The Lord Our Shepherd

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The Lord has made and does make Himself known to us in many ways, all precious to our souls, supplying our temporal and spiritual needs. He has made Himself known to us first of all as our Savior; and the knowledge of His love to us, in that He died for our sins upon the cross, gave us much joy and caused us to love Him. Those who believe in Him should be certain of having eternal life, of having the forgiveness of sins, of being complete and accepted in Him, and they may be sure of being with Christ forever in glory (John 10:27-2927My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:27‑29); Eph. 1:6, 76To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Ephesians 1:6‑7)).
This is a settled matter and is now, and ever will be, our theme of praise. Besides this, it is blessed to know and enjoy Him as our Shepherd, supplying from His fullness all our needs, and meeting us in all our varied states of soul. There are at least two things noticeable about the Lord as our Shepherd, and His ways with us, "the sheep of His hand."
First. The Shepherd's loving care for His sheep.
Second. The Shepherd's presence is with His sheep in all the circumstances of their whole journey through this world to their home with Him.
"He calleth His own sheep by name,... He goeth before them." John 10:3, 43To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. (John 10:3‑4). Many a snare laid by the enemy of our souls to entrap us, He has seen and thrust aside. Many a pitfall His watchful eye detects, and carefully He leads us safely over them. Many a bypath, which would have taken us out of the way, He has conducted us past, and led us safely along the straight and narrow way. Such is our Shepherd's loving and faithful care of us.
With such a Shepherd we shall not want. He tends His sheep; He does not leave them to a hireling. We are His flock, and not the flock of any man. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures." These pastures are not an enclosure built on man's opinions and doctrines; and neither the intellect and natural mind, nor the pursuit of worldly pleasures and pastimes are green pastures.
The Lord our Shepherd makes us to lie down where we can feed upon His love, His grace, His goodness and glory, yea, upon "the things concerning Himself" from the Word of God, which the Holy Ghost delights to show to us, because we are beloved of Him. It is important to heed the exhortations, inspired by the Holy Ghost, of the apostles Peter and Paul—"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." 1 Pet. 2:22As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (1 Peter 2:2). "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim. 4:15, 1615Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Timothy 4:15‑16).
The place where the Shepherd guides His flock is "beside the still waters." The Lord would not have us to be unhappy and restless; He would have us enjoy His peace under all circumstances. "My peace I give unto you.... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid," He has said (John 14:2727Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)). In these perilous times, how much we need that word. What restfulness of spirit and what contentedness of mind it gives us to lean confidingly upon His love and care. Nothing can separate us from His love. And if, because of sorrows and roughness of the wilderness journey, or by reason of the rapid progress of infidelity and worldliness, our spirits have drooped in sadness, and we have become discouraged, let us cheer up; there is enough in Him to make the heart rejoice. He is the all-powerful, loving, gracious, and tender Shepherd. His glory has not been tarnished a bit. He is the Brightness of Eternal Glory.
"He restoreth my soul," or rather, the meaning is, "He invigorates," or reviveth "my soul"; it is like a good tonic to a person whose health is run down-it invigorates. The Lord can do this when we get discouraged, as He revived the two disciples on the way to Emmaus and restored their souls-first, by drawing out all that was on their heart, and then, in His love, removing their mistrust and banishing their discouragements by ministering the Word and comforting them, causing their hearts to burn within them, as He spoke to them by the way (Luke 24).
We have another instance of this when Paul was imprisoned in the castle, and in the stillness of night "the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." Acts 23:1111And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. (Acts 23:11).
Occupation with our circumstances will not invigorate us, because they are variable; nor can we turn to ourselves, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing"; and the heart, the Lord has told us, is "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:99The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)). Although all things, even the foundation of the earth and "the heavens... shall perish" and "wax old like a garment," the Lord our Shepherd is the eternal and unchangeable God.
The second thing we notice is
THE SHEPHERD'S PRESENCE
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." Psalm 23:44Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4). Many believers, it is feared, do not come to that valley, in the which the conscious presence of the Lord is realized and enjoyed, until death; but we should, and if we go on in daily communion with Him we will find this world to be the valley of the shadow of death. Nothing can affect our standing in Christ, thank God!-not even our state of soul can ever affect our standing. But we ought to live according to our standing. May we be more like Christ, and less earthly-minded! It is often only when a saint has to depart from earth that the world is given up. It is a glorious privilege, as well as a blessed responsibility, a s saints of God, to be counting ourselves, as we are in God's sight, dead with Christ; this would separate us from the world altogether, just as though we were dead to it; and it would then be to us the valley of the shadow of death. But we shall have His presence with us in it, and be able to say, "I will fear no evil." This is the confident expression of one who realizes the Shepherd's sustaining presence.
We are in God's sight dead and risen with Christ, just as though we had passed out of this world altogether, and are left to live here on earth as a heavenly people waiting to be taken up to heaven where Christ is. This world is like an inn to the believer to tarry in as a pilgrim and a stranger for a little while, at the expiration of which the Shepherd will take him to His home, which is our eternal dwelling place. In the meantime we have His presence with us, for He will never leave nor forsake us; and we need not fear, and "goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."