But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. (Psalm 79:13 ESV)
The God who created me and who loves me is the One who never leaves. His kindness draws my heart to Him. He sees all that affects me because nothing is hidden from Him, but at the same time He hides me away. He fights my wars and provides a fortress of safety. He forgives me, saves me, redeems me, and rescues me. How could I do anything but praise the God who rules the universe from His throne, who judges the hearts of all people, but who also stoops to comfort my soul?
THIS is the God we thank. WHO He is and WHAT He does expands to fill every atom of the universe. He is uncontainable and indescribable. As we close in on the end of 31 days of thanking God, we have one more analogy of our amazing God to examine and praise.
My Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. As a child that was one of the first verses I learned. The same reasons this passage comforts children apply to us. Because the Lord is our Shepherd He provides our needs, He leads us to safe places even when we are in dangerous situations, and He stays with us to protect us until He leads me into eternity.
- 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. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:1-6 ESV)
If the Lord is my Shepherd, I am a sheep. We are His flock. We are owned, guided, protected. We BELONG to Him.
- Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3 ESV)
The Lord knows how much His flock needs Him to shepherd us, and, in His compassion and love, that is what He does.
- When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 ESV)
The tenderness of our heavenly Shepherd gathers us into His arms and carries us next to His heart. He keeps us near always.
- He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11 ESV)
As a shepherd leads his flock, so our Shepherd guides His people. He helps us and He never leaves us. But, the fact He uses this analogy about Himself deepens my understanding and love for the Lord. A Shepherds was lowly in society- he did his dirty and menial job out in the hills and was easily ignored. Except by the sheep, that is. His flock adored him.
The King of the Universe uses the picture of the Shepherd with His sheep to explain the depth of His love and care for His people. He would rather we understand His love than protect His own reputation. He could have just been King, but He chooses to be Shepherd King.
- Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. (Psalm 80:1 ESV)
- I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. ... I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, (John 10:11, 14 ESV) 11
What would have happened if I did not have a Shepherd who saw my need, a need I brought on by my own bad choices? Not only did He see my condition, Jesus took my sins upon Himself and laid His life down for me. For you. I can only respond with unending praise and a heart that will follow Him anywhere.
- He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25 ESV)
Just so we can clearly understand, Jesus used the Shepherd analogy in a parable. Do you feel lost and alone? Have you wandered away from your Shepherd? Are you confused and have no idea where to turn? Rejoice! Your Shepherd is on the hunt for you.
- "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:4-7 ESV)
I am grateful down to my toes that I am not alone. I am protected and loved by the Shepherd of my soul. I can’t wait to praise Him!
- Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand... (Psalm 95:6-7a ESV)
My loving Shepherd, I praise You! Your care guards my soul and guides my feet. Your eternal presence calms my quaking heart when I am in danger from the predator who wants to devour me.
Thank You Lord for letting me be a part of Your flock. I am grateful to belong to You and to Your church. I want to faithfully serve and follow You. But my good intentions and my actual follow-through don’t always match up. Thank You for seeing my harassed and helpless situation and loving me enough to lead me back to you.
Thank You Lord for describing Yourself as a lowly Shepherd. You would rather I understand Your love, than protect Your own dignity. That astounds me. Your love must be more than I can even comprehend and it draws my heart to You.
Jesus, I praise You for being my Shepherd and proclaiming it to all who heard. Your sacrificial love for me, Your knowing me, Your laying Your life down for me- after all this, what I desire is to follow You and to know You more. Yet what I often do is wander off. I turn my head, loose sight of You, and go my own way. Thank You, my Shepherd, for not leaving me lost. I get myself in a pickle and You find and save me. Your love astounds me, especially since I do not deserve it.
I worship You, my Maker and my Shepherd. I am Yours, and boy am I grateful. As You lead me with Your rod and staff, I will follow Your direction and praise You each step of the way.
We who have the great privilege by being shepherded by such a Lord, have a lot to praise. We are never alone and never without guidance. I pray you experience the deep rest that such truth can produce. We are loved by our Shepherd! What more could we need?
- And he blessed Joseph and said, "The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, (Genesis 48:15 ESV)