The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, 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 your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23
Before he became king, David, the author of Psalm 23, spent his days as a young sphered boy caring for his flock. Drawing from his time out in the field, he wrote today's passage to give us a glimpse into God's heart.
David's current circumstances were less than ideal; in fact, they were downright challenging. Facing difficulty and uncertainty, he was walking through a dark valley. It would've been easy for him to look at his circumstances and lose heart.
Even though things around him were falling apart, David's faith was being built up.
Adversity presented an opportunity to keep his eyes focused on God - not just on His presence, but His faithfulness as well. David knew that God was with Him during his trials because He had shown up for Him time and time again. Past faithfulness fueled future faith.
In the Gospels, Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd (John 10:14-18). We are cared for and protected by a God who knows us intimately.
But, have you ever stopped to consider: If He’s our shepherd than what does that make us? Sheep.
That's not quite a badge of honor. Sheep are notoriously stubborn, stupid, and helpless. Without the protection of a caring shepherd, they startle when faced with uncertainty and danger. Trusting didn't come naturally to David, and neither does it to us. It requires practice.
For as clueless as sheep are, there is one thing they do very well: they know their shepherd’s voice. We need to tune our ears and LISTEN to His voice humbly. We must KNOW His voice because there are others who are vying for our attention and affection. Discernment only comes when we immerse ourselves in His Word and surround ourselves with others who are also pursuing God’s heart.
Recognizing His voice and His leading enables us to take our next step of faith confidently.
Where do you find yourself in a dark valley?
How can you respond differently to this situation knowing God is by your side?
Lord, thank you for being a loving shepherd who guides and protects me. I'm helpless and vulnerable without You. Help me to hear and trust Your voice so I can follow Your lead. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.