Pastor's Corner -- October 22, 2021
Psalm 23 describes the relationship between us and our great God as being that of a flock of sheep, and a Shepherd. That's not the only place in scripture that establishes this concept - it's frequently referenced.
The sheep know the Shepherd's voice. They hear it and they harken to it. (John 10:27) The Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine in pursuit of the one, (Matthew 18:10-14) He gives his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
As a Shepherd, God cares for us immensely, and it's perhaps described no more evocatively as it is described in Psalm 23.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Yea, 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 runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
In the hands of God, we are cared for. We are led to green pastures, and still waters.
Sheep in the near east grazed on grass that was produced by rains. During the warmer months, they fed on weeds and stubble, but when the rains came - they were able to graze on green grasses. Unlike goats, sheep do not necessarily forage on their own, instead - requiring the care of the shepherd to lead them to good feeding grounds and places to water. The shepherd also provided shelter, medication, and assistance in the birthing process. The Cultural Background Study bible states, "Sheep were virtually helpless without the shepherd." Which is so true of us and our God.
It is He who provides us with green pastures, and leads us beside still waters. It is He who restores us, leading us in the paths of righteousness if we'll allow Him to lead.
Despite walking through the darkest of valleys, the land of the darkness and shadow of death (Job 10:21), the prospect of the end of our lives - God as our shepherd protects us, preserves us, keeps us from evil, such that we should have no fear, knowing how He cares for us.
His rod and staff, they comfort us. Shepherds in the near east wore a rod on their belt that was like a club, or a cudgel, and of course carried a staff which was used to help them navigate the hillsides, guide the flock, and help the sheep move where he intended. Sometimes that staff was used as a goad, to 'encourage' the sheep to follow his lead, and it could also double as a weapon in a time of need to protect the sheep from predators that desired to do them harm. Our God provides His flock this protection as we face a hostile world, and spiritual forces of darkness.
God is described as preparing a table in the presence of our enemies. Setting out food was a gesture of hospitality, and to do so in front of ones enemies publically establishes the relationship that exists between the host and the guest. Between our God, and us. Customarily, when someone was invited into someone's home, oil was provided to anoint their head, in order to refresh them. (Matthew 26:6-13) In near-eastern culture, if one entered into anothers home and the guest and host partook of salt together - there was a promise of protection in that act.
Our cup runs over with blessings from our God. In His loving care, goodness and mercy will follow all the days of our life, and in a description of the promise of the spiritual adoption we all have opportunity to partake in - we will dwell in the house of the Lord... forever.
God is good.
He is our Shepherd, and for that I am incredibly thankful.
Have a wonderful Sabbath!