Psalm 23: Who is leading you?

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even 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.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

Still Standing – A Study of a Roadside Tree #10 | Outside Elgin, TX | January 2023

I am known as a leader. It’s been validated in any number of ways – from responsibilities I have in the church, to comments of others, to my interest in leadership and in teaching others about it. I don’t say this to boast. In fact, we are all leaders in some realm. We all have influence over others. Some of us are more aware of it than others. Some are better than others. Some are more hesitant than others. And some are more dangerous than others.

The danger comes when you combine a high degree of competence with a low level of godly and moral character. Think of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin. David Koresh. Competent. Capable. Charismatic. Deceitful. Dangerous. Deadly. Too many people have been led by such as these. Too many have been used and abused by such as these.

Jesus makes a comment about such leaders, with Satan as the chief example. He is the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He is capable but cunning, and set on our eternal doom. Jesus, however, describes himself as the Good Shepherd who has come to give us life in abundance. He speaks of leading his sheep who know his voice and follow him.

David – 1000 years before Jesus was born – writes about the LORD being his shepherd. And all that he does is good. Safety, security, and rich supply are the LORD’s gifts. Eternal joy in his presence is his hope. Confidence in the face of challenge and danger is his fortune.

David identifies the One who supplies all this: the LORD. This is the holy name of God, the One who is, who revealed himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:14) He was to tell the children of Israel that “HE WHO IS” had sent him to them. It’s lost on us when we use the word, “LORD,” even when it’s written in ALL CAPS. But this is no throw away term. God has a name – a good name – and wants to be known by us. We can call on his name. He hears and answers when we call.

Perhaps this can better come into focus by way of an illustration. A tour guide in Israel was telling his group about how shepherds don’t drive their sheep, they lead them. And over the next hill there appeared a herd of sheep being driven rather than led. The group asked about this, wondering whether he had been mistaken. The guide replied, “That’s not the shepherd. That’s the butcher. He’s driving them to the slaughter.”

Are you being driven or led? Are you following God’s lead or others? Are you in a place of security, safety, and supply? If so, thank God! If not, seek him and know that he is the truly good shepherd.

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