The Lord is my Shepherd

When, blessings like a river, swarm.

the-lord-is-my-shepherd-lg

“The Lord is my shepherd.”  And thus begins Psalm 23.

King David is the author of Psalm 23; however, as much as we Christians would like to believe, David was not the first to pen the idea of God as shepherd.

History tells us, this metaphor, of comparing god to shepherd, was common place within the Eastern world.  For example:

  • There was a song written about Marduk, patron deity of the city of Babylon, during the early 18th Century BC, describing his care for the weak like a “benevolent shepherd.”  
  • Another song written of Shamash, Mesopotamian sun-god, proclaims, “You shepherd all living creatures, together, you are the herdsman, above and below.”
  • Hammurabi (c.1750 BC) claimed kingship by providing “the people with pastures and watering places, having settled them in peaceful abodes.”
  • A phrase, which closely parallels Psalm 23, was found inscribed upon ancient Samaritan text and it reads,  “A man’s personal god is a shepherd who finds pasturage for him.  Let him lead him like sheep to the grass they can eat.”

Some Christians, learning of this, may feel it weakens David’s writing, but I feel quite the opposite.  I’m sure David, a learned man, was aware of such comparisons; therefore, when he chose to liken his God to that of a shepherd, he, in essence, was elevating his God, Yahweh, above all other gods.

David spent many of his younger years, tending his father’s sheep.  The book of II Samuel, speaks of two incidents where David had to kill a lion and a bear in order to protect the fold.  David understood the lambs were vulnerable, and without his protection, they would most likely die.  Knowing this fact, when he wrote Psalm 23, he visions himself to a lamb, that is dependent upon the shepherd, and for David, this shepherd could only be Yahweh.  David humbled himself, and placed his entire well-being, within the hands of God.

I love how David makes Psalm 23 personal.  He could have written, “The Lord is a shepherd” and that would have been true, but instead he writes “The Lord is ‘my’ Shepherd.”  By that simple two letter word, David sheds light upon his close relationship to God.

I believe when we read Psalm 23, God desires of us, to make it personal.  He wants each of us to slip our identity within this passage, and when we do, this ancient scripture becomes alive.  We like, David, can proclaim a personal relationship with God, and when we are able to do that, God Himself walks with us.

Oh, what peace and joy this brings!

My Daily Prayer:

Lord, you are my Shepherd.  You care about everything in my life, even unto the minutest detail.  Help me today to ponder this thought.

When I’m tired, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will feel rest.  When I’m afraid, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your protection.  When I am lonely, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your presence.  When I am guilty, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your forgiveness.  When I’m down upon myself, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know I’m enough.  When I feel unloved, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your love.  And in that time, when I face death, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and I will know comfort and peace.

Lord, thank you for this day, you have made for me.  Help me to live it, with my hand in yours.  Help me, to be a blessing, to those you bring to my path.

In the name of Jesus, my savior, I make these requests.  Amen

***

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  — Jesus

When blessings, like a river, swarm

.

(Information about comparisons of gods to shepherd was taken from the NIV Study Bible)

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Waiting on God

IMG_3789

Walking Through the Book of Psalms

Psalms 4

David was a writer and in that I find kinship. The more I read his writings the more I like the guy.  His work is poetically beautiful, but it is also brutally honest. David wasn’t afraid to question God.  He wasn’t afraid to complain to God.  He admitted to sin, depression, guilt, shame and his lack of patience.  I’m beginning to wonder if I were David in a previous life!  David, like me, was also goofy!  In II Samuel 6:16 we read about David bringing the ark of the covenant back to  its rightful home, Jerusalem.  David is ecstatic  and so as the ark enters the city he breaks out in a dance.  His wife, Michal, looked out the window of her home and saw her husband “cutting a rug.”  Did she go out to dance with her husband?  No.  What did she do?  Check it out:    “… Michal, Saul’s daughter [David’s wife], looked down from the window above and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she felt contempt for him in her heart [because she thought him undignified]. So, either David couldn’t dance or his wife walked around with a stick up her butt.  Perhaps it was little of both.  Which ever, suffice to say David could be goofy and I think that’s pretty cool!

