Devotional

GREEN MEADOWS, DARK VALLEY,  AND A FULL-COURSE GOURMET BANQUET – Day 4

Yesterday, we learned that the good shepherd guides the sheep so he can lead them to better things to come. But this involves traveling through dark and dangerous places. Today we will learn that even in times of darkness and pain he is there walking us through it.

As you can imagine this valley of the shadow of death (as KJV puts it) is a dangerous place. In our human experience this is place in our life journey that cannot be avoided. It is place of troubles, of darkness, of pain and of suffering.
A place where Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 said he had received the sentence
of death.

But good news is the good shepherd also looks out for the sheep in unpleasant places. And the only way forward is through this valley. These are the places where the shepherd must lead the sheep if they are going to get to the destination. He doesn’t necessarily take our troubles away, but he is right there amid our troubles, whether we feel it or not.

This Psalm tells us the reason the good shepherd does this is for his name’s sake. You see to get us safely to the end of the journey is a matter of personal honor with God. Acting in faithfulness to us is the only way God can demonstrate the character of his name.

And what is his name? The name he reveals to Moses? The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6).

What a companion we have for the journey! And that’s why David says I will fear no evil. Because whatever happens to him, he knows, and believes, that God is always with him. So it is with us. Whether we feel it or not, we can know it and we can believe the good shepherd is always with us.

Devotional

GREEN MEADOWS, DARK VALLEY,  AND A FULL-COURSE GOURMET BANQUET – Day 3

Yesterday we learned that the good shepherd keeps the sheep alive by feeding and watering them, which in turn refreshes them. But there is more. We are told in verse 3: He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

This verse tells us that our journey is not open-ended wandering. It tells us that the sheep are not left to the devices and desires of their own heart. The sheep don’t get to plan the journey. And knowing the intellectual capacity of sheep, this is a good thing. Sheep are not the brightest bunch and they have a great capacity for getting lost. They have many strong points, but intelligence, common sense and good sense of directions are not one of them.

That’s why the itinerary does not lie in the sheep’s hands. It lies in the hands of the good shepherd. And he makes sure that the sheep stay on the right kind of path. A different translation renders it as path of righteousness. The idea contained in that is, there are good places and there are bad; the good shepherd, out of his faithfulness, makes sure, that they don’t stray from the right paths into
dangerous places.

For me that is a good thing, because it shows me the agenda of the good shepherd. You see there are more than one reason for making sure that sheep eat and drink well. For some sheep, even though they are well fed and watered, the end of the story might not be a happy one. They may end up on someone’s plate as lamb chop, or used as a sacrifice.

Yet David is convinced that God does not have a hidden agenda. The good shepherd takes care of the sheep, not so that he can sell them later to be someone’s dinner. He does that so that he can lead them to better things to come.