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The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalms 23 is known the world over as one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It is quoted during some of the darkest hours of peoples lives and it brings comfort. This song unveils the fact that much of God’s dealings in the Old Testament was through shepherds. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were all shepherds. Verse four of the 23rd Psalm is of great interest to me. It reads, “Yea, 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.” I would hear this Psalm a lot during funerals or at times when a loved had gone home to be with the Lord. I assumed by this that this verse was only speaking of dying, but through study I found that was not the case. The valley of the shadow of death is a ravine or an area where the sheep are more vulnerable to attack from predators. It gives us a picture of the sheep walking with the shepherd, knowing that they are unable to defeat the enemy but that the enemy is no match for their shepherd. Sheep are not a force to be reckoned with. In fact, there is no need to ever be afraid of sheep. They are absolutely helpless without a shepherd. Jesus looked at a group of people and saw them as sheep with no Shepherd. It literally meant that they were being ripped and torn apart because they had no one to care for them. We know that David, when he faced Goliath, was speaking of the fact that he had killed a bear and a lion to protect one lamb. It is amazing to me that a shepherd would risk his life knowing that someday he was going to be King, to save one lamb. In fact, in David’s time, it was considered a disgrace to leave with 100 sheep and come back with 99. Jesus said he would leave the 99 to go find the one lost lamb.
If David would fight a bear and a lion to save a lamb how much more will our heavenly shepherd fight for us. I have more confidence in the ability of my shepherd to keep me than I do in the power of the bear and the lion to take me. What a beautiful confidence and hope we have in our heavenly Shepherd. The Bible says, “We are the sheep of his pasture”. Even though the sheep are walking through a very dangerous place they are not afraid at all but are filled with comfort. How can this be? What is the basis of their fearlessness and comfort? It is all in the confidence they have in their Shepherd. The Bible says, that His rod and His staff bring them comfort. The rod was used as a weapon of protection for the sheep. The rod was never used on the sheep but would quickly be used on any predator that approached. We, as believers, can remember that the Bible says, “No weapon formed against us shall prosper.” The staff on the other hand was for the sheep. If a lamb were to get off course and get tangled up in some briars, the shepherd would use the staff to gently pull them out of danger. What a beautiful picture for the born-again believer who has strayed from the way and is finding his Shepherd leaving the 99 to rescue him. Did not Jesus promise, that He would never leave us or forsake us, and that He would go with us all the way, even unto the end. When someone is born again they become a lamb and a part of Jesus’ sheepfold. You can have absolute confidence in the knowledge, that the Shepherd who saved you, will also protect you. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.