I wanted to share this message with you because I think it’s a reminder of why we are so important to God. It also reminds me that I, we are also the apple of God’s eye. I pray that the messages that I preach are always thought provoking and uplifting. Be encouraged! Pastor Stan
If we would be so bold as to make the claim, the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Creator of the Universe, is our shepherd, we first need to relinquish our claims of self-sufficiency and acknowledge our need of a shepherd. <!–split–>
What more can be said about the 23rd Psalm? How many of us were — thankfully — required to memorize it when we were yet barely able to read? How often have we heard it? How often have we recited it? How often have we thrown it up unto the Lord our God, frantically, as our own personal cry of the heart, when (and only when) it seemed as if all else had failed and we could not see the way before us?
Really, what promises this psalm puts forward! It is good for us to return to it often, savoring, pondering each line, rather than thoughtlessly repeating it as an exercise we have been required to commit to memory. Returning to it, even as adults, brings much in the way of rewards. Why has this psalm been commended to legions of youth over the centuries of the church’s life? Simply because it promises so much.
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want ….” This is quite a claim, after all! Who would dare make such a bold statement, a claim bordering on spiritual pride, even arrogance — the LORD, God, the Creator of the Universe, the God of the Exodus, is my shepherd; mine! Who is speaking, here? David? Jesus? Israel? Me? Us? Who could make such a claim?
The Shepherd Of Israel
Israel could, to be sure. The LORD was indeed Israel’s shepherd, as Israel made its collective way out of Egypt, out of slavery, and onto the land promised to them forever, with the LORD, yes, shepherding them with mighty acts of salvation. When Israel was in the wilderness, Israel “wanted” nothing; Israel lacked nothing. The LORD provided what Israel needed: manna for food, water out of a rock, leadership from Moses, correction when straying off to golden calves and to political rebellion. The clothes on their backs did not wear out; the sandals on their feet did not rot away. Surely God shepherded Israel; God provided for Israel as a shepherd provides for sheep.
Even before that time in the wilderness, when Israel was helpless in the iron grip of an oppressor requiring them, literally, to make bricks without straw — even then, God was Israel’s shepherd. The Israelites, ground down, could do nothing for themselves. God raised up Moses to lead them out from under Pharaoh’s heel — indeed, even before Moses was born, God was Moses’ shepherd. Moses, born of an unnamed Levite man and an unnamed Levite woman, was shielded from Pharaoh’s grip by the faith and the resourcefulness of his sister Miriam. And Moses, tending his flock in Midian after being driven from Egypt by faithless and ungrateful Israelites, was shepherded, against his own stubborn will, back to Egypt by a Voice calling from a burning bush.
Moses, himself shepherded by God, shepherded Israel out of Egypt. Then, during that time in the wilderness, when the Israelites could do nothing for themselves except complain, God provided food from heaven; God provided water from bare rock. God provided. God was Moses’ shepherd; God was Israel’s shepherd.
— to be continued in the June “Chimes”