Lead On, Good Shepard

Lead On, Good Shepard

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
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 your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. ~

I love this Psalm. It has been a prayer of comforting peace in restless nights. It has been a prayer of joy as I praise the God who promises to lead me. God has used this Psalm as encouragement that my eternal home is with Him in Heaven so that I may endure the dark valleys and look ahead to being united with Him.

And yet it so often seems that in my dark valleys I find myself wondering if God is there. I tend to question His love. Many have asked themselves that same question after – or during – a natural disaster or life altering circumstance. “If God is a God of love why would He allow this to happen?”

Maybe you’re a believer in Jesus Christ and you are in a place absent of the rest and peace your soul desperately desires. If you’ve strayed from your Shepherd then repent and return! If you are striving to be faithful and the road is difficult you can take comfort. God as our good Shepherd promises to lead us. He leads us by quiet waters, along right paths to bring glory to His name. And in the very next verse after these comforting truths says He leads us and protects us through the darkest valleys. It has always been easy for me to read this Psalm and be encouraged by its truths without realizing that the same Shepherd who leads us by quiet waters and to rest in green pastures is the same Shepherd who leads us through trials and hardships. There is no danger or threat that can meet us that hasn’t first met the Good Shepherd who leads us.

James echoes this truth in his letter to Christians that have been scattered due to persecution.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~ 

These trials aren’t sins we succumb to but hardships that result from living in a broken world. They come in all sorts of forms but in Christ they come to the same end. Perseverance, maturity, a faith that is not lacking because the good Shepherd leading us through whatever dark valley we walk through provides for us and will not leave us without anything we need to bring glory to His name. We may go without some things for a while: sleep, physical nourishment, comfort, etc. But our Heavenly Father knows what our needs are and will provide what is truly needed to keep our eyes and hearts on Him.

Maybe at the moment the dark valley you’re in seems to be just that…dark. It seems to have no hope of ever ending. Rest assured, the very same God who is leading you also promises that if you are His child – a sheep in His flock – that your cup will overflow. Even if right now your soul feels dry. Your hope is found in His Word. It is found in His precious promises that light up the darkness. What lies ahead might be shadows but what follows your steps are His goodness and love. He has been faithful and will be faithful to lead you home where your dwelling is in His house forever!

23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads 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 mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. (ESV)

23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads 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 mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. (ESV)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (ESV)