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"The Lord is my shepherd." We are always under His care for He says, "Lo, I am with you always."
The Middle East is a land of raising sheep. It is a task by itself. Our best sheep and the best
lamb's wool comes from Middle Eastern countries. Perhaps the climate or good care give it the
greatest sheen. The way the shepherd in the Middle East looks after his sheep is vastly different
than in our country. There the shepherd leads the sheep. Here the farmer drives them, usually a dog
beside him. The sheep is not the most intelligent of animals; it should be led. In the Middle East
the sheep is something precious, loved, well cared for. Throughout the Bible much is written about
sheep and sheepfolds. Abel was a keeper of sheep. David was as well. Rebeccah looked after her
father's sheep and brought them to the well.
In Isaiah 40:11, we read, "He shall feed His flock like a shepherd. He shall gather the lambs in
His arms and carry them in His bosom and gently lead those that are with young." Here we see the
tender, loving shepherd, protecting the wounded lamb, the young one, the weak one, the tired one,
taking them up in his arms and carrying them over the rough, stony places and carefully guiding the
ones with young which also need special care. What a beautiful picture of our dear Lord, our
I SHALL NOT WANT
In Deuteronomy 33:27, we read, "Underneath are the Everlasting Arms." They are strong and
sustaining. They will never let us down. We cannot trust in ourselves because the arm of flesh will
fail us, but not the arms of our Shepherd, Saviour, and Redeemer.
In John 10, Christ says, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his
sheep." Christ did that for us on Calvary. "My sheep know my voice." No, we won't be in
want for any good thing that He sees we need. Phil. 4 says, "My God shall supply all your
need." Food, raiment, dwelling. In Matthew 6:25-34, we read the cure for anxiety. Trust in the Father's care.
HE MAKETH ME TO LIE DOWN
...in green pastures. Here is shade, plenty of tender grass, waters to quench the thirst and when
the sheep is sufficed, he will lie down. Years ago I heard a missionary, a native of Israel, say
that a sheep would not lie down if it were hungry. Her mother often got up in the night to see if
the sheep were lying down. If not, she fed them. Sometimes there comes a time in our lives when we
need to be called aside, to give ourselves to meditation on our Saviour, and to be drawn into a
closer fellowship with Him. Sometimes in the activities of home or business or even in the Lord's
work we are too busy to listen and hear what our Lord would say to us. He wants to teach and guide
us, and oh what a blessing comes into our lives.
HE LEADETH ME
...beside the still water. In Hebrews the words are "Waters of Quietness" or "Restful Waters". In
Isaiah 32:18 we read, "My people shall dwell in sure dwellings and in quiet resting places."
Though there may be wars and unrest, pain and grief all around us, there can be inward peace. Isaiah 26:3 says, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."
HE RESTORETH MY SOUL
Often a sheep wanders away. Around the fold is a hedge. Along there the grass is more tender, not trodden down. The sheep wanders off for this tempting grass but there is the danger of wild animals or robbers. The shepherd, watching, calls the sheep. The sheep looks back but still goes on. The
shepherd calls again but the sheep heeds not. Finally the shepherd takes his sling and a pebble and gently hits the sheep, and he returns.
So our loving Shepherd, as we wander away after that which seems more attractive, calls us back. We heed not and then He calls us to return through some circumstance or affliction which He permits to happen for our own good and to give us a deeper love and a closer walk with Him. Sometimes the sheep wander out of sight but the Shepherd knows. He seeks for the missing ones, calling them by name and they come to him. We love that old hymn, "The Ninety and Nine". Ezekiel 34:1 says, "I will both search my sheep and seek for them."
There are poor shepherds, careless ones, looking after themselves and neglecting their flock which then become diseased, maimed or a prey to wild animals. We read this in Ezekiel 34:2-6. How much the pastor of his flock, in his church, needs to stand by the Word, seek the Holy Spirit's counsel so that he will not lead his sheep astray.
There are many paths, some appearing safe, but in the wrong direction. There are pitfalls. Other paths look extremely attractive but there are poisonous vines there. Our Shepherd will always direct us aright.
