The opening verse of Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my shepherd.” “A shepherd is one who pays attention to, guides and guards His sheep. He not only feeds his flock, he strengthens the diseased, heals the sick, binds those that are broken, searches for the lost, and brings back those driven away by circumstance. He tends his flock with gentleness and compassion.” This eloquently describes how Jesus cares for us.
In the past, I’ve often rattled off Psalm 23 without giving much thought to the meaning or impact of the words in this passage of scripture. “The Lord is my shepherd,” indicates the personal nature of a relationship with Jesus Christ. As my shepherd, He’s responsible for providing all my needs. While I know this to be true because the Bible says so, circumstances can cause me to feel otherwise.
There have been times when situations unfolded in my life that caused me to doubt Jesus’ ability to shepherd me. He promised I wouldn’t lack anything, yet following Him I’ve experienced periods of famine in my life. My Bible tells me I’m in good company; so did Abraham, Jacob, David and other biblical characters (Genesis 12:10; 41:57-42:1;
II Samuel 21:1). I’ve come to understand that God allows me to experience a famine to build a weakness in me. I’m currently experiencing a season where all I can do is trust that my Shepherd will see me through. I have the audacity to believe that because God has done it before and He’ll do it again!
Perhaps you’re burdened with something that causes you to question Jesus’ shepherding ability. You may ask yourself, Why would my shepherd who owns the cattle and the hill allow me to struggle so long in my finances? Why would a loving shepherd stand by and watch my marriage disintegrate? How could a capable shepherd allow my daughter to get pregnant? Why would He allow me to lose my job or suffer with prolonged sickness? I’m glad you asked.
Jesus uses these situations not to destroy you, but to guide you to sources of greater provision. They’re meant to draw you closer to Him, not drive you away. Jesus keeps a watchful eye over you all the while. The reason He doesn’t get upset or lose His cool over the situation is that unlike you, He sees you beyond the present. He leads to provision when He knows you need it. Hence, some of our greatest testimonies were the result of God’s provision during times of scarcity, insecurity, and when the odds were stacked against us. Just when you thought God forgot all about you, He showed up famously.
Psalm 23:1-3 indicates Jesus’ provision is designed to make an imprint on you so you’ll recognize His voice and follow His lead. He knows what you need, and when you need it. You’re not a nameless face in a sea of people. He knows you by name, your innermost thoughts, and the very number of hairs on your head. You have His promise that He will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). God often permits circumstances to unfold until you get to the point where you can do nothing but stand still and allow His divine provision to rain on your life. He works to get all the glory out of your situation. Psalm 23 provides comfort and assurance that the Good Shepherd is more than capable of meeting your needs.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Surely the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for you won’t fail you now (John 10:10-15). He’s working things out on your behalf. God is intentional in everything He does. While it may not feel like it, He’s leading you not just to provision, but abundant provision. However, the path the Lord guides you through can cause to question if He’s guiding you to abundant provision or fatal famine.
Stay tuned for our next installment when we discuss God’s pathway to abundant provision.
Be abundantly blessed!
Reverend Cynthia Jackson