Psalm 23 is one of the most famous Bible passages of all time. I read the passage often because it consistently serves as a reminder of who I am, who God is, and how the Lord desires to lead me. As I was reading Psalm 23 one day recently, I begin to consider the fact that for many years in my life, I lived in rebellion to the Lord as my shepherd. Quite honestly, I did not want Him to shepherd or lead me at all.
Though I was a born again believer, my actions indicated that I wanted to be in control of my life. I wanted to choose my own path, call my own shots, and essentially lead myself… and then expect God to come along and bless me. The more I have grown as a disciple of Christ, I have completely realized that God has no interest in submitting to and blessing my plans. Rather, His desire is to shepherd and lead me according to what He knows is best - His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
So many people live constantly under the threat of failure. Why? Because we are sheep, and sheep by nature fail. But being a sheep has an upside: when you have nothing to prove, you have nothing to lose. It’s the shepherd’s reputation and success that are at stake. The good news is that God, our Shepherd, does not lose His sheep. He leads us on the right paths every time.
As you read Psalm 23, you can clearly see three ways God leads us:
He Lead Us to Rest
First, He leads us to rest. He provides all the rest we need. He does this by leading us alongside still waters. If we would just relax and yield to the control of His spirit, we would live resting, obedient lives. God has a powerful and wonderful way of grabbing us by the ears, slowing us down, showing us green pastures and still waters, and calming our anxious thoughts. He’s a master at that and knows just how to do it.
He Leads Us Through Discipline to Restoration
Second, He leads us through discipline to restoration. Sheep are often so determined to go their own way. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” In a flock, some sheep are so stubborn that their shepherd has to break off one of their legs to keep them from wandering off. Then he splints the leg and carries the sheep until it can walk. It learns to stay close and trust the shepherd to lead. God does something similar with us. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening - it’s painful!” But through experience, God restores our souls. He changes our inward bent. He administers His rod as an instrument of His love. He does it to guide us in the right paths.
He Leads Us Through Darkness
Third, He leads us through darkness. The shepherd leads his sheep from the wilderness to areas of new grass. The journey is often treacherous, the path winding through deep canyons with unsure footing and gloomy shadows. Our Christian lives, too, are filled with pits and deep valleys as we journey toward the lives God calls us to. However, God’s sheep can walk with confidence, knowing that the Shepherd has never made a mistake and never will.
Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd in the book of John. He told His followers, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus Christ, who died to pay the complete price for our sins on the cross, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He himself is the right path. I hope you will join me in choosing to be shepherded by him each day.