“The Lord is my shepherd…”
“The Lord is my shepherd.” We have no indication from the scriptures when, in David’s life, he wrote this beautiful Psalm. Whether it was at a time as a young shepherd boy out alone tending the sheep of his father, whether in a cave running from King Saul or as the King of Israel, we only know that the power of this statement was true in all of the circumstances in which David found himself. One of the most powerful words in this simple statement is the word “is.” This word conveys the truth to us of YHWH, the Eternal One, in the most wondrous terms…PRESENT TENSE. Though truth is eternal, it does not afford us much in terms of value and meaning unless it is present tense, in the here and now. “The Lord IS my shepherd.” This is the glory of faith, for faith ever seeks to impart to us the present truth of God’s being and the comfort and power of all that He is in our present circumstances.
Religion has a way of acknowledging God in the past. Martha met Jesus after Lazarus had died; “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” In other words, the present circumstances would have been different if God had responded sooner; the present situation could have been prevented. Many of God’s people have become bitter and despondent with this outlook. They are not able to reconcile the place in which they find themselves with the tender loving care of the Lord our Shepherd. Faith is to bring the truth that His tender loving care IS with us in the moments of great distress and sorrow. “The Lord IS my Shepherd!” Martha’s expression of disappointment was the outcome of a faith that had not yet developed into the “now” of life.
Religion also has a way of meeting the present situation with a futuristic outlook. Unable to grasp the reality of the now, Martha then responds to Jesus’s statement of “Thy brother shall rise again” with a quick reference to a future event; “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Both of these responses contain traces of faith but fall short of THE FAITH.
Faith is the element of our relationship with our great Shepherd that is a living thing. Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed reveals a living thing that grows and develops over time. The past and the present responses of Martha take into account the power and the truth of who Christ is, yet His desire for us is to see Him as the great I AM. The now faith is what makes men and women of God strong and unshakeable in the world in which we live.
“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble”
It is in our journey with Him that the power of this truth begins to enter into the core of our hearts; our Shepherd is a present help. The situation we NOW face we face with the knowledge that HE IS, right at this moment, our Shepherd, our refuge, our strength and a PRESENT HELP in trouble.
We read in Psalm 3 of a time when David was on the run from his own son and the people of Israel did not come to David’s aid…
“Lord, how they have increased who trouble me,
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are they who say of me,
“There is no help for him in God.” Selah”
He was on the run with a small band of faithful ones and the voices of the multitudes around him in his day were saying, “There is no help for him in God.” Have we not heard such voices within our own hearts as we look at the circumstances before us? Have our hearts not sunk at the enormity and the hopelessness of the thing that we were facing? Let us be encouraged in our God, for David responded to that dark hour with…
“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of
people Who have set themselves
against me all around”
These declarations of faith in the midst of dark and trying times can only come from those who, in following their great Shepherd, have grown into the place of knowing that…
“The Lord IS my Shepherd”
Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
*Note: This is an addition to the original Psalm 23 writings
which are being made into a small booklet.