Often throughout scripture, Jesus is referred to as our shepherd. One of the most famous passages of the Bible says,
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, 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.” (Psalm 23:1-4, NKJV)
However, in today’s culture, the term “shepherd” can be hard to grasp.
I thought this way until one day a certain image brought home the message Jesus was trying to get across when he referred to us as sheep and He the shepherd.
One day, my parents and I decided to go ATV riding near our home. It was a trail I hadn’t taken before, so I rode with my dad on the back of his ATV. It was a pleasant drive, and I was enjoying the beautiful day.
We’d been riding for at least an hour when we crested a hill and came into a small valley. My dad slowed, and I looked around him to find out why. I gasped and shrank back at what I saw.
Sheep were littered everywhere, in different stages of decay. The hollow eyes of a skull stared at me. Further up were scattered bones, whitewashed by the sun. Some were still partially covered in wool and muscle. I noticed movement ahead of me, and realized a sheep was lifting its head to look at me. Some were still alive!
My heart constricted for both the hope and despair the sheep had shown by lifting his head. He was barely alive. Crows pecked at him.
How I wanted to rescue him and take him out of this place! He didn’t belong in this valley with other dead sheep. But there was nothing I could do.
As if sensing this, the sheep laid his head again, resigned.
“Dad,” I said. “What’s wrong with them?”
“It’s a place for sick sheep,” he answered. “The shepherds bring them here to die.”
Once more, my heart tore. Why had their shepherd abandoned them? They were just left alone to die? It sounded so cruel.
As we headed out, I clung tighter to the cargo rack and prayed, God, now I know what you meant about “the shadow of the valley of death” you talked about in the Psalms. I just went through it.
Have you ever found yourself in a place just as hopeless? The Bible says we are like those sheep-lost, dying, and in need of rescue. In need of a Savior. The best thing about our Shepherd is that He does not abandon us in our darkest hour, our lowest low, or in the scariest moment of our life. No, instead He, “is with us” (Paraphrase, Psalm 23:4 NIV) and in one version, “close beside us.” (Paraphrase, Psalm 23:4 NLT.) He does not leave us to die in the valley of the shadow of death. Instead, He comes in with us.
So wherever you are today, however deep or dark or scary, you don’t have to be afraid. The Savior will come. Isaiah 40:11 says:
“He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.” (NLT.)
The Good Shepherd longs to deliver you from the valley.
Invite Him in, and I can promise you this: you may have entered the valley broken and scarred, but you will leave it nestled in His embrace.
The Shepherd is With You
AUGUST 12, 2019
I was terrified. I can bungee jump and manage airports and flights alone — and I’m blind! But … just let the dentist tell me I need a root canal, and oh girl, I collapse into a puddle of panic and tears.
That’s what happened. When the dentist broke the news, I reacted with an unfiltered, unrehearsed, unexpected meltdown just like a 5-year-old — except worse, because I am in my 50s!
So, days later, when it was finally time for the procedure, I had worked myself into a full-blown nervous wreck.
Laying in the endodontist’s chair with my heart racing, I prayed. I tried to talk myself out of my unreasonable fear. But it didn’t work.
When the endodontist entered the treatment room, I was covered with sweat and trying not to hyperventilate. I felt embarrassed to be so nervous and afraid. It felt silly making such a big deal out of such a little thing. No one has ever died from a root canal, for heaven’s sake!
As the procedure began, with drills buzzing and my blood pressure rising, I silently quoted Scripture.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV).
And, “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1, NIV). Another translation says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (ESV).
But, sister, I did want — I wanted to get out of that chair! I just needed to get myself together and control myself!
Have you ever felt that way?
I felt as needy as a sheep. Yet, as the procedure took place, I began to focus more on what I had instead of what I thought I needed. And, I began to feel cared for by my Shepherd.
I realized I misunderstood my true need. You see, I thought I needed to be in control; what I really needed was to be cared for. I thought I needed to be brave; what I really needed that day was to be held.
My friend, you may think you need to be in control, when what you really need is to be under God’s care.
You may have situations and seasons in your life that are far more consequential than an ordinary root canal.
You may have situations that bring out your fear. You have endured — or you may be right in the middle of enduring — a season that makes you feel so small and needy. You may feel alone and fragile, but you are not abandoned.
God not only cares about you, but during those times, He cares for you. He attends to your needs; He watches over your heart. He cares for you like a shepherd cares for his sheep.
Psalm 23 is God’s way of saying, “I made you to need Me. I am with you no matter what.”
