"The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need." (Psalm 23:1)
This statement has stuck in my brain since I heard it: “You may never know Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.” In the past, that may have gone right over my head. Intellectually, I knew that was true, but it had never transferred from my head to my heart. Many times I have sung words from songs that speak to this exact topic, but did I really mean them or let them sink in? Lyrics like “You are the air I breathe…I’m lost without you, I’m desperate for you,” and “I am nothing without you,” are just two examples that come to mind. Unfortunately, it seems these statements don’t mean much to us until we come to a place of complete brokenness. Most of the time, we have to be stripped of all self-protection, self-sufficiency, and pride so we can truly see our sinfulness and total dependence on Him. In a recent study of Psalm 23, I have come to the realization that I am just a sheep in need of the Shepherd.
As an introduction to a teaching on the 23rd Psalm, our pastor gave a detailed description of sheep. I am sure many of you have heard this and can see the parallel to the human condition. The short version is sheep are dumb, defenseless, dependent, stubborn, and dirty, to name a few things. He added that sheep have to have things to feel comfortable and that they are very unstable without the presence of their shepherd. As I sat in church listening that day, I could feel my wool begin to itch. I could see how I have unknowingly acted like a sheep for most of my life. I actually thought that I had it together, that I could handle whatever came my way, so I didn’t really have to surrender my whole life over to Him. Since then, the Lord has shown me that I was gravely mistaken and I have to live every day of my life realizing and embracing the fact that I am a sheep, and I cannot survive without my Good Shepherd.
When I meditate on Psalm 23, it is not the depressing scripture many associate with funerals. It is a poignant and beautiful picture of our total helplessness and depravity in the midst of God’s grace, love, mercy and care for us. Because He is our Shepherd, we do not have to want for anything. This doesn’t mean we will have everything we need materially or physically or that life will be easy and pain-free; quite the opposite. But with the Lord as our Shepherd, in the times of trial, suffering, temptation, and pain, we have all we need. He is always there, and is ready to carry us back to the flock, to the green pastures and still waters of His arms. We can have peace and contentment in the midst of our trials. So if the premise is true that He is our shepherd, and we do not need anything but Him, that means I have to stop trying to be my own shepherd, and that I will have no desire for any other shepherd but Him.
The balance of Psalm 23 describes how we live in Christ, and the many ways He cares for and attends to us. He gives us rest and peace; He gives us strength; He gives us wisdom so we can glorify Him in our everyday life; when trials hit, we do not have to be afraid, because we know He is there to protect, comfort, and lead us; when we feel defeated, He blesses us by showing that He is our hope and He cherishes us; when we are saved, He will never leave us or forsake us, and we are His forever; no one can snatch us from His hand, and we will enjoy Him in Heaven for eternity.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for being my Shepherd. Thank you for loving me when I am so unlovable, for pulling me out of the pit, cleaning me up, and healing my wounds. I love you Lord.
Suggested Reading: Psalm 23 & John 10