There are a few snippets of the Bible that most people know, whether they are Christians or not. One of these is Psalm 23, the Shepherd’s Psalm, which begins, “The Lord is my shepherd…”
The psalm describes the journey of a shepherd and his sheep. If you look at it closely, you will realise that it is also a beautiful analogy of your journey through life, when you are a friend of God.
The journey of life starts with the promise that,
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
That’s a wonderful way to start your life. Many of us, when we were little, learnt that we should trust in God.
As we started out in life, we discovered that life was good. We lay down in green pastures. We walked beside quiet waters, Our soul was refreshed. And all the time, whether we were always conscious of it or not, the Shepherd was leading us. We learnt the right paths along which we should walk.
But the middle of the Psalm suddenly gets dark; suddenly you are walking “through the darkest valley.” And so it is with our lives. We will all come to the point where our faith in the Shepherd will be tested in the darkness of the valleys of life. Fear will buffet your life. How will you respond?
The psalm challenges you that there is a way to walk through the darkest valleys of life without fear. The centre of this psalm holds the key: “for you are with me.” The never-failing presence of the Shepherd in your life is the constant in this psalm, which banishes all fear.
In the journey of life you realise that the Shepherd’s mercies never end.
The Shepherd uses his rod to tap each of his sheep one by one and count them as they enter the sheepfold. He knows who are his. You are counted as his. The Shepherd uses his staff to defend his sheep against predators, and to rescue his sheep from dangerous places. His rod and his staff are symbols of the Shepherd’s care and protection of his sheep. These bring comfort to you as you walk through the valleys of life.
Even in those tough times, even when surrounded by wolves and other vicious enemies, you can feast in peace under the Shepherd’s protective care. You can have such gladness so that your cup of joy and blessings will overflow.
The Psalm ends with the promise of never-ending goodness and love. One day, you will look back and see how the mercies and grace of God have pursued you relentlessly though every dark valley of your life.
You will be able to end your journey through this world, knowing that the Shepherd’s mercies never end. Indeed, for a child of God, the end is not the end. The reward for the one who has made Jesus his shepherd will be an everlasting dwelling-place in the house of the Lord.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever (Psalm 23:6, NIV).
Article supplied with thanks to Dr Eliezer Gonzalez.
About the Author: Dr Eli Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Good News Unlimited and the presenter of the Unlimited radio spots, and The Big Question.