The Middle Eastern shepherd will go over the sheepfold and look for danger, for instance, a hole where a serpent may be hiding. The shepherd takes his staff and sticks it into the hole and the serpent will stick its head out. The shepherd then puts his heel on it and kills it. There is a piece of metal on the heel of the shoe for that purpose. In this we get the type of Good Shepherd prophesied in Genesis 3:15.
A wise, loving parent disciplines his child. Our Good Shepherd chastens us, for whom the Lord loves, He chasteneth. (Hebrews 12:6) It is for our own good. "...and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." -John 15:2. In Isaiah 48:10, we read, "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." Job 23:10, "He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Romans 8:28,29 says, "All things work together for good to them that love God,...to be conformed to the image of His Son..." When we have experienced these testings we would not have been without them at the expense of the loss of the great blessing that came. We know there are still greater depths to be reached. "Let us trust and not be afraid." -Isaiah 12:2.
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW
"yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil..." - Psalm 23:4. What words of comfort and assurance these are for God's children. Christ has taken away the sting of death. In Psalm 116:15, it says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. " Yes, you are if you are saved by the blood of Christ. It is because we are so full of failings that we need the tender care of our loving shepherd.
"Mercies new and never failing
Brightly shine through all the past,
Watchful care and loving kindness
Always near from first to last.
Tender love, divine protection,
Ever with us day and night,
Blessings more than we can number
Strew the path with golden light."
THY ROD AND THY STAFF
...they comfort me. Dear child of God: when you are laid aside and are unhappy about it, trust all to Him, your shepherd. Do not rebel. God has work for you and you will find peace and contentment. "...thy rod, it comforts me" Moses took the rod of God in his hand and used it according to God's will. The rod can be something to teach us, to mold us so God can make us an instrument to carry out His will.
There was a time in my life, after my dear husband went to be with the Lord, that I felt I must have some person in each day. Then I realized that this was not God's will for me. He wished me to have friends but He did not want me to rely on them. Through the years my body has weakened. I have come to know that I need the green pastures, the restful waters, the quiet resting places, and the abundant table He has provided through His Word and the Holy Spirit shedding His light upon it.
THE ABUNDANT TABLE
"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." One thing a table makes us think of is food. Yes, our shepherd will provide for our earthly needs. He fed the multitudes and had much left over. He feeds the sparrows and are we not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25-34)
There is also the spiritual food. What is that table mentioned above? The Word of God. As we feed upon it, we shall grow and mature. The Word of God is the best weapon against the enemy. Christ used it in each temptation by Satan, and Satan left Him. Ephesians 6 says, "...the sword of the
Spirit, which is the Word of God." This table is also full of precious promises; rich, deep
truths so necessary to the Christians's growth. "...thou anointest my head with oil; my cup
runneth over." In the scriptures, oil is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. He will fill us. Psalm
133 tells us of the precious ointment upon the head of Aaron, which ran down upon his beard, even
down to the skirts of his garments.
The Word of God in Jeremiah 23:29 is spoken of as a hammer that breaketh the stone in pieces. So we
must be chiseled, hammered and smoothed down like gems. We can find comfort in knowing we are a gem.
In Malachi 3:17, God says we are jewels.
How many times have we been rebuked, counselled by His Word? Have we always heeded? In Jeremiah
23:28, we read, "He that hath my word let him speak my word faithfully." That is a command to
every one of God's children today. We cannot keep silent. We can deny Christ through silence.
THE CUP OF SALVATION
Psalm 116:12,13 says, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will
take the cup of salvation."
Dear unsaved one: take this shepherd as your own. He gave His life for you. He was bruised and
wounded for your sins. He climbed the hill of Calvary. He fell down under the cross He bore for you.
He shed His blood for you. He paid your debt. Will you not take the cup of salvation now?
We shall prove that He "...is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or
think..." -Ephesians 3:20.
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house
of the Lord forever." -Psalm 23:6.
His love has no limits,
His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
Apt. 429, 9 Haldon Ave.
Toronto 13, Ontario, CANADA
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