Advent Day 8: Shepherd

The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD
forever. (Psalm 23 NLT)
(Revelation 1:8 NLT)

Psalm 23 is undoubtedly the most famous—and among the most beloved—of all the psalms. It is short, the prose is beautiful, and it is full of comforting imagery of God as a shepherd who takes care of us in the midst of the darkest valleys. This reference to God as a shepherd is not unique to Psalm 23; it can be found throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Since God is so closely associated with the image of a shepherd, and since many of the prominent leaders of the Bible—Abraham, Moses, David, and others—were at one time shepherds, it makes sense that the first people to hear of the birth of Jesus would be a group of shepherds watching over their flocks.

Looking at Psalm 23, what best defines God as a shepherd is His constant presence. He is with us beside peaceful streams, along right paths, and through darkest valleys, and we will live in His house forever. His presence—the truth that God is with us—was made all the more tangible through the birth of Immanuel. The shepherd became a sheep, while still retaining all of His shepherd-ness, so that the other sheep might come to better know the shepherd.

Re-read Psalm 23, looking at the various ways the Shepherd’s presence serves the sheep under His care, then dedicate time to praising Him for the ways His presence has been a blessing in your life.