I am Guided by the Good Shepherd, I have been offered rest, Who I am in Christ

Invitation to Rest

Hear the Good Shepherd’s gentle call. He invites you, his sheep, into His rest. In any season of life–storms, paradises, sorrows and joys–he is extending his generous offer. “Come, and know my rest.”

The Good Shepherd
A Davidic psalm.
The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff — they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
as long as I live.

Psalm 23, HCSB

I am Guided by the Good Shepherd

The Comfort of Discipline

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 23:4, NKJV

Many years ago a second cousin of mine sang ‘Daddy’s Hands’ to my great-grandfather at a family reunion. I’d never heard that song until that day, but after she sang it, the words stayed with me. Now, twenty-plus years later, I can still hear them—still sing them.

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was crying.

Daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong.

Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle, but I’ve come to understand,

There was always love in Daddy’s hands. (Holly Dunn)

Walking through the valley doesn’t sound like fun, but the part that strikes me in this passage isn’t that dark place—it’s David’s source of comfort. God’s rod and staff. Instruments of discipline, but also instruments of protection.

This is such a powerful picture. Recently, my husband and I had to make a choice that affected our daughter. Her softball coach wanted to practice on Sunday afternoons. Now, we’re not legalists about the Sabbath, especially knowing that the Hebrew Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday, but there’s something sacred about that day. And when I sat down to really think about it, God’s command to take a Sabbath was, like so many of His other commands, a gift. Rest is a gift, not means of bondage.

God’s commands are like that rod and staff. Though often a source of discipline, they can be a means of protection, and as such, a source of comfort. And in either case, there’s always love in Daddy’s hands.

I am Guided by the Good Shepherd

I Shall Not Want . . .

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. ~Psalm 23:1-3a, NKJV

The aching of the soul is as real as it is undefined. Longing tugs hard, hunger rumbles long, and the void is ever felt. But when the good Shepherd adopts this hungry sheep, that starving little lamb is satisfied. He will not let my soul go forever unfulfilled. He will not leave me in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters.

But what if I’m tired while in the hot, dry desert? Continue on, little sheep. There is a better place of rest. I will lead you there, I promise, and there you can lie in the lush quilt of green.

How about a drink here—I can smell the waters, hear them tumbling over boulders and down the mountain. Continue on, little sheep. It is not safe here.

But it’s water—it’s what I want. I know a better place. You will not go thirsty, and you will be safe.

The journey can be long and frustrating. Sometimes frightening. But the Good Shepherd, the one who adopted me, gave me a name, and guides my path, He will restore my soul. He did not call me only to leave me empty again. He shepherds me with love; I will follow Him all the days of my life.

I am Guided by the Good Shepherd

I am Guided by the Good Shepherd: A Joint Post

A Psalm of David. 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.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

~Psalm 23, NKJV

From Jen:

I remember my dad reciting this Psalm at my grandfather’s funeral. Pretty common practice, I think, except my dad made it personal. He spoke as if he were speaking to God, not reciting to a group of mourners.

Ever wonder if something has become too familiar? I grew up in Colorado, at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains. I’d lived in those mountains during the early part of my childhood. But I didn’t really appreciate their glory until I was an adult living on the Great Plains of Nebraska. Back when I was a kid, they were the peaks in my back yard. Now they are the astonishing handy-work of God, and every chance I get to go hiking is like an intensive one-on-one conference between me and my Creator.

I think Psalm 23 may be like that. Churched all my life, I’ve heard it. A lot. But this week, what if we hike through it? What if we take a stroll near those still waters? Come to know that rod and staff that are comforting? Taste the goodness and mercy David spoke of?

Maybe it will become more than a backdrop in the yard of our faith. Are you up for it?

From Susan:

I am.  If we begin at the base of this mountain, we begin with the first sentence and the premise of the whole psalm: The Lord is my shepherd.

When I first moved to West Africa, we lived in the midst of a stunning rainforest dotted with tiny villages connected by rough dirt roads.  Each village was overflowing with livestock of every kind, including sheep.  But no one shepherded them.  They just wondered around as they pleased, mingling with the goats and chickens and ducks and guinea fowl.

As my husband and I drove our truck over all the bumps and rocks between the villages, the animals scurried out of the road, except for the sheep.  They just stood there, looking blankly at the pickup, oblivious to the fact that we could squash them.  Undoubtedly, they were the stupidest of all the creatures there. I’d often ask my husband, as we laid on the horn trying to urge one from our path, “Why in the world don’t the Africans shepherd these things?”

I, too, need a shepherd. Without one, I will blithely walk in front of oncoming trucks.  I will make unwise life decisions.  I will choose to stop and nibble on the tuft of grass in the middle of the road. I will seek to meet my immediate needs without considering the long-term consequences.

And the awe-inspiring thing is that God himself has taken the job.  The Creator of the Universe has decided to guide me, to keep me safe, to shepherd me.

May we stand at the base of the mountain and just marvel about Who our shepherd is today.