“I am the good shepherd”
By Jon W. Quinn
The Psalms are very vivid as they deal
with the full range of human emotion, from the highest joys to the lowest
despair. We find there the confident statements of those who have, with God's
help, just won victory over tremendous odds as well as those who are in the
midst of trouble and somewhat impatiently call upon God to act quickly before
all is lost. The Psalms cover all of life's situations and provides a
revelation from God about each one.
But the Psalms also speak of something else. Following the resurrection of
Jesus from the grave, He sat with His apostles and explained the events which
had transpired. He said, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was
still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses
and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." (Luke 24:44).
So the Psalms also referred to the Messiah to come. They did so frequently,
many times using figures of speech and illustrations. Some have called Psalms
22-24 the "Shepherd Psalms" because they each give a distinct view of the
coming Christ. The 22nd Psalm shows the suffering Shepherd, tormented and
mocked, dying for His sheep. The 23rd Psalm shows the guiding Shepherd who
cares and provides for His sheep. The 24th Psalm foretells of the Chief
Shepherd as King entering into the eternal city leading His sheep to glory.
The Death of the Good Shepherd
"I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the
Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep."
The 22nd Psalm vividly describes the death of Jesus almost a thousand years
before His birth. David is the writer and there are details in it that relate
to circumstances in his own life. But many of the figures of speech he uses
apply prophetically to His descendant, Jesus of Nazareth, and not to himself.
As Peter said, David often spoke as a prophet concerning the Christ (Acts
The 22nd Psalm begins with the cry, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken
me?" Jesus was indeed on the cross alone. The Father had withdrawn His
presence while Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the world. In order for the
sacrifice to be complete, God could offer His innocent Son no comfort or aid.
How low did Jesus get that day? Simply put, He could get no lower. His anguish
was so complete that there was nothing left that could have been done to Him
to make it worse.
"I am a worm, and not a man,
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,
'Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him.
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him."
As the Shepherd considers what His life has come to, He sums up His
circumstances as He hangs on the cross and the hours drag on.
"They open wide their mouth at me,
As a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
All my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It is melted within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
And Thou dost lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones.
They look, they stare at me;
They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots."
As so the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. But He will be
called from the grave. The power of God shall perform it.
The Guidance of the Great Shepherd
"Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the
sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip
you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing
in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.
Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20,21). If you can say "The Lord is my shepherd" then you
can also say "I shall not want." In fact, the two go together. Those who lack
faith in the Shepherd certainly also lack the confidence and peace that faith
in the Shepherd provides.
The 23rd Psalm begins:
"The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my souls;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake."
It is as the Hebrew writer said, our Shepherd equips us to do every good
thing. The Shepherd does not just point out into the wilderness and tell His
sheep to go find pasture and "good luck." He leads us. He goes first. He faces
trouble and temptation. He knows where the choicest way is and that is where
He guides us. Your life will be better if Jesus is your Lord.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death,
I will fear no evil ; for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou dost prepare a table before me in the
presence of my enemies;
Thou hast anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all
the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for
ever." (Psalm 23:4-6).
At the end of the dark valley evil has no power over those who live by faith
in the Shepherd. One day, we shall look back over our experiences in the
valley and see how God's "goodness and mercy" were present and at work all the
way to bring us to dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
From The Bradley Banner 9/14//2014
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway