A brief new series of mine: Psalm 23. It’s just a little devotional series, designed to be used precisely as that: a devotional. In particular, this shall be a weekly one, taking the psalm one line at a time.
The Lord is my shepherd
Psalm 23 starts off with a familiar and beloved beginning. God, Yahweh, is my shepherd. Such a lovely and peaceful image.
Mostly, that is. There is more to God as shepherd than meets the eye. In Bible times, shepherds were not imagined as young boys playing with sheep. Instead, they were, well, like David. The sheep were huge financial investments, and very vulnerable ones. So the shepherds had to work in the elements to physically protect the sheep at all costs. It was not a coincidence that David the shepherd boy was already in great shape to be a warrior when he joined the army, for his duties had previously involved killing a lion and a bear with his bare hands to protect the sheep.
In fact, this that part is the main Biblical meaning to shepherding. The shepherd protects his sheep from all the terrifying and violent dangers which would kill them. He even uses violence himself to do so. The shepherd fights for the flock, even to the point of death.
This is, of course, exactly what God has done as our shepherd. He has fought and continues to fight for us. “He protects the lives of His godly ones; He rescues them from the power of the wicked”1, and “You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen2. Just as the shepherds like David did, God is our valiant protector. He even gave us His life to protect us, as Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”3.
And this is the beauty of it. Our Shepherd died for us, and now lives again, to never cease protecting us. With God as our shepherd, we never need to fear, for, as Paul says:
If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!