“The Lord is my shepherd.”
In order for the Lord to be a Shepherd who will lead us and care for us, we must first know Him as the Lord of our life. The term Lord in this context is master or ruler. Until Jesus becomes the Lord of our life, He will not be able to lead us to the places of blessing He desires to take us. Step one is surrender ourselves to Him and submit to His authority over every part of our life.
“I shall not want.”
Once we have submitted our life to Jesus as Lord, He can lead us. The results of being led by the Lord is that we will have no want. We will be content, and the longing of our heart for love and a purpose in our life will be satisfied. All the needs we have will be taken care of as long as we keep Jesus first as Lord and Shepherd of our life.
Though the Lord is our Shepherd, we will still suffer losses during our life. Those we love will die; friends will come and go; and material blessings will be gained and lost. There will be suffering, pain, and sorrow—but in all these things; there will be a knowledge that we are loved by God. We have a Shepherd who is caring for us; tending to our injuries, and comforting us in our losses. There will be no want for answers to life’s problems and difficulties; if we abide-in and stay close to our Shepherd. There will be a confidence about us; though doubts will come and fears will never cease. If the Lord is our Shepherd, we will always return to a place of peace—knowing that God is for us and He will never leave or forsake us. In all these things, we will have no want; for our Shepherd will be our provider and guide through all of life’s perils.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures.”
As the Lord, our shepherd will lead us into peace—which is typified here by the description: lying down in a green pasture. Sometimes He will bring us to a trial so that we can learn to lay down in peace—even in the midst of difficulties. Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of calm and inner tranquility during storms and conflicts. This is the peace that passes all understanding, which the Bible describes (Philippians 4:7). This calming peace is an ever-present part of the believers’ life, when they make Jesus their Shepherd.
“He leads me beside the still waters.”
A river or creek has areas of rough water as well as calm. Sometimes a person will attempt a crossing at a place where the waters are deep and treacherous. Often, sheep are not aware of these dangers and they may try to cross at the wrong location and place themselves in danger. When the Lord is our Shepherd, though we may get ourselves into precarious situations, He will take our failures and errors and turn them around for good because we love and trust Him.
“He restores my soul.”
Nothing in this present world can restore the human soul, like the Lord—our Shepherd. We may try every exciting new adventure and passing pleasure, but they will often leave us empty and unsatisfied. Only a living and personal relationship with the Shepherd can give us the satisfaction we are searching for in our life. When we sin and fail and feel hopeless, our Shepherd comes and forgives us. He restores our soul and brings us back to a place of hope once again. There are countless empty souls who walk the streets of every city, in despair. They have no joy, no sense of purpose—lacking in direction and purpose. Any person who comes to the Shepherd for relief—finds it. Every broken heart is mended. All loneliness and despair is removed. Peace that overcomes strife, like a soothing melody—encompasses the mind and spirit. The moment that any person surrenders their life to Jesus and makes Him Lord of their life, He becomes a Shepherd who can daily restore our soul and give purpose to everything we do.
“He leads me in the path of righteousness for His names sake.”
To be led along the path of righteousness is to follow a precise and predetermined plan of action. By following the Shepherd’s course—being led by Him, He keeps the sheep healthy, happy and nourished. He leads us into the correct path, along places where we can receive all that we need. The sheep, left to themselves, tend to follow the same paths over and over. As a result, they often get themselves into “a rut.”
The Shepherd will keep us on the right path and prevent us from going over the same failures and hurts again and again. If we persist and wear a rut into our path, revisiting old mistakes, regrets and disappointments, the Shepherd will lift us up and set us on the correct path—fresh and new.
“…though I walk through the valley….You are with me…I will fear no evil; For You are with me.”
Thus far; the Shepherd has been leading us. We are able to lie down in green pasture, beside still waters, taking us to the best places, feeding us along the way. In Israel, the shepherd leads the sheep on a long journey to the high country—up into the mountains where the finest and sweetest grasses are located. In order to get to these wonderful places, the shepherd will—at times, lead the sheep through difficulties. All mountain ranges come as a result of a valley, and it is for certain that as our Shepherd leads us to the pinnacles of the life He has planned for us, there will also be valleys of struggle to go through.
