|Jesus our Great Leader (Ps 23) – Audio Clip|
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We have no ability within ourselves to love Jesus with our all, unless we encounter Him as One with a heart of a Bridegroom who loves us passionately and gives us His all (1John 4:19). More than saving us from hell’s fire, the Gospel is about God saving us to become His Bride. He is looking for a Bride who will love and trust Him. When we begin to realize how deeply Jesus loves us, we will have the power within us to love Him (Matt 22:37). Similarly, to have confidence in Jesus and to grow in our trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6), we must have assurance of His love and His ability as a leader. He is a good leader who is both able and willing. He has the wisdom to come up with the best plans for us and He has the power to bring them to pass. More than that, He wants the best plans for us to be realized. Our assurance is in His ability to lead. 2 Cor. 2:14 speaks of the triumphant procession that we will experience as we walk with God. More than experiencing victory in Christ, this verse assures us that God will always lead. There are two key words here: one is that He will lead, another is that He will always be there to lead. This will help us overcome the fear of stepping out or even fear of failure as we put our confidence in His ability to lead and guide us. Do not put our ability to follow Jesus, but put our confidence in His ability to lead us.
Psalm 23 – Jesus as our Shepherd and Great Leader
This Psalm powerfully portrays Jesus as our Shepherd. Jesus assures us that we do not have to worry and can trust in Him. He is our good Shepherd who has gone through the journey before us, and He is able to lead, protect and provide for us.
The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. (verse 1)
David uses the metaphor “Shepherd” as it is a profession the Israelites could relate to, and additionally speaks of one who is in close proximity to and intimate with His sheep. Sheep are known to be “dumb” animals that simply follow the rest of the flock. David rightly refers to us as sheep as many times we simply follow others or the ways of the world without much thought. Yet, our confidence is that Jesus is our Good Shepherd who He will lead us, protect us and provide for us, no matter how “dumb” we are. God created each of us and knows how we are wired (Psa. 139). He knows how to lead us and He will take care of us in this life as we seek to follow Him (Matt. 6:33). Jesus also assures us that we will have no lack. If, and when, we have a need, He provides for us. This is the Kingdom principle of finance and prosperity. Many confuse “having no lack” with God promising to prosper us financially. In the Bible, when the word “prosper” is mentioned, it primarily referred to the prospering of our inner man (soul / heart) and not to material things.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. (verse 2)
We can rest in His provision for us. Just as a shepherd knows that his sheep need to eat from “green pastures” and will lead them there, God knows our need for sustenance and will provide for us. God does not promise that we will not have turbulent times and uncertainty, but He assures us that He will lead us through them triumphantly. We can be at peace and not afraid when the shakings of life come because He will be with us and He will walk through them with us. He will lead us beside the still waters.
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. (verse 3)
Jesus is committed to heal and bring restoration – emotional, physical and spiritual – to all of our past. He does this “for His name’s sake”. He will help us to arrive where He has destined for us to be, and He will help us grow in righteousness. He is our Shepherd who is able to lead and guide us into righteousness. He is committed to make us better.
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. (verse 4)
We will fear no evil because He is with us. There are moments in our lives where everything seems to fall apart; yet our confidence is that He is with us and will never leave us (Heb 13:5). We will not fear death or the threat of death, because He is with us. He uses His rod like a King to fend off our enemies and His staff as a Shepherd to lead us. Having this assurance will bring us comfort.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. (verse 5)
In the midst of our enemies, God invites us to sit down and commune with Him. The cup refers to the cup of our “marriage covenant” with our Bridegroom God. Every time we take Holy Communion and we lift up the cup, it is in remembrance of this covenantal relationship. We remember that He is coming back for us (1 Cor.11:26). In the midst of our enemies, Jesus wants us to remember His commitment to us and say to Him, “Come back for me”.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (verse 6)
If Jesus is our Leader, then goodness and mercy will follow us. Mark 16:20 further says that miracles and wonders will follow us as we follow Jesus. Because Jesus is our Shepherd, we can be confident that we will be at the place that Jesus has destined for us – near Him and with Him forever. David longed to be in the house of the Lord. He had the assurance that despite his heavy commitment and schedule as king and ruler over Israel, he would dwell with God and be with Him forever. We have no power to trust God with all our heart (Prov 3:5-6) until we encounter Jesus as our Bridegroom and our good Shepherd. May we put our trust in Him as our great Leader!