In today’s scripture we don’t find the goofy David. Rather, he’s in the wilderness, perhaps in a cave, hiding from a son who wants him dead. Not a pretty picture.  How often have we been there, seemingly alone, desperate and facing horrible family problems?  I can relate.

Of  the scholars I’ve read, all agree that Psalms 4 is a continuation of Psalms 3.  The third Psalm is often called, “The Morning Psalm” and the fourth called, “The Evening Hymn.” And so, it seems logical, that David wrote Psalms 3 in the morning and wrote Psalms 4 the same day, but in the evening.  I would imagine that to have been a long day for David.  In the early morning he had cried, “Arise, O Lord; save me, Oh my God” and yet as evening approached David still faced a future, uncertain.  As far as David could tell, God had done absolutely nothing to help him from his troubles.  When I’m in that “waiting-kind-of-situation” I too become impatient and with David I want to cry from the top of my lungs, “Get up God…do something!”  This we can do, but ultimately, just like David, all we can do is watch and pray.  One of my favorite verses that I’ve quoted many times over is Isaiah 40:31 which says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

It’s so hard to wait on God.  I like what Joyce Meyer writes on the subject,  “Trusting God often requires not knowing how God is going to accomplish what needs to be done and not knowing when He will do it. We often say God is never late, but generally He isn’t early either. Why? Because He uses times of waiting to stretch our faith in Him and to bring about change and growth in our lives… But the truth is, waiting is a given—we are going to wait. The question is, are we going to wait the wrong or right way?”

So how did David wait?  As evening approached, David laid himself down upon a make-shift bed to pray and as a result we have Psalms chapter 4.  In his prayer he first acknowledges the power of God by saying, “Hear me, when I call, O God of my righteousness.”  Here David is giving God the glory for everything good in his life.  He’s actually saying, and I paraphrase, “God, every good thing I have accomplished in my life is all because of you.  My righteousness is not mine but yours.”    Paul from the New Testament felt the same way when he wrote, “For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus  for good works, which God prepared beforehand , so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)   Anything and everything we do that is good is a testament unto God and not ourselves because we are His “workmanship.”  God considers each of us His work of art.  You and I are one of a kind, there are no replicas. David understood this, and so as he lay upon his bed, he reiterated it to himself and to God by saying “..Oh God of my righteousness…”

David didn’t know what his tomorrow would hold, but this one thing  he did know;  God was his God.  As Christians we can know the same.  Our Father, God, loved us so much that he gave us Jesus; and once we truly know who we are in Christ, we can know His peace in times of waiting.

It’s not about us, dear friend; it’s all about Jesus.  When Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished” He really meant..“It is finished!”  Everything has been taken care of and there’s nothing else to do.  Jesus has already won the final battle and the proof of this is in is his resurrection from the dead.  We are complete, secure and greatly loved by Jesus.  Jesus wants us to know …our life is hidden with Him in God.  (Colossians 3:3)  I don’t think we can get any more secure than that.  David hid in the wilderness but thank God, we can hide in Christ.

David, while in the wilderness, was secure in God’s love.  He knew his strength would come from Him.  By faith, we can know the same.

What else did David do in his waiting?  That’s a story for the next blog.

My Prayer: Oh Lord, sometimes waiting can be so hard…so frustrating…especially when you’re quiet and it seems as if you’re doing nothing.  In these times, please remind me of your love…remind me that I am your child.  Give me your strength.  Give me your peace. May I rest in the Christ who gave his life for me.  In His name, Jesus, I pray, Amen.

“Thus with my thoughts composed to peace,
I will give mine eyes to sleep; Thy hand in safety keeps my days, And will my slumbers keep.”

Psalms 4

god_keeps_no_one-76899

 This is also my participation in Scripture Sabbath Challenge and Devotional Friday Event.