The Tabernacle Scroll
“The Lord is my shepherd” [Ps. 23:1]
I have observed that Psalm 23 is generally more popular at Christian funerals than at Christian celebrations. However, even amongst unbelievers there is a peculiar desire for its inclusion in their funerary rites. Perhaps it is because they have come to place reliance on its comforting words on the false assumption that a really loving God would not send anyone to hell. Nothing could be further from the truth! How this psalm could possibly bring comfort to the living in respect of the deceased, whose speech has been a denial of Christ, and who gave not the slightest evidence of regeneration, is beyond me!
Every truly born-again person knows that God’s wrath against sin was fully borne by Christ himself on behalf of all those who would believe in Jesus as ‘the lamb who takes away the sin of the world’. Thus, to qualify as ‘believers’ we are exhorted to only believe, meaning that faith is our only requirement to be saved. But we are also to believe only in him; that is, our faith is tied to him as a person, not to a philosophy or religious form or structure or organization.
The essence of this psalm lies in its description of how God leads those who belong to him to that place where they shall no longer want. Now, that is not only comforting, but also encouraging and joyful. David, being a shepherd himself, uses the imagery of the shepherd and the sheep (metaphors) to describe the Lord’s leading. He uses a real life scenario to depict the watchfulness, personal tending, provision for physical needs and security the shepherd provides his sheep.
It is the real-life relationship between the shepherd and the sheep that provides the basis for David’s psalm of faith in God. The ancient shepherd knew each of his sheep. He knew them by name, and was familiar with their peculiar characteristics, marks, tendencies, and idiosyncrasies. And so it is with God (Jesus is the ‘Good Shepherd’). But note too that the sheep recognized their own shepherd! Sheep under the care of different shepherds were often penned together overnight. In the morning, the shepherds would call out their sheep, and even though they were intermingled, the sheep would never follow the wrong shepherd!
The shepherd’s daily leading was directed to finding green pastures and quiet waters for his sheep. What do these metaphors tell us? That He leads us to himself because He is our true pasture (Jer.50:7) and our pool of quiet water (the ‘prince of peace’).There is a hunger and a thirst in every human heart that only He can satisfy.
It’s one thing to affirm the Lord as shepherd. It’s quite another thing to say ‘The Lord is my shepherd’. Only those who have a true relationship can say that.
www.kerysso.org-Preach The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues