This Week's Focus Passage

The Lord is my Shepherd

Focus Passage: Psalm 23:1

‘The Lord is my Shepherd.’

Is the Lord your Shepherd? From the recitation of the 23rd Psalm at virtually every funeral service, we would be warranted to understand that Jehovah is the Shepherd of all people, or at least that all people believe that He is their Shepherd. Is this borne out in reality? Is it borne out in the Word of God? Is it borne out in John 10? Or, to put it in another manner, do you hear the Shepherd’s voice? Christ has declared unequivocally that His sheep do hear His voice, and what’s more, they follow Him. Are you following Him? Are we following Him? Are His professing people; the people of His pasture; His church truly following Him? The question is not, are you following a certain man who claims to be the representative of Christ on earth? Neither is the question propounded; have you subscribed to a particular creed or confession? Great numbers of folk are pleased to subscribe to the blessings of this Psalm. They are delighted to affirm that they shall not want any good thing; pleased to lie down in green pastures; willing to be led beside still waters, and well satisfied to accept that their souls are restored. We are, every one of us most happy to be granted all the wonderful blessings found in this portion of the Word of God. We trust that we need not fear death, or any evil. We happily derive comfort from the anticipation of the presence of God with the power of His rod and staff. Our heads have been anointed, speaking perhaps of every blessing having been bestowed to the point that our cups are running over. We are trusting that these merciful good things will continue through our lives, and even into eternity in the house of God forever.

It remains a question that we should put before ourselves; however, Are we being guided in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake? Even as Jesus’ sheep are those that are hearing His voice, equally are they among the flock that is being guided in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. It is part of man’s fallen nature to grasp the benefits of a particular privilege without embracing the responsibilities of that very privilege. To anticipate being granted the blessedness of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever without any corresponding concern for following the Lamb whithersoever He leadeth is in the realm of that lopsided, selfish behavior. There is much more ‘Name it and claim it’ on our parts and in our hearts while there should be more of our telling our Lord to ‘Name it and claim it’ from us whatsoever He would have us to do to please Him.

Is it to be only ‘all about us’ or is it to be ‘all about Him’? This was the immediate problem for the young man of Mark 10:17ff. that asked Jesus, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ He desired the blessing of eternal life, but as the sequel demonstrates, he was unwilling to give up the ‘blessings’ of the present life. He went away sorrowful rather than yielding to the claims of the Savior: much like those that embrace all of the blessings of the 23rd Psalm but have no desire to respond to its claim to be guided in the paths of righteousness for Jesus’ sake. David, the writer of this 23rd Psalm had much to say in his other psalms about this matter of ‘paths.’ He pleaded in the 119th psalm, ‘Make me to go in the path of thy commandments,’ verse 35. He truly wished to do so, and so he prayed according to his heart’s desire. He stated elsewhere in that psalm, ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path,’ verse 105. In this, he clearly equated the Word of God with the commandments of God. This is the path that he would that he could walk in the fear of God. It is the Word of the Spirit that is a lamp unto his feet and a light for his path. It is that selfsame Word that has anointed his head with oil. The Word of the Spirit; the Word of the living God is that abundance with which his cup runneth over, and through which he may anticipate that the goodness and lovingkindness of Jehovah would follow him all the days of his life.

The rest that is promised in the 23rd psalm is that rest of which a later prophet spoke, and he also informed us of the way and manner of obtaining that perfect rest in God. Speaking for God, as all prophets do, he said, ‘Thus saith Jehovah, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.’ Jeremiah 6:16. Would we have good; then let us ask for the old paths where is the good way. Let us stand in the way of that path; let us ask for it; let us know that the good old way is the Word of God.

David was evidently convinced of the verity of Jeremiah’s utterance long before ever it was uttered. He was certain that God wished to enable him to walk on that ‘old path’ when he declared unto God, ‘Thou wilt show me the path of life.’—Psalm 16:11. It would seem that David passed these and their importance unto his son, for we read in the writings--those in Proverbs assumed to be from the pen of that son of David—that Solomon agreed with David’s estimate of the blessedness and usefulness of the Word of God for our necessary direction. After having said in the second chapter of that wisdom literature, and verse six, ‘For Jehovah giveth wisdom; Out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding, he adds in a later verse of that wisdom, ‘Then shalt thou understand righteousness and justice, And equity, yea, every good path,’ that is, when we hear the voice of the Shepherd, and we are thus being guided in His paths of righteousness for His own sake. David and his son, Solomon, join their hearts and thoughts together as when Solomon said, ‘But the path of the righteous is as the dawning light, That shineth more and more unto the perfect day,’ while David adds his imprimatur, saying in our focus Psalm, ‘Surely goodness and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah for ever.’ Amen.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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