David made some strong statements about God in Psalm 23. As Christians, most of us have heard and repeated them many times.
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I SHALL NOT WANT.
2 He makes me to lie down in GREEN PASTURES;
He leads me beside the STILL WATERS.
3 He RESTORES MY SOUL; He LEADS ME IN THE PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
For His name’s sake.
Psalm 23: 1-3David presumably made these statements to proclaim to himself, and others, God's role as the Shepherd of His people. Jesus called Himself "The Good Shepherd."
Like David, we proclaim these statements of faith to remind ourselves that God is watching over us, providing our needs and will keep us in line as we trust and obey Him!
But are they true? Or, are merely repeating them even though we know they are not true?
David proclaimed, "I SHALL NOT WANT," but is there truly never any want in our lives? David said, "The Lord MAKES ME LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES and BESIDE THE STILL WATERS." Is the place we are in right now a place of such great provision and peace?
What about those of us who may be facing great trials at this very moment? Are we really naive enough to think that all true Christians never suffer and are consistently experiencing the blessings of Psalm 23 that David wrote about?
Or are we Christians simply being dishonest and denying the facts as many accuse us of doing?
To answer that question, we must see with our eyes open!
Sheep are known to be dumb by nature! Sheep naturally go off the path! Sheep cannot lead themselves!
The shepherd knows his sheep and knows where he is leading them. He is leading them to blessings. He is leading them to a place where their needs will be met - to the green pastures and still waters.
PLASTIC GRASS AND MIRAGES!
The problem is, that along the way, the sheep looks around and doesn't see what he or she is longing for. The green grass and pure still waters may not be in sight yet. Perhaps they are around a bend or hidden by mountains. The sheep may see only dry grassless desert land and no sign to food or water anywhere in sight!
He may begin to have doubts about whether the shepherd can be trusted providing for his needs. Perhaps he should take matters into his own hands!
He takes his eyes off the shepherd and begins to look around. There in the distance he imagines he sees water but what he actually sees is what we commonly call a "mirage." It looks very much like water ahead but as one approaches, he realizes that it is merely a figment of his imagination!
ARTIFICIAL GRASS can never feed sheep and IMAGINARY WATER can never quench the thirst of sheep!
"But it looked so real!" the sheep says to himself. As he realizes the water is merely a mirage, he comes to himself and finds he is far from the flock! The other sheep, who kept following the shepherd, patiently waiting for his provision and trusting his ability to lead, have drawn closer to the place where their needs will be met. Perhaps by now they have even arrived! Yes!
This is the place the shepherd promised to lead them - the place where there is REAL GRASS to feed on and REAL WATER to drink - THE PLACE WHERE THEY DO NOT WANT!
Perhaps you have taken your eyes off of The Good Shepherd recently!
Looking around at your surroundings, you don't feel contentment or see your needs being met! You see nothing but wilderness and dry desert. Scanning in the distance as far as your visual abilities allow, there is still no sign of hope on the horizon! You feel you MUST get off of the path you are on.
You feel an urge to run. You must have missed it somehow. You must be honest enough to admit that God is not your shepherd. He is not providing. You DO want! You ARE hungry and thirsty! Others who don't even follow the Shepherd have their needs met! You saw them smiling and happy while doing the things the Shepherd commanded you not to do!
THE VISION PROBLEM!
The problem is our vision! You and I can't always see the contentment, green pastures and still waters where The Great Shepherd claims He is leading us!
BUT HE CAN!
Our spiritual vision is limited just as our natural vision is limited! I can see around me using my eyes alone. To see anything miles away, I need a telescope. To clearly see other planets, I must use a much more powerful telescope.
A microscope reveals the tiny unseen world which was once unknown to us. Before the discovery of this unseen, but very real world, medicine was baffled about the causes of disease and employed methods which have long been discarded. An X-ray, CT scan or MRI "sees" that which is obscured by our outer skin! These tests merely reveal things which existed beforehand but were not able to be seen using mere natural vision!
Perhaps the place where your needs will be met is beyond the scope of your vision!
And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
This place may be too far ahead to see with your natural vision. Perhaps your provision is all around you but is too small to see, much like the microscopic world. Perhaps it is around the bend and obscured and can't be seen without "X-ray vision!"
GOD'S PERFECT VISION!
The Good Shepherd has perfect eyesight!
Superman has X-ray vision. Geordi La Forge has a high tech visor which can collect data, allowing him to "see" much more than others can see with their natural human vision! (Non-Trekkies - you will have to google it!)
But… THE GOOD SHEPHERD CAN SEE EVERYTHING!
The Good Shepherd can see things too far away for us to see! He can see things taking place right around us that are too small to see! He can see around and through objects!
He can collect, analyze and understand all data in time, space and human relationships! He can hear the prayers and know the hearts and minds of the more than six billion people who live in our current world!
Who should I trust to lead me - a dumb sheep such as myself with limited vision, data, knowledge and wisdom - or the Creator and Mater of the Universe who sees, knows and understands everything?
"Hmmm - let me think about that." It's a "no-brainer if there ever was one, isn't it?
A doctor uses tests to analyze what he cannot see with his eyes. He trusts those tests to diagnose and treat a medical condition, even at the risk of the life of his patient, rather than insisting to depend only on what he can see with his naked eye!
How much more should we trust The Great Shepherd to lead us in the right direction, to the right place, even if we don't see or understand what He is doing!
Follow The Good Shepherd!
He knows us. He knows our needs and WILL lead us to beautiful places of contentment and provision!
We should't presume that David is claiming that this state of contentment is a permanent residence. God sometimes provides "manna" for us. Our contentment may last for a moment, a day, a month or years at a time.
But ultimately Psalm 23 is absolutely true because God will lead you to many places of contentment and rest in your lifetime and ultimately HE IS LEADING US TO THAT PERFECT PLACE OF IN HIS PRESENCE. There we shall truly be able to say for all eternity - I SHALL NOT WANT!
Don't give up! Keep following! Good things are coming!
Resist the urge to run off to follow a mirage which is certain to disappoint!
Trust in HIS PERFECT VISION and not your own!
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.
GOOD-HEARTED DISCUSSIONS ARE WELCOME AND HIGHLY ENCOURAGED!!!
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