shepherd, “…when he putteth forth his own sheep, goeth before them, and they follow.” John 10:4. This is true to the letter - they are so tame and so trained that they follow their keeper with the utmost obedience. He leads them forth from the fold, or from their houses in the villages, just where he pleases. There are many flocks in these districts, and each one takes a different path, and it is his business to find pasture for them.
It is necessary, therefore, that they should be taught to follow, and not to stray away into the unfenced fields of corn which lie so temptingly on either side. Any that wander are sure to get into trouble. The shepherd calls sharply from time to time to remind them of his presence. They know his voice, and follow on; but, if a stranger calls, they stop short, lift up their heads in alarm, and, if it is repeated, they turn and flee, because they know not the voice of a stranger.
The shepherd goes before, not merely to point out the way, but to see that it is practicable and safe. He is armed in order to defend his charge, and in this he is very courageous. Many adventures with wild beasts occur, not unlike that recounted by David (1Samuel 17:34-36).
They infrequently attack the flock in front of the shepherd, and he must be ready to do battle at a moment's warning. And when the thief and the robber come (and they do), the faithful shepherd has often to put his life in his hand to defend his flock.
Some sheep always keep near the shepherd, and are his special favorites. Each of them has a name, to which it answers joyfully, and the kind shepherd is always distributing to these - choice portions that he gathers for that purpose. These are the contented and happy ones. They are in no danger of getting lost or into mischief, nor do wild beasts or thieves come near them.
The great body, however, are about self, intent upon personal pleasures or selfish interests; they run from bush to bush, searching for a variety or delicacies, and only now and then lift their heads to see where the shepherd is, or, rather where the general flock is, lest they get so far away as to occasion a remark in their little community, or receive rebuke from their keeper.
Others are restless and discontented, jumping into every body's field, climbing into bushes, and even into leaning trees, hence they often fall and break their limbs. This costs the good shepherd incessant trouble.
Goodness supplies our needs, and mercy blots out our sins. Doesn’t this give you great confidence in God? I could not recall all the various times that God has given me quiet and contentment in my mind; a mind otherwise lost in a maze of congestive thinking.
There is nothing hard in understanding God’s authority and our need for true obedience; He rules, guides, feeds, and protects; and we follow, obey, love and trust Him.
I Love You,