Surely Goodness and Mercy

Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart

I hope you have enjoyed this study on the 23rd Psalm. As we conclude, we see the loving shepherd bringing in the sheep at the end of the day. He examines each one.

Some have burrs to be pricked or wounds to be tended. The shepherd anoints them with oil, a plentiful, overflowing supply.

You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5

This shepherd shows his goodness daily to his sheep. He demonstrates his mercy for them, truly loves and cares for them.

Jesus, the good shepherd, gave us another aspect of the relationship between sheep and shepherd as they exit the sheep pen each morning. Even if there happens to be two flock of sheep in the pen, the flock will only follow its own shepherd.

“… the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact they will run away from him because they do not know a stranger’s voice.” John 10:3-5

A shepherd names each one? It seems so. He knows them well and they know his voice.

Do you know His voice? Or are there times when you follow what you would like for Him to be saying to you? Is it His idea or yours? 

Sheep recognize their master’s voice because they are with him day and night. Since God is ever-present, we can have that relationship as well. Spending time with our shepherd and “practicing His presence” requires us to be intentional. The more we do, the more we can relax and trust Him.

Jesus also said,

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15

Though David the psalmist did not know Jesus, He looked toward the time when Messiah would come. He said,

Surely goodness and love [mercy] will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

We can be sure of “dwelling in the house of the Lord forever,” because our good shepherd laid down His life for us. A good shepherd indeed.

Update on my mother: She makes some improvements and then regresses. It looks less likely that she will bounce back as well this time. I’m praying for ways to help ease her anxiety over having less mobility and increasing dementia. May she feel the shepherd’s care.

~ Joyce ~

 

He Restores My Soul

   Searching His Word

     Seeking His Heart

(David, the Shepherd) did for the sheep what they couldn’t do for themselves. Having the luxury to lie down in green pastures was one of those things. When one pasture had been well used, that meant moving on to another area. The shepherd sought out and led them on to good grazing land.

When our son was about a year old, we put him outside on a blanket with his toys. We were assured that he wouldn’t leave the blanket because he did NOT like the grass. The feel of it, I guess. He would make his way over to it, but as soon as he touched the prickly stuff, he made a face and moved quickly back to the middle of the blanket.

Not so with sheep. They walk in it, lay in it, and eat it—preferably green grass of course. To lay down means they are perfectly at ease, trusting the care of the shepherd to provide.

When it comes to water, some sheep are very finicky. If the water is a fast-moving stream, it will often scare the sheep. At times, a shepherd will cup his hands in the water to form a still “bowl” of water, or better yet, lead the sheep to a level area where the water forms a quiet pool rather than a flowing stream.

So, we see how the shepherd works and cares.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still [quiet] waters, he restores my soul. Psalm 23:1-3

He restores my soul. Ah, can anything be better than these beautiful words? Being restored. Soul-deep restored.

I’ve decided that’s a phrase I want to hang on to. These are words to whisper to the Lord as you move through a good day or a hectic week. “Thank you, Lord, for restoring my soul.” Or “Help me, Lord, restore my soul.”

I had no more than written this blog when a few days later we had to take my mother to the hospital. On the way, I thought of my words of wisdom to you. So I whispered to God, “Restore my soul.”

The next day, there was talk of possibly doing a colonoscopy to find the source of her bleeding. A colonoscopy for a 95 year old? What a decision. I fretted over it and then decided to just put it in the great shepherd’s hands. I slept well and searched for what answers He would give the next day.

I had a text discouraging me to consider it. Later, a different doctor in the practice came in to discourage the thought of a colonoscopy. The Lord provided.

He often does things like that, restoring our souls with underlines. Whisper those words today.

~ Joyce ~