May 1, 2014

Because the Lord is my Shepherd . . .

“The Lord is my Shepherd . . .” (Psalm 23:1)

Our church is less than two years into a new building and already the children’s ministry is larger than the space created for it. We are praying for God’s guidance in a solution, knowing that God will answer our prayers. He is our Shepherd.

Each Wednesday my husband and I meet with a small group of believers, study the Word of God and pray for our collective requests. In our discussions we share the many ways that God shepherds us. We are His sheep.

This week I am praying daily for wisdom as I write a particularly challenging term paper. Every day God gives me unexpected thoughts from His Word that add weight to my thesis. I am humbled and grateful that He shepherds me.

Today’s devotional reading begins a new two-month study of Psalm 23. It is called, “Still Waters” because the author’s intent is that readers experience confidence and peace while studying the depths of this well-known psalm.

This author begins with a quick look into the heart of David, the human author of the psalm. Long before this man became king of Israel and wrote this and other psalms, he was a shepherd boy, the youngest of several brothers. He was simply doing his job when God sent His prophet Samuel to look for the next king to replace Saul. He guided this man to this family of brothers, and when he set his eyes on the eldest, the Lord interrupted his assumptions and said, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Samuel considered the next eldest and the next, but his Shepherd kept saying of each that they were not His choice. Finally, Samuel asked the father send for his youngest who was not there but busy tending sheep . . .  

And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” (1 Samuel 16:12)

For a God who looks on the heart, it seems odd to first describe David by his outward appearance. However, throughout the story of David, we are given many glimpses of his heart. One of the first describes his courage. A literal giant among their enemy ranks defies Israel’s army and their God. David steps forward while everyone else is cowering in fear and offers to take the challenge . . .

And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:33–36)

This is the heart of this young shepherd. He is fearless, not because he is strong or handsome, but because the honor of God and God’s people are more important to him than protecting himself. He knows that his Shepherd will give him whatever he needs to defeat the foe, no matter what or who that foe might be.

David ignored Saul’s estimation of who will win the battle, and confidently faced Goliath knowing that the Lord is his Shepherd. Because He is my Shepherd also, I can stand against all giants that threaten me!

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