Learning To Be Led

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want

All life comes from God. God keeps faith with the birds of the air and the grass of the fields.  Jesus even asked us if God will do so much for a simple bird or wildflowers, how much more will He do for us (Matthew 6:25,26). And then Paul even tells us in (Philippians 4:19) my God shall supply all your needs.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures

Did you know that back in the days the shepherd would start the sheep grazing about 4 o’clock in the morning and the sheep walked steadily as they would graze? 

They are never still. But around 10 o’clock when the sun begins to beat down the sheep are becoming tired, hungry and thirsty. The good shepherd knew that the sheep must not drink when it was hot because their stomach was filled with undigested grass. So the shepherd would make the sheep lie down in green pastures; a cool soft spot. The sheep would not eat lying down so they would chew their cud. Nature’s way of digestion.

He leadeth me beside still waters

Sheep are very timid creatures. They are expecially afraid of swift moving waters. For them it would be like a man trying to swim with his overcoat on. The water soaks into the sheeps coat and pulls them down. Sheep will not drink from moving waters. They will only drink from still water.

He restores my soul

I have read that throughout the day each sheep would individually go up to the shepherd. The shepherd would rub their nose and lightly scratch their ears and whispered in their ears reassuring them and encouraging the sheeps to take their place. I believe that David remembered how close he once was to God and how God protected him as he went to meet the giant Goliath. But then David got busy. And he was able to look after himself therefore he felt no more need of God. So therefore he lost his nearness to God. He did wrong. He also became unhappy. His burdens of guilt became so heavy that he could not bear them. So what did he do? He repented and God heard him, forgave him and restored him. David became a new man.

He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His namesake

Sheep have no sense of direction. Horses dogs and cats can usually find their way back. Not so with sheep. Sheep have very poor eyes. They cannot see 10 or 15 yards away. Back then hills were covered with narrow paths over which the shepherds led their sheep to pasture. Some sheep might even fall to their death.

Yea though I walk through the valley of shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me

The shepherd describes an actual valley of the shadow of death in Palestine. It leads from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and is a very narrow and dangerous pathway through the mountain range. The Path is rough and there is danger that the sheep could at any moment fall to its death. It was a Forbidden Journey that one would dread to take but the sheep are not afraid because they knew the shepherd was with them.

Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me

Back then sheep were helpless animals that had no weapon which to fight with. They were easy prey to any wild beasts of the field. But the shepherd carried a rod and a staff. A rod which is a heavy club 2 to 3 feet long in (1st Samuel 17) Davis tells how he slew a lion and a bear protecting his sheep. The staff was about 8 feet long and the end of the staff turned into a crook. Many paths in Palestine are along the side of a mountain. The sheep would lose their footing and slip down hanging helplessly from the steep mountain and with his staff the shepherd could reach down and place the cook over the small chest of the sheep and lift them back onto the pathways to safety. The sheep are comforted by the use of the Shepherd’s rod and staff. It is comforted knowing that the shepherd will be able to meet any emergency.

Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies

Pastures at the Holy Land were full of poisonous plants that were fatal to the sheep if they ate it. There are also plants with sharp thorns that would penetrate their soft little noses and cause ugly sores. So each spring the shepherd would first have to go dig out the enemies for the sheep, pile them up and burn them so that the pastures would be safe and prepared for the sheep to graze. It is as if a table was prepared in the presence of their enemies.

He anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over

There were times that the sheep would cut its head by the sharp edges of a stone buried in the grass. He would check them one by one as they came in from their graze. If one was injured he would apply soothing and healing oil so instead of becoming infected, the hurt would heal quickly.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life

We see so much wickedness and evil of men and destruction of this world. Bombs which can destroy cities with one blast. We tremble at the sound of the vengeful judgment of God. But if you can fill your mind with the picture of the loving Shepherd leading His sheep then we too can feel confident that God will lead us through the dark valleys.

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

These verses alone give me much comfort, but knowing that The Great Shepherd is always looking out for me guiding, protecting, and leading me is even better.    
I am so glad that I am learning to be led, and that I too have a Great Shepherd who cares so much about me, His sheep.  

                Lead me Lord,

                  -Michelle Smith