Trust the Shepherd

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures
and leads me beside still waters.
He revives my soul
and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me;
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.
Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23 NRSV)

Psalm 23 begins and ends with two bold statements: “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” and “I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

These statements are like bookends with all of life lived in between, and the psalmist, David, makes them with such confidence. I believe he does so because he has been through so much with God – the good, the bad and the ugly. Because of this, David has come to a place of deep peace and trust with God. Oh, to be able to rest in such a place as this!

The imagery of Psalm 23 paints a picture of a beautiful life with God. David uses the metaphor of a shepherd with his sheep because of his former life as a shepherd before he became king. He knew the love a shepherd has for his flock and the extent the shepherd will go to in order to make sure his sheep are well fed, nourished, protected, and watched over. David knew from experience, how much time a shepherd would take to find the best places to feed and to rest. He would scout out the valleys and look for predators and rescue the sheep that wandered off. The shepherd’s goal is to give his sheep the best possible life.

Even David’s declaration that his shepherd was with him in the worst times and the darkest valleys shows us the depth of his trust in God.

It would seem David’s lens through which he viewed life was grounded in three things:

  1. The Lord is MY shepherd – his identity in Christ alone.
  2. I lack nothing – he knew that in the person of Christ, he had everything he needed.
  3. God was with him in every circumstance. Always.

Taking our cue from David, what if we were to view all life through the same lens as he did? A Kingdom of God lens.

Psalm 23 invites us to discover the beauty of keeping company with Jesus while traveling through life together – from green pastures and still waters, to committing to the right paths, to doing battle against our enemies, to feasting at the table in front of them.

Visualize the joyful wonder of our cup overflowing in abundance. Think about being so in tune with the Spirit that we are constantly aware of God at work all around us. Imagine the depth of trust we would have in our Lord and Saviour, being completely surrendered to him.

The best part is that God’s goodness and mercy and love chases after us all the days of our life.

While the peace of Christ might seem elusive at times right now, the hope of eternity is that no matter what happens we know we will one day experience shalom in its fullness. Everything will be restored to wholeness.

In the meantime, let’s keep our eyes open for glimpses of God’s Kingdom in this life. Let’s embrace the peace that can be found here and now as we pursue God with our whole heart.

No. Wait!

Let’s BECOME people of peace by seeking first God’s Kingdom. Let’s partner WITH God and BRING this peace to everyone we come into contact with.

All of this is best done in everyday life. But make no mistake, as you do this, your ordinary life will become filled with extraordinary power!
Deb Judas is part of the NAB Missional Initiatives Team, director of Formation with Forge Canada, and a member of the pastoral team at The Neighbourhood Church in Surrey, British Columbia.