Search This Blog

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Psalms 23 (expanded) #2

"The Lord is my shepherd." Is the LORD, the God of Heaven and Earth, your shepherd? The LORD sees everything, He is the King and we are His subjects. We live in the Kingdom, but we Worship the King. The Shepherd, the Good Shepherd, knows His flocks - each one by name, and HE is intimately acquainted with their ways.
"I shall not want" - In Christ there is no lack of substance, He provides and He guides. He places His sheep in green fields where there is abundance of grain.
"He makes me lie down"- God does not force the sheep to lie down. When sheep are well fed, and when they are free from fear, then they simply lie down. When they see the Shepherd in the field, and after they have eaten and are full, then they lie down.
"In green pastures" - God knows, the Good Shepherd knows where the pastures of lush green are located. He may have even ben the one who planted the grass, or the one who sowed the seed for it to come up. The shepherd wants the best for His sheep. Our God is rich! We belong to Him.
"He leads me beside the still (quiet) waters." Sheep are funny little creatures, and they are very fearful. A child could run across the field and they would all scatter. They will not drink from noisy, or rushing waters. The water must be still. A great book to read on this is "A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23" by Phillip W. Keller. Another good book is "Manners and Customs of Bible Lands" by Fred Wight, published in 1957. His chapter on "Care of the Sheep and Goats" is my main source for these little tid bits.
"He restores my soul" - He takes care of the physical body, the needs of the flesh are met. Sheep need food and water to live. The Shepherd provides for the needs of the Sheep.
"He guides me" - The Shepherd leads, the sheep follow. Sheep are dumb animals. If one sheep wanders off a cliff, the rest will follow. Where the Shepherd goes, when He calls to them and they begin to follow, they go with the shepherd. Psalms 32:8 says that "He will guide us along the best pathway for our life." As one of His sheep, I take great comfort in that verse. We do NOT lead, HE does. That must mean that we must follow Him, not vice versa.
"In paths of righteousness" - This is not a common path. His path is the right path. When we follow Him, we are taking a path of righteousness. Note: It is not a "path" of righteousness, but rather "paths" of righteousness. This does not mean that there are "many paths to God," but that there are many paths for the righteous to walk upon. There are different levels of grazing with sheep, and there are various levels of maturity in Christ. As the sheep get older, I'm sure that their diet must change to some degree. Sometimes the sheep have to walk down a path to get to another field, or to another pasture. Seasons change, and we do not always stay put forever. The shepherd allows us the freedom to move around.
"For His name's sake" - The sheep have a brand that signifies the name of their owner. The shepherd does not tend everyone's sheep, only those who belong to him or to His Father. Shepherd's are often young men or boys who are "sent into the field" to watch over the sheep for their Father. Such was the case of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Jesus. The customs in Israel have not changed in over 2000 years. The Shepherds were in the field the night of Jesus' birth. It was the "Angel of the Lord" that appeared to them first.
"Even though I walk through the valley" - We do the walking. When the Shepherd moves, the sheep follow Him. There are always exclusions in the law, for nothing is chiseled in stone (except the ten commandments). When sheep are young, they often run away. If this happens too often, the Shepherd breaks their hind legs. This is painful, but He knows it will heal. He has done this many times, and there are lessons to be learned. This is a time when the sheep get to "know" their Shepherd. The sheep may not realize it at the time, but he (or she) is about to learn the heart or nature of the Shepherd. Once this is known, the sheep will never run away again. The sheep, now that the legs are broken, has to be carried by the Shepherd. The Shepherd knows what to do. A "relationship" is about to begin between Him and the sheep. He carries the sheep around His neck. The sheep may urinate of defecate on Him, but that is what animals do when they are fearful. When He stops, he places the sheep or lamb beside Him, and feeds this little one by hand. He strokes it, he plays the harp or flute for it, He hears and gets to know "His Master's Voice."
