Sometimes we get so used to a specific scripture, that we read through it quickly and don`t really get into the practical application of it to our lives. Psalm 23 is a really good example of this. Many of us grew up hearing it so often, and it actually became a rhyme that we just repeated.
But what does the Lord actually mean by saying that He is our shepherd? A shepherd is someone who protects, guides and watches over his flock of sheep. They look to him for protection from their enemies, as well as the provision of food, water and shelter. The shepherd also helps them when they’re sick or injured.
Practically the Lord also wants to be the source of help for all our needs. When going through challenges, such as being in desperate need of a job or a positive outcome to a situation, people often put their hope in other people. When we start listening to what people are saying, we hear their panic. Their focus is on the situation they are in, in a government system of unequal rights, or in the specific person they are going to for a job interview.
If we look at Psalm 23:1 we’re reminded that the Lord is our Shepherd. We need to lift our focus unto Him, and recognise that He’s above all the earthly systems, and people in places of power and influence. God is our source of hope and will open doors for us where He chooses to. Yes, we still need to go for that interview, better our education or improve our skills, but ultimately the Lord is in control and will guide us to the place He knows is best for us. If we put our trust in Him, He fills us with hope, and gives us the strength to do our part in this, and walk the road we need to.
Sometimes we find ourselves in a conflict situation, or a place of huge uncertainty regarding our future. For most people this is very daunting. If we take a moment to firstly confide in Jesus, our Shepherd, and pour out our fears and emotions before Him, hope starts to grow again. So often we get into a panic and start making our own plans. Only then do we look to the Lord and ask for help. When things then don`t work out, we often blame the Lord, but we never put Him at the beginning of our decisions in the first place.
God is our Shepherd. He longs to guide us, protect and watch over us. But we need to allow Him to do so. We can`t do things the other way around and then expect the Lord to make everything work out the way we thought it would.
We’re living in a self-help, self-sufficient world, and this isn’t a world that recognises God`s covering over us. The best part is that the Lord will never turn away from us, even if we have followed our own ideas and plans. He’s still waiting for us to turn back to Him. Even if we’ve made a mess of things, He will guide and lead us towards a solution and healing.
‘We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His Holy Name’ (Psalm 33:20-21).
Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, that no matter what I’m facing, You’re my hope and place of safety. Even though I’m fearful, I choose to focus on You for guidance and provision. I know that You’ll never abandon me, and that You promise to be with me every step of the way. Thank You that You promise me hope and a future. Amen.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake."
Psalm 23:1-3, NIV
Annalene Holtzhausen is on the Associate Team at Ellel, Africa. She is married to Renier, who introduced her to Ellel Ministries. She is a full-time mother to their two boys. Her passion is for the restoration of women’s hearts and for people to find their worth in the Lord.
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