When I looked at the Old Testament Psalm 23, I realized that those ancient words of David would be very reassuring and valuable to us in our present circumstances.
Psalm 23:1 – The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. (NIV 2011)
The sole purpose of a shepherd is to look after all of the sheep under his care. In ancient times, the shepherd made sure that the flock had plenty of grass to graze, water to drink, and a sheltered place to be protected. The sheep, usually quite timid creatures, needed to feel secure in order to get through each day. The shepherd's presence gave them that peace, and so they followed him gladly, because they knew that he was looking after them. So, the very first thing that we learn from the psalm is this: God is our Shepherd who will take care of us and give us what we need — reassurance, hope, and love.
Psalm 23:2-3 – 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. (NIV 2011)
The shepherd's presence in the field with the flock allowed the sheep to lie down. Usually herds of animals remain standing so that they can run immediately if they are threatened by predators. But here, we have a picture of sheep feeling so secure that they can lie down in the lush grass to peacefully rest and relax. There is no stress here. There is only tranquility and peace. And there's also confidence that when the sheep need to graze elsewhere, the shepherd will guide them safely to the right place.
This is a beautiful image of God and His people. One of the main purposes of worship is to get us to stop all of our busyness and free us from stress in order to decompress and receive God's peace. In the midst of this crisis, we wonder what tomorrow will bring, and we often worry about the future. But what God is saying to us right now is, "Be still and know that I am God. I have plans for your future and well-being. I will help you and guide you through this." So, we take a few devotional moments each day to worship God in our homes, to feel His presence in our lives, and to give us a time of faith, hope, and love.
Psalm 23:4 – 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. (NIV 2011)
In the midst of all that is frightening us, we need to know that God is ready to protect us, and if need be, is prepared to redirect us if we wander away from His presence. When we get scared or anxious, or when our daily routine is broken, we can fall into despair and worry ourselves. As our Good Shepherd, Christ does God's work of looking after us so that we are empowered and enabled to get through these times that try our souls. He says to us,
Matthew 11:28 – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (NIV 2011)
If God be for us, then who or what can be against us?
Prayer: O God, dear Shepherd, today and every day, allow us the peace of Your holy presence. Reduce our fears and increase our faith. Keep us and our loved ones free from all that threatens to harm us in body, mind, heart, and soul. In Christ's great name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "God Will Take Care Of You" (Lyrics)