walk in the word
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. —Psalm 23:1–3
When David said, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” he knew something about the word picture he was using.
The first time we ever meet David, he is introduced as the youngest, all-but-forgotten son—out doing the chore none of his seven older brothers wanted to do. “Then Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep” (1 Samuel 16:11).
When David volunteered to face off with Goliath, he claimed his work as a shepherd, warding off lions and bears from the flock had prepared him for the fight (1 Samuel 17:34–37). Because he knew shepherding and he knew the Lord, David found it easy to put the two together—as if to say, “The way the Lord treats me is just like a shepherd.”
Our inexperience as shepherds begs this question of David, “How is the Lord like a shepherd?”
First—like a shepherd, God leads us. We need to be led, don’t we? A good shepherd leads the sheep out in front of them, not from behind. There isn’t a place where the lambs put their feet that the shepherd hasn’t already walked. There isn’t a valley the sheep go through that the shepherd hasn’t gone through first.
There is nothing coming into your life that isn’t terrain the Shepherd has already covered and given His full approval—including the rocky ground, the most difficult times. If God doesn’t want to allow it, He will turn it away and you will not experience that hard time. But when it comes—indeed, “in the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33)—don’t ever forget the Shepherd leads you through that ground. God will use it for your good and bring you through it to the place He has planned.
Second—like a shepherd, He protects us. Sheep are so vulnerable—to disease, to weather, to predators and thieves that come to steal them. In the same way, the enemy of our souls would terrorize us, harm us, steal our focus, and tempt us to chart our own course—but our Shepherd protects us. It’s just as Jesus says in John 10:9-10: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” You’re reading this today because the Shepherd is leading you, and He is filling your life with good things. God is protecting you.
Third—like a shepherd, He feeds us. For sheep, it’s green pastures and still waters. For us, our Shepherd offers nourishment of every kind. Devotionals like this and even Sunday sermons are just a sampling of the feeding that comes from the Lord. As the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16). These portions are intended to fire us up and help us take hold of the abundant food God has provided in His Word to feed ourselves day by day, moment by moment.
Take a moment to realize how desperately you need all the Shepherd’s care for you. Keep seeking Him—in prayer, reading and reflecting on His promises, adoring Him in worship—as He leads, protects, and feeds you. Because the Lord is your faithful Shepherd.
Reflect on an example for each of the Shepherd’s tasks in your life: leading, protecting, and feeding.
How have you responded to His faithfulness?
Father, I praise You for the many ways You are my Shepherd. Thank You that in Your leading, protecting, and feeding, You have never failed. Your faithfulness has never faltered. There hasn’t been, nor will there ever be, a circumstance or danger You can’t handle. I rest my life in Your care. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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