‘The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.’ – Psalm 23:1
God’s people are referred to as sheep in the word of God. Of course we are not literal or physical sheep, the term is only used metaphorically, so as to aid in describing how God sees the souls of men. As a matter of fact, the soul of man is gullible to the deception and lies of the enemy. It could be easily seduced, swayed, and distracted by the devil – who had studied and observed mankind from behind closed curtains for thousands of years.
The devil was the one brought about our first parents’ fall in Eden’s garden, and so he knows the moral weaknesses of man, he knows that man likes to rely on his own frail strength. He knows our self-centeredness, our tendency to get jealous, and our vain desires that make us over-ambitious.
However, our God knows us deeper than the devil can ever hope to discover about us, and deeper than we know ourselves. He knows how He created man’s soul in the beginning and understands the condition to which it has degraded because of sin and corruption. He knows that our souls are like sheep going astray and must have a shepherd in order to be safe from the devourer. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.’ – Psalm 100:3.
The work of a shepherd
‘He makes me to lie down in green pastures’. – Psalm 23:2
In the natural world, a shepherd is the provider and savior of his sheep and looks out for their safety and welfare. He takes them to areas of good forage and sources of clean water. He also sees to it they do not eat a poisonous plant and also protects them from predators by the use of guard dogs or other guard animals. In the old times, shepherds often carry with them horns and flutes which are used to scare off beasts and also calm the nerves of the sheep, respectively. A lot of shepherds also arm themselves with rifles to shoot at predators when they suddenly come out from their hideouts to attack the flock.
The Lord is a better shepherd than anyone out there and has His eyes on His flock 24/7. He does not get tired, neither does he get bored or drowsy. The psalmist puts it this way: ‘Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.’ – Psalm 121:4. He perfectly understands our human condition, and He’s willing and able to help us as we yield our lives to Him. He takes His people to a place of peace and not turmoil; He takes us to a place where we can find true satisfaction and healing for our souls.
How the Lord shepherds
‘He leads me beside the still waters. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.’ – Psalm 23:2,3.
Every shepherd has instruments with which he herds his sheep (See Zechariah 11:15), but as for the Lord, He usually leads His sheep by His voice. Although He has what the scriptures refer to as His rod and His staff – which refer to His discipline when we are disobedient (See Psalm 23:4), He naturally prefers to use His voice. He wants us to hear Him and obey Him, because if we did we would never need to experience His discipline.
However, He does not hesitate to use discipline when it seems best to Him – He would not open His eyes and watch the enemy snatch away His precious sheep from Him. Remember; you are precious to Him because He bought you with a very costly price (See 1 Corinthians 6:20, 1 Peter 1:18,19).
He also uses church leaders to shepherd his flock, especially in a congregation. This is important to our lives – we all need someone to be accountable to. Besides, at certain points of our lives when the enemy is lurking hideously around the corner, we all need someone trusted to watch our backs for us!
Why do I need a shepherd?
‘He restores my soul.’ – Psalm 23:3.
We all need a shepherd because we are more susceptible to the enemy’s tricks and baits than we will admit. Often, Satan likes to make us think we are strong in ourselves or wise enough to navigate this life and handle all the challenges it throws our way. There are unforeseen circumstances that people without warning—it all comes on suddenly out of nowhere and takes us by surprise.
This happens because we do not know the future, but our Shepherd knows the future with its blessings and hidden dangers, and is always looking to warn us or prepare us ahead of them! David, the man who wrote Psalm 23, was not writing about what he learned in a college or a theological seminary. Rather, he was writing from his bank of experience with the Shepherd. In so many instances, David was delivered from unforeseen circumstances by his obedience to the LORD his Shepherd.
Take, for instance the time the enemy tried to destroy him because he had just been made king over Israel. The devil knew that David was a righteous man who was always pursuing after God passionately and his dark kingdom would suffer as long as David was king. He instigates the Philistines to go after David, but the LORD delivered him. Twice they tried to kill him, but David was wise enough to enter the stronghold – from where he sought God in prayer and looked to his Shepherd for salvation (See 2 Samuel 5:17-25). He was victorious over the enemy’s plan to get rid of him because he was in tune with his Shepherd.
Every time we sense danger or we get into actual trouble, may we be wise as David and learn to turn to the stronghold! Our stronghold is our place of prayer and fasting as we wait on the Lord for the answers or solutions we desperately need.
Identifying the voice of the Shepherd
‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them.’ – John 10:27
The voice of Jesus our Shepherd is our lifeline in this world of uncertainty. He warns us, instructs us, guides us, counsels us, and teaches us – all through His voice. If you’re reading this and you’ve never heard the voice of the Shepherd, in the next few lines I will share with you three (3) tips that will help you in hearing Him.
- He speaks primarily to our hearts (See Hebrews 3:7,15).
- Regular meditation on the Word of God softens the heart and makes it easy to hear when He’s speaking (See Joshua 1:8).
- Spending quality time in prayer talking to God and worshipping Him opens our ears to His voice (See Acts 13:2).
‘He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD has opened my ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away.’ – Isaiah 50:4,5.
The Lord really desires that all His children would hear His voice and pay attention to what He has to say, and really, it’s not difficult to hear Him speak… All that we really need to do is to learn to listen! This is especially important, as there are many voices out there in the world. There is the voice of the devil, and there is the voice of unclean spirits as well as the voice of social media and that of men. All these voices are often loud and seek to drown out the voice of the Shepherd in our hearts.
The only instrument by which we filter the voices we hear is the Word of God. The more we meditate on, and understand the Word of God, the easier it gets for us to recognize the voice of the Master when He speaks. ‘Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me.’ – Psalm 119:97-98.
Follow the Shepherd
‘…And they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.’ – John 10:27,28.
The purpose of hearing the voice of the Lord is to follow His leading and obey His counsel. The more you do this, the more of His peace you will have in your home and life. He wants you to fulfill the potentials He has put inside of you, He wants you to have victory over the enemy every time he tries to attack any area of your life, He wants you to live life to the fullest – but all these possibilities will only be made a reality as you allow the Lord to be your Shepherd. He will take the ugly pieces of your life and make something beautiful out of them. He will guide you through the valleys and steeps of life and bring you to the mountain top of your destiny!