In every situation, in every season, your Shepherd is with you. In the green pastures and beside the still waters, He is with you. Down life’s paths and through dark valleys, He is with you. In dental offices and at the cemetery, during the chemo treatments and in the delivery room, He is with you. At the table of blessing and in His house forever, He is with you.
That is the message of Psalm 23. The Shepherd is with you.
And, when we truly grasp who He is and what we have in Him, that’s when we can relax and say, “I lack nothing because I have my Shepherd.”
Jesus, the Good Shepherd
Scripture Reading — John 10:11-18
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me … I lay down my life for the sheep.”
John 10:14-15 —
Psalm 23, one of the best-known passages of the Bible, presents the Lord as the great shepherd who cares for his sheep—and Jesus declared that he is that shepherd.
The preceding psalm, Psalm 22, describes prophetically many details of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus connected his death to this psalm as he cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1; Mark 15:34). (See also Psalm 22:7-18, 22-25.)
Jesus is the good and supreme shepherd. He died in our place so that we could have eternal life with God.
As the good shepherd, he gives us provision, direction, and fellowship. He is the one who leads us to green pastures and still waters. He is the one who guides us in righteousness and walks with us through dark times. He is the one who gives us victory over our enemies. (See Psalm 23.)
He promises to walk with us here and to receive us when we leave this life and go to live with him (John 14:1-2).
As the supreme shepherd, Jesus will return in majesty and glory, and he will bring his glorious kingdom to fill the whole earth and make it new (Revelation 21:1-7).
Are you one of Jesus Christ’s sheep? Do you hear his voice? Are you ready to follow him?
Eternal God, I have relief, peace, and security, knowing that you are my shepherd. Help me submit to your will and rest entirely in your care. In your name I pray. Amen.
The Good Shepherd
By: Charles Spurgeon
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
DOES not this sound just like poetry or like singing? If you read the entire Psalm through, it is
written in such poetic prose that though it is not translated into meter, as it should have been, it
reads just like it. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green
pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: He leads me in the paths of
righteousness for His name’s sake.” It sounds like music for this, among other reasons, because it came from David’s heart. That which comes from the heart always has melody in it. When men
speak of what they know and from the depths of their souls testify to what they have seen, they
speak with what we call, eloquence, for true eloquence is speaking from the soul. Thus David spoke
of what he knew—what he had verified all his life—and this rendered him truly eloquent.
As “truth is stranger than fiction,” so the truth that David spoke is more sweet than even fancy
could have imagined. And it has more beauty than even the dream of the enthusiast could have
pictured. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” How naturally it seems to strike on the ear
as uttered by David who had, himself, been a shepherd boy! He remembers how he had led his
flock by the waters in the warm summer, how he had made them lie down in shady nooks by the
side of the river, how, on sultry days, he had led them on the high hills that they might feel the
cool air and how, when the winter set in, he had led them into the valleys that they might be hidden
from the stormy blasts. Well could he remember the tender care with which he protected the lambs
and carried them—and how he had tended the wounded of the flock. And now, appropriating to
himself the familiar figure of a sheep, he says, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” I will
try to preach experimentally tonight and I wonder how many of you will be able to follow the
psalmist with me while I attempt to do so?
First of all, there are some preliminaries before a man can say this—it is absolutely necessary
that he should feel himself to be like a sheep by nature, for he cannot know that God is his Shepherd
unless he feels in himself that he has the nature of a sheep. Secondly, there is a sweet assurance—
a man must have had some testimony of divine care and goodness in the past, otherwise he cannot
appropriate to himself this verse, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” And thirdly, there is a holy
confidence. I wonder how many there are here who can place all their future in the hand of God
and can join with David in uttering the last sentence, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”
I. First then, we say THERE IS A CERTAIN CONFESSION NECESSARY BEFORE A MAN
CAN JOIN IN THESE WORDS. We must feel that there is something in us which is akin to the
sheep. We must acknowledge that in some measure we exactly resemble it or else we cannot call
God our Shepherd.
I think the first apprehension we shall have if the Lord has brought us into this condition, is
this—we shall be conscious of our own folly—we shall feel how unwise we always are. A sheep is
one of the most unwise of creatures. It will go anywhere except in the right direction. It will leave
a fat pasture to wander into a barren one. It will find out many ways, but not the right way. It would
2 The Good Shepherd Sermon #3060
2 Tell someone today how much you love Jesus Christ. Volume 53
wander through a forest and find its way through ravines into the wolf’s jaws, but never by its
wariness turn away from the wolf. It could wander near his den, but it would not instinctively turn
aside from the place of danger. It knows how to go astray, but it knows not how to come home
again. Left to itself, it would not know in what pasture to feed in summer, or where to retire in