The Lord is my shepherd…

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These words of David are perhaps one of the most comforting parts of the Bible. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

With its confidence in the presence of God even in the darkest places of life, the 23rd Psalm is one turned to by many in times of difficulty. But do these well loved words have more to say?

I was leading worship on Sunday night, when for some reason I found myself thinking that the good shepherd does more than simply comfort the sheep.

We know that in Jewish culture the sheep were not herded, but responded to and followed the voice of the shepherd. The Psalm recognises that this shepherd leads beside still waters, and leads in paths of righteousness.

I like Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of verse 3; “True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction”

On Sunday night I asked the congregation “Do you want a shepherd?” Most of us want a shepherd who comforts, but do we want a shepherd who guides? If the answer is yes then we must be sensitive to the voice of the shepherd in all its tones. The good shepherd comforts, directs, guides and from time to time rebukes his sheep. Those who hear his voice and respond are able to share in David’s confidence as they say; “The Lord is my shepherd!”

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