The shepherd’s goal is to slowly lead the sheep through each valley and into the meadows full of green grass and still waters. It takes quite a long time to make the journey into the places the Lord has in mind for us. Though the journey will be long, the Shepherd who guides us, is patient and He knows the right way.
Your dark valleys lead to high mountains and places of peace and refreshing. The Shepherd understands every difficulty you will encounter in your life. He is not just a wonderful Shepherd; He is our God—the One who made all things. He knows that leading you through the good as well as the bad will cause you to grow closer to Him and trust Him more as the journey proceeds before you. One day, the journey will come to an end, and all the dark valleys will end—never to return. Until that time, the Shepherd will be there with you and never leave you.
“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
A rod is used for discipline, correction and deliverance.
A staff is used for guidance, comfort and rescue.
One of the purposes of the shepherd’s rod is to discipline the sheep. Whether we like it or not, there are moments when we need to be disciplined. Because we are His sons and daughters, He will correct us when we get off the correct path. When we feel the searing pain of His discipline, we might wonder if the Lord still loves us. It is by the existence of His discipline when we suffer through periods of pain and suffering that we are certain we are His—for only the children of God are disciplined by God.4 As a Father who loves His children, He corrects us, so that we can learn to walk in the life of blessing which He has prepared for us.
The staff has a hooked section at the top which is used to pull the sheep back from the brink of danger, or to rescue one who is caught in a swift current. The shepherd carries the rod and the staff with him at all times. Both are needed; both will be used. The strait end is used as the rod, to correct and guide; the crooked end is used to rescue or pull back.
By David’s vivid description of the Lord as our Shepherd, we see that in His love. He will do whatever it takes to cause our growth, either by correcting us through painful trials or rescuing us from our failures. He will also follow close behind to snatch us from the edge of destruction, or gently guide us with the staff—as it is needed.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
The person who follows the Lord with all of his heart will encounter danger by enemies who seek to destroy the devoted follower. The Shepherd knows that the enemy is no real threat to the sheep. He may make accusations and ridicule the devotion of the follower of the Shepherd, but the enemy cannot touch the sheep unless He permits it. Even in times of peril, the watchful eyes of our Shepherd never stray from a careful observance of every step His sheep make. The good end intended by the Shepherd is always the guiding influence of every trial and peril allowed in the life of His sheep.
The promise that is given to the faithful follower of Jesus is that on the final day of this present world, when the Lord removes us from this earth and takes us to be where He is—all our adversaries will observe a great banquet table prepared by our Shepherd. Set out for us in the presence of our enemies and seated with us at this table will be all those who have loved and trusted in the Shepherd—all the days of their life.
From this point forward, we shall no longer be called “desolate,” “destitute,” “meaningless,” or “insignificant.” We will be known as kings and priests of the Most High God. We will forever live with Him and be publicly displayed for all creation to see that we are in Him, and He is in us.
“You anoint my head with oil.”
Anointing is an action of the Holy Spirit, whereby we are prepared and empowered by the Lord for certain works that He has specifically prepared for us. In the Old Testament, when the oil was poured over the head of an individual who was being anointed by God, the oil would run down the head and face—into the beard and onto his garments. 5This illustrated a massive overflow of God’s Spirit in the life of the believer —displaying the abundance of His Spirit, poured out upon us when we ask Him to fill us and empower us to do what He has asked.
Our Shepherd earnestly desires that we would experience the overwhelming joy of His presence as He uses each one of us to accomplish His will. One of the most amazing truths in coming into a new relationship with God is His desire to work through us. Not because He needs us, for He needs no one to accomplish His will. His desire to use His people to accomplish His purposes—originates from His desire to bless us. We were created for service. When we give of ourselves in benefiting other people—our own hearts are filled with Joy.
It is because He loves us so dearly, that we are given the opportunity to accomplish things for Him which will give us a deep sense of satisfaction. It is for this reason that He calls us to be His witnesses and tell others how they can also experience Jesus and find the fulfillment their hearts long for.