There is no greater reward, no deeper satisfaction, than that of seeing his sheep contented, well fed, safe and flourishing in his care. He goes to a great deal of trouble to provide them with the finest grazing, ample winter feed and clean water. He provides shelter from storms, protection from the enemies and the diseases and parasites to which his sheep are susceptible. That is what a good shepherd is all about and he gives everything to it.
Jesus said, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” John 10:11.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.”
Sheep will refuse to lie down unless these requirements are met. (1) They must be free from all fear. (2) There must be no tension between the members of the flock. (3) They must not be aggravated with flies or parasites. (4) And they must be free from hunger. But when a sheep has eaten enough, when it is free from fear, tension and aggravation, it will lie down.
Our shepherd provides us with the spiritual food we need. If we hunger and thirst after righteousness, he has promised to fill us. All our needs are met in Christ. That's why “he makes us to lie down in green pastures.”
He also “leads us beside the still waters.” Just as sheep need water to survive. Jesus made it clear that the thirsty souls of men and women can only be fully satisfied by coming to Him. In John 7:37, He stated, “If any man thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” Our Shepherd leads us beside the still waters.
“He Restores My Soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness.”
There is an Old English shepherd's term called a “cast” sheep. A sheep will turn over on its back and can't get back up again. It will lie there with its feet flaying frantically in the air and if the shepherd doesn't arrive within a short time, the sheep will die. Hence, the thought behind the parable of the ninety-nine and the one that went astray. If one is missing, he thinks, “One of my sheep is cast and I've got to find it.” When he finds it lying helpless. He will turn the sheep over on its side, rub its legs to restore circulation, then lift it to its feet. After a while the sheep will stumble and stagger, and eventually walk steadily and surely.
Isn't that how the Lord treats us? We stumble and fall, we become so helpless. And yet our shepherd is patient and tender in getting us back on our feet.
“All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned, every one, to his own way.” Isaiah 53:6.
So, we need a shepherd who can lead us in paths of righteousness, and our Lord does just that. Our shepherd doesn't stand behind us telling us to go on and do this or to do that. But, he leads the way for us. “For to this you were called, because Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21.
Our Lord will always lead us in the paths of righteousness. He said, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.”
There are going to be valleys in life for all of us. Some of us will have many valleys, some few. Some of us have deep valleys, some not so deep. But, somewhere in our journey, we must all cross the valley of the shadow of death, for “It is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Its time may be unknown, but it's certain to come. And, we must walk it one by one, unless we walk it with Christ.
“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
To those of us who are God's sheep, the authority, power, might and guidance of the Lord are indeed a comfort.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
The Lord takes care of us in the presence of our enemies. In effect, He has gone ahead of us and checked things out. He has already been “tempted in all points like as we are” Hebrews 4:15. He has known our sorrows and endured our struggles in order to help us through.
“You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.”
In fact, the Lord gives us everything we could need and more. Paul expressed that thought in this way, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we could ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” Ephesians 3:20.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.”
The sheep with a shepherd like this knows that he is in a privileged position. Our Lord truly cares about us as a good shepherd. No matter what else may happen, we know goodness and mercy will follow us.
Then we can say with confidence, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." For "The Lord is my Shepherd."