As a young man, the future king of Israel David spent much time in the field caring for the flocks of his father Jesse. The shepherd of David’s day lived a solitary existence and was expected to meet all the needs of the sheep. He led them to pasture, protected them from hungry predators, and watched over the birth of lambs. It was a lonely, smelly, dirty, and dangerous job, but David did it well. All that time spent in the field served to deepen his relationship with God, and the many hours spent watching sheep prepared him for his role as King and Shepherd of the nation of Israel.
He composed a song about his experience keeping the sheep. We know it as Psalm 23, one of the best known passages of scripture contained in the Bible. My mother would often read this Psalm to me as a child before I went to sleep, and when I was born again in my teenage years, I still remembered the opening words. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
I have quoted those words thousands of times, and am even more convinced of their validity and applicability to life today. The Hebrew word translated “want” actually means to lack or fail. We could easily read it this way “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not lack or fail.” The world around us is full of lack and failure. What better words could we rely upon for confidence in these uncertain times?
The promised Descendent of King David described Himself this way: ““I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15) Jesus paid the ultimate price to protect His sheep by dying on the cross. He took our sins, sickness, and pain upon Himself and purchased our freedom through His sacrifice. Risen from the dead and alive today, the Good Shepherd promises us “Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:9-10)
FOLLOWING HIS PLAN
Jesus promises us the same thing proclaimed by David 3000 years ago “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want, lack, or fail.” Because Jesus gave his life for us, we are saved and find good and safe pasture. We shall not lack salvation. We shall not lack finances. We shall not lack healing and health, and WE SHALL NOT FAIL! We may experience setbacks, but we are never failures, for the Scripture proclaims ” For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again…(Proverbs 24:16) As long as we continue to get up, we are not failures. The Good Shepherd helps us to rise up through the power of His Word, and returns our feet to the course of good pasture again!
Knowing that we shall not want, lack, or fail encourages us to have great expectations for the lives we live. Trusting in Jesus and following His plan for our lives enables us to declare in unison with David “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.” (Psalm 23:6) When you know the Good Shepherd, your present AND your future are fully secure. Something to think about!