In times of anxiety, not only do we need to trust the Shepherd to provide for us but we also need to trust him to guide us (v. 3b). You know, sheep are funny creatures. They lack a sense of direction. They can easily become lost even in a familiar environment. They stray often. They are prone to wander. They need the shepherd’s guidance.
Christ reminds us that his true sheep are led by his voice. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). He guides his own through the voice of the Word and the Spirit. How many times on our Christian journey do we struggle with where the voice of Jesus is leading us? When he calls, we must follow and we must not turn back. Psalm 23 teaches us two things about the guidance of the Shepherd.
First, where the Shepherd guides is good– “paths of righteousness.” These are right and true ways of life that lead to good things. God directs our path, track, or course of action to that which is right and good (Prov. 3:5-6). Second, why the Shepherd guides is good – “for his name’s sake.” God is not a Shepherd who takes care of his sheep so that he can get wool sweaters, milk, or lamb chops. He cares for his sheep because his name is connected to his sheep. His reputation is linked to the care of the sheep. The measure of the shepherd is the condition of the flock. Like a parent is evaluated on the basis of his kids, so a shepherd is evaluated on the basis of his flock.
A phrase is popular among believers today, “God is good, all of the time.” We should remember that when we are following the Shepherd and we do not feel like where we are going or why we are going there is necessarily good for us. The truth to recall and believe is this: “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” He will make “all things work together for good” for our benefit and his pleasure. For you see, God leads his sheep in right paths for his glory, his name. He is neither careless nor irresponsible. His name is on the line – so trust HIM.
Would you pray for our family as we follow the voice of the Shepherd? Please pray that our house sells soon, that we would be able to move my wife’s parents to SLC to a suitable place, that God would meet our needs, and that we would be a blessing to churches as we travel this spring and summer on deputation?
We need to trust the Shepherd to provide for us, to guide us… and next time we will consider how the Shepherd protects us.