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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Psalm 23: Reflections for Today

John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”(NIV)

     Since the Good Shepherd has that “omniscient” thing going for Him, it is not hard to imagine that He knows His sheep, since he knows all that there is to know. But, the verse said that the sheep know Him, too! My question is what is it that the sheep know about the Shepherd?
     One of the most well-known “sheep” in the Bible is David—shepherd boy, musician, composer, friend of the King’s son, fugitive and, at last, king himself! I figured I would find my answer recorded in David’s psalm 23.
     In the Bible I used when I worked on memorizing the Twenty-Third Psalm to earn a pretty bookmark with the same passage of Scripture at age 8, verse 1 said, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” In today’s world that may be misunderstood as the sheep may think it gives them a free pass to all their wants! Present-day translations give us a more accurate picture of just what the sheep say about their Shepherd’s provision:

New Living Translation (NLT):   “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”
Or, The New International Version (NIV): “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”

     The sheep, David, states that the Shepherd provides all that he needs; he isn’t missing anything. He does not say that he has everything that he wants or has seen on television or U-Tube. He has what he needs.
     Recently my colleague helped move an African family with eight children and four adults living in one house. It, quite literally, took only three trips with the Toyota and one push-cart for the larger items to move them! One afternoon’s work, if you can imagine!
     Likewise, two months ago my sisters helped my elderly mother move from her two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium to a small one-bedroom, and one-bathroom apartment in a retirement center. Of course not all of the things in her condo would be moving as there just wasn’t the space. My older sister commented to me after the move, “We really don’t need all that much to live.” She is right! We don’t need it to live; we just want it! Okay, but the sheep are saying here that the Good Shepherd sees that they lack nothing that they need.

Verse 2: “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.”(NLT)

     If the sheep lie down in green pastures, they know that when they are hungry, there is good food right there for them. Sheep are skittish creatures and not all that fond of water, in general. The Good Shepherd leads them by the peaceful waters so they don’t need to worry; if they are thirsty, the water is safe.

Verse 3 “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”(NIV)

     The NLT says “He renews my strength”: but refreshing my soul is sooo much more than just strength! “Soul” refers to our emotions and our mind. Who doesn’t need a bit of refreshing of their emotions and mind every now and then, eh? David, the sheep, says that the Good Shepherd does that! That is precisely why the Shepherd urges us to spend time with Him daily. If we can meet with Him first thing in the morning, we can be refreshed and strengthened before that first wave of “life” hits us!
     In addition the Good Shepherd guides the sheep and their response to His guidance brings honor to His name. You know, like when you made your parents proud of you because you returned that extra bit of change the clerk at the store gave you by mistake? Your parents had taught you that to have something that does not belong to you is wrong; they were guiding you along the right path. Returning the money that really wasn’t yours, brought honor to their name.
     When we were getting things together to bring over to Africa, K-Mart had a folding table and four folding chairs on sale. While there we picked up a number of other items, too. As is often the case on really good “Sale Days”, there was a ton of people in the check-out lines. Finally we were out the door and on the way to my parents’ home. Once there, however, we noticed that the harried checker had forgotten to charge us the $59.95 for the table and chairs. It was too late to go back to K-Mart right then but we returned with the receipt the next morning. At the Customer Service counter the lady waiting on us just could not believe that we had come back to pay for the table and chairs. In fact, she was so astounded that she called to the other lady working at the counter to tell her about us. Can I tell you, truthfully, that I was embarrassed when she did this? I hated the spotlight she was putting on us. She said she had never seen anything like that in all her time working in retail sales and asked us why we came back since no one would have known the difference.
     “It was the right thing to do since we took the table and chairs; we should pay for them.” She was shaking her head as she took our money so I was thinking she probably considered us to be the dumbest bricks in the load but, oh well, God knew since He was watching! Then as we were turning to leave she smiled and said, “Thank you. Thank you very much for coming back,” and I knew she meant it. I also knew that in this incident we had brought honor to Father God by following His guidance along the right path!

****Psalm 23: Reflections Concluded … Coming Tomorrow

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