Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even 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.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Our Lord is like the good shepherd who defends his flock from the ravenous wolves lurking in the shadows. Given any opportunity they’ll strike, but He fends them off with sling and arrow. Have you ever heard of a sheep attacking an enemy or even defending itself from attack?  Neither have I.  I don’t think they can. Their enemies are just too powerful for them. And did you know that sheep are prone to wandering? That’s why they need shepherds, and believe me it’s a full time job. But in spite of the shepherd’s best efforts the sheep do wander off from time to time, get themselves in trouble and have to be rescued.

We’d think it ludicrous for the sheep to blame the shepherd, but that’s the way we, who are sheep, treat the Lord our Shepherd. We wander off, get into trouble and have to be rescued. “Why did You let me do this Lord?” we complain, blaming Him. Unlike sheep who have no freedom of choice and no ability to learn from their mistakes, we are supposed to get smarter through our experience. We’re supposed to know how powerful our enemy is and how helpless we are, and depend on our Lord for protection. That includes listening to Him when he alerts us of impending danger, or warns us not to wander.

But with the patience of a shepherd, He rounds us up, dusts us off, binds up our wounds, and gently sets us down among the flock again, knowing that soon we’ll forget the folly of wandering and off we’ll go,  and He’ll have to do it all over again. His mercies are new every morning, His patience never ending, His love never failing. Good thing, huh?

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