The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3 (NKJV)
David starts this by talking about the leadership and provision of a shepherd. It was a shepherd’s job to provide for the needs of the sheep. Unlike goats, sheep were completely dependent on their shepherd to know where the pastures and water were. It was the shepherd’s job to know where these places were and then to safely lead his sheep to them. The sheep merely had to follow their shepherd in order to experience his provision. Once the shepherd led his sheep to the green pastures and still waters, they were to eat, drink and have their strength renewed so that they could keep on going. This passage teaches us some important truths about the way our shepherd leads us.
He leads me to times of rest
Just as a shepherd lead his sheep to places where they could be strengthened and refreshed, the Good Shepherd will lead us to times where we can be strengthened and refreshed. As I studied the idea of green meadows and peaceful streams, there were a couple of things that came to my mind. One is that our Shepherd’s provision isn’t second-class. The idea is that the shepherd goes all out for his sheep and leads them to the very best places. The picture here may be that of an oasis type place. It is a picture perfect paradise in the midst of a barren desert. The other thought is that this is a place of rest. This talks about more than just Jesus’ provision for our lives. Also of Jesus providing us a time to rest and recover.
Jesus knows that there will be times in our lives when we are worn down and needing a time of rest so that we can recover. In these verses we see that our Shepherd will be sure to provide these times for us. God told Moses that His presence would go with Him and He would give Moses rest. The promise of rest isn’t a promise that there won’t be rough times that we have to face. The promise of rest is a promise that there will be more to our lives than just rough times. He provides these times so that we can sorta recharge our spiritual batteries and be ready to go again.
As sweet as these times of rest are, they aren’t permanent. They may be stopping points on a difficult journey. They may be places of safety during long battles. They may be times of rest between seasons of spiritual growth. Whichever they are, they have the same purpose. They are to be temporary places of rest so that our strength can be renewed and we can get back into the fray. As much as we might want these times to be permanent, they aren’t and as long as you are following Jesus, they never will be. An important question is, if I am living in a constant state of rest, am I really following Jesus?
He leads me in righteousness
The leading of our Shepherd continues and we see that He will lead us in paths of righteousness. We can be certain that our Shepherd always leads us paths that are righteous. If our Shepherd always leads us in paths of righteousness then there are two things we can be sure of as we follow Him.
Jesus will never lead me into sin. At no point in time in our lives will Jesus ever lead us into sin. If Jesus were to lead us into sin, that would be a violation of His Holy character. In addition, since sin destroys lives and leads to death, we can be sure that our Shepherd will not lead us this way. For Jesus to lead us into sin would be like a human shepherd knowingly leading his sheep into a wolf’s den. Leadership like that leads to nothing but pain, and certain death. We can be certain that our loving, Good Shepherd will never do this.
Jesus will never lead me to contradict His Word. God’s Word remains our absolute standard of right and wrong. We can be certain that Jesus would never lead us to contradict something He inspired someone to write down. In Matthew 7, we are told that God’s Word is a solid foundation we can build our lives on and by doing so we will be able to withstand the storms of life. Honestly, it wouldn’t be much of a solid foundation if Jesus were just going to lead us to contradict it in our lives. Jesus will never lead me into sin and He will never lead me to contradict His Word.
For further study read John 10:1-18.
How does this passage say that the Good Shepherd leads His sheep?
What does it mean to hear His voice?
What is the difference between the Shepherd and the hireling? What does this teach us about our Good Shepherd?
What does the Good Shepherd do for His sheep?