"of the shadow of death" - This may often feel like they are going to die. It is NOT death, just a shadow. A shadow does not kill, the real does. A shadow follows something, or hides behind it. This process may feel like death, but it is not the real death. Sometimes the real is not nearly as scary as the imagined, and I believe this is what the writer means. Children often wail like they are being killed, but when they realize, "Hey, that wasn't so bad!," then they go about their business.
"I will fear no evil." Fear hath torment. When the sheep know the shepherd, when they see Him and know He will take care of them, even if they are attacked - they simply "cry out" to Him and they are safe. When there is no fear, they lie down. Perfect love, knowledge of the Holy - the Good Shepherd, casts out all fear.
"For Thou art with me" - His name is Emmanuel, Deus Nobiscum, the God who is with us. He never leaves His sheep unattended or uncared for. The Good Shepherd always makes provision for His sheep. They are secure in Him.
"Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me." Why is this in scripture? Why do we gloss over or pass this by? It is because we do not know the tools of the shepherd. The shepherd carries a bag called a "scrip" and into this bag went dried fruit, raisins, fig cakes, dates, almonds, and once some rocks for a shepherd named "David." The shepherd carried a sling too. The rod eventually became the scepter of the King. It looked like a pointed stick with  ball on one end. This was often used like a club. It was used to beat off foxes, lions, tigers, bears, etc...the enemy of the sheep. Through the ball end were often driven a nail or nails. These nails would sink into the skull of the animal that was attacking and it would "pith" them off. It would crack their skull, leaving the animal dead, dying, or maimed in some way. The only time it would be used on the sheep would be when the shepherd would could count the sheep. The tenth one would be "marked" with ink. Every tenth sheep would be offered as a sacrifice. God determined this and it was random. Sometimes the favorites had to go to God. The staff was the support for the shepherd. It would be used to "tap" the sides of the sheep to get them back on the right track. The crook end as often used to draw the sheep to them Good Shepherd for inspection. They would pass by the shepherd and He would "hook" them. There was no getting away from Him. During this time He might apply a paste or balm to the head of the sheep, or some type of oil or paste around the eyes, ears, and nose of the sheep. This kept away the enemy too. Sometimes, the sheep were drawn by love, just to be hugged, scratch the ears, etc..
"Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." The fields were open to all animals. Jesus said "Whosoever will may come." The enemy is always welcome to come alongside, but never to attack. The sheep ate out in the field right in front of other animals - the lions, in front of the foxes, the wolves, the hyennaes, the jackals, etc... The pastures were prepared for the sheep. The sheep ate in front of their enemies, but the Good Shepherd was watching, ready to defend.
"Thou hast anointed my head with oil." I often wonder if this was Olive Oil. Everything about the Olive represents Jesus. The things of nature often depict the things of God. There was an "oil" that was applied to keep off the "Bot flies" and other evil pests that would irritate the sheep. Bot flies would lay their eggs in the nose, eyes, or ears (usually the nose or ears) of a sheep. Once inside, a barb was attached to the the wall or lining inside and they would begin to feed on the sheep. As the maggot gets bigger, it begins to twirl around inside, and the sheep begins to get irritated. If left alone, the sheep will beat his or her head against a tree or rock until it is dead. This healing balm prevents this from happening. This is a pro-active solution. This is preparation in advance. Praise God for His love which removes the pests ahead of time.
"My cup overflows." - God's abundant provision is always "more than enough." It is pressed down, shaken together, and running over.
"Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life" - because of what the shepherd does, the natural following is peace and rest. The goodness of the Good Shepherd and His mercy makes the sheep to lie down, to be content, to be at rest. It is not because of what the sheep do, but because of the goodness and mercy of the Shepherd. This will happen even to the grey head. He watches over us all the days of our lives! Can you say "Hallelujah?" Thank You Jesus!
"And I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever." This world is not our home, we are just a passin' thru! We are citizens of Heaven. One day we will live in the home of the Good Shepherd the King, like Mephibosheth. Praise God!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment