“I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11)
The 23rd Psalm reminds us that God our Shepherd will provide for us in need and soothe us in danger. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, we should not fear. He gives us a place of safety and support. He offers rest and refreshment. He gives us green pastures and still waters. His love surrounds and protects us in even the most difficult situations.
When we sing, “My Shepherd will supply my need” (Hymn 664), we are reminded to trust God. The Lord our Shepherd will provide for us — when we are confronted, when our spirits are flagging, even in the face of death. Our Shepherd provides for us out of his own life. Instead of running away in the face of danger, the good Shepherd sacrifices his own life for the sheep.
Our Shepherd sacrifices his own life for us, so that we may share in the life of his one flock. The good Shepherd knows his sheep, and our Shepherd knows us. He knows our needs and fears and dangers. He knows about the wolves that threaten us, and the darkness that makes us afraid. His love is with us, and he comforts us abundantly.
But there’s something special about this “comforting.” Our Shepherd’s gift is not just for making us cozy. Comfort literally means to strengthen (“com” + “fort,” with strength). As our Shepherd revives us and anoints us, he sends us forward to live our lives. With him, we walk through the valley of the shadow of death – we don’t take up residence there. Our dwelling is with the good Shepherd, whose comfort will strengthen us to face the challenges of our lives.
Look it Up
See Isaac Watts’ text, “My Shepherd will supply my need” (Hymn 664), which paraphrases Psalm 23, especially verse 1: “He brings my wandering spirit back when I forsake his ways, and leads me, for his mercy’s sake, in paths of truth and grace. ”
Think About It
When have you walked through the valley of the shadow of death? How have you known God’s comfort when you were most deeply troubled? How did God’s love comfort and strengthen you?