This psalm is often referred to as "The Shepherd's Psalm" and that is pretty accurate. The beautiful relationships that are commonly depicted in the Bible are God as the father to His children and God as the shepherd of His flock. Obviously, this is the latter of the two. We will focus in the former part of the main text today. To think that God in Christ is deeply concerned about me as a person gives me great purpose and enormous meaning to my short sojourn on this planet. I hope it has the same affect on you. We often get too focused on the valleys of life and forget that God is the same God in the valley as He is on the Mountain. That is a wonderful song performed by Harold and Elsie Goins.
In this particular psalm, David is speaking not as a shepherd, though he was one, but as a sheep or one of the flock. David has his own life experiences as a shepherd from a youth (1Sa 16:19) and who better to know the importance of the shepherd than he? After all, David knew firsthand that the lot in life of any sheep depended on the man who owned that sheep. That is why David is quick to boast aloud, "The Lord is my shepherd..." Are you quick to tell others that? Do you tell others that the Lord is you owner, manager, caregiver, and sustainer? I pray you do my friends. It is a staggering fact that Christ, through whom such an enormous universe was created, desires to call himself my shepherd and invites me into his fold to be one of his sheep. He said, "I am the good shepherd..." Jn 10:1-14 If the Lord is our shepherd we should know about His character and understand His ability, shouldn't we?
God has brought us into being and He alone should know best how to care for and understand us. It is no accident that God has decided to call us sheep. We, mankind, are just like sheep. We are timid, fearful, stupid, stubborn, and we have bad habits. We will do things that we know will kill us and cause years of suffering later in life! Yet, with all these bad characteristics, Jesus loves us (Jn 13:34), bought us with his blood (Mt 26:28), calls us by his name (Acts 4:12), and is the doorway to the best pasture (Jn 10:9). If those characteristics do not stir up desire to be a sheep in His fold, I am not sure what will. This entire psalm goes on to recount how the Good Shepherd spares no pain for the welfare of his sheep. I read a story from a shepherd in which he tells about how a neighboring shepherd kept his flock. The man said that his neighbor should not have been allowed to be a shepherd as his flock was sickly, thin, weak, and riddled with disease and parasites. He said the neighbors flock frequently lined up along the fence to his fold and stared at his flock, the relationship he had with his flock, and the pastures he provided for his flock.
How many people in the world are hurting and do not know what it is like to be under the care of the Good Shepherd Jesus? They are under the rule of a tyrant. Their shepherd is a liar and a murderer. Jn 8:44 He desires to destroy the souls of the sheep by snatching away the things that are good for the sheep. Mt 13:19 Those who belong to him are lined up along the fence of our fold and are staring at us and our shepherd. The problem is we are not sharing with them how to enter our fold. We are satisfied that we are in the fold and not concerned with anything but ourselves.
You know every shepherd has to mark his sheep. Shepherds usually cut a distinctive mark in the ear of their sheep so others will be able to identify the owner of that sheep from a distance. Even in the ancient times slaves had their ears pierced by their owners so for life they were marked to belong to that house. I love how the plan of salvation comes into play here. Do we believe that our Good Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep and have the faith that he can raise us up to eternal life? If so, we must conform ourselves to his rules because our ways are contrary to his. That is repentance. Out of love for our shepherd do we confess him to others? He washes us clean as we are baptized in the likeness of his death burial and resurrection. Finally, we are to live a life that is according to his teachings and commands. That my friends, is being in the fold of the Good Shepherd.
Then we are to be marked by our shepherd. The mark we are to have is love and unity. Jn 17:22-26 If we do not have that mark, we are not going to be easily identified from a distance as one of Jesus sheep! No matter what we claim to believe or we we say. Mt 7:20-22 I read that the marking of the sheep is painful to both parties involved. Jesus tells us to deny ourself, take up our cross daily, and follow him in Lk 9:23Jesus is their shepherd somehow grants them the benefits of his care. Many think they do not have to submit to Jesus' management without paying the price of forfeiting their foolish and fickle way of leading their own lives. WE CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS! Either we belong or we don't.
We must search our hearts and motives. Ask yourself, "Do I carry the mark of unity and love of my shepherd? Do I belong to Him according to how he says I must belong? Do I understand He owns me because He paid for me with his blood? Do I respond to His authority and acknowledge His ownership? Do I find freedom and fulfillment with His care? Do I have a sense of purpose and contentment to be under His direction?" If so, we most assuredly can shout aloud, "THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD!" I don't know about you, but I am thrilled to belong to Him. It is that belonging that gets me through the many ups and downs of life because the Lord is my shepherd. Today, tell someone about your Good Shepherd.
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
We must hear the Word of God: Rom 10:17; Acts 4:4
We must believe or have faith: Heb 11:6; Acts 16:31
We must repent of our sins: Lk 13:3; Acts 17:30
We must confess Christ before others: Mt 10:32; Acts 8:37
We must be immersed into Christ (baptized) Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38
We must be faithful: Rev 2:10; Acts 14:22