One of the hazards of reading extended metaphors in the Bible is the difficulty of knowing exactly how the ideas in the word pictures actually apply to your own life. The Shepherd Psalm is couched almost entirely in images, and you can muse dreamily on the happy pictures of sheep and their shepherd in a meadow and not get the point for your life right now.
Right now you might be underwater financially, in danger of losing your job, struggling with poor health, afraid of being left alone, your thoughts miserable and depressed. Your recent efforts at making things better may have failed, and you feel surrounded by dream crushers who make you feel small and insignificant. You are also sadly aware of how you have disappointed God with sinful words and actions.
That’s why we are glad to have Jesus in our lives. He brings refreshment to the weary: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” (Psalm 23:2,3). After David’s hardships, God gave him relief. After you have struggled, your Shepherd will send you kind words, a new friend, helpful medication, a financial boost, or new insights into the significance of your accomplishments. When you are dragging because of your guilty knowledge of your own sins, his words of unconditional love and forgiveness will refresh your soul. You still matter to him!
Watch for these moments! They are not coincidences; they are your loving Shepherd’s acts of restoration.
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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