Part 2 of a 5-part devotional by Brent Lanigan
The psalms are some of the most beautiful books written in the Bible. They articulate many emotions that people experience throughout their lives – both in times of contentment and in crisis moments. There are many psalms that reflect people’s praise to God: their joy, worship and adoration of him. But did you know that there are also psalms that express peoples’ honest and raw emotions: their fears, anxiety and hopelessness?
During this COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps you or your family are feeling overwhelmed in a way that you have never experienced before. The beauty of these “comfort psalms” is that they don’t leave us feeling emotionally helpless. Instead, because these passages beautifully reflect pictures of God’s caring character, we are reminded of how much God loves us. Comfort psalms give us hope, peace and assurance that God is always with us and fully understands all the emotions that we feel deeply during times of crisis. Are your ready to discover God in the comfort psalms? Let’s get started:
Part 2: God Is Our Shepherd
Psalm 23:1-3 (a psalm of David) The Lord is my shepherd. I have everything I need. He gives me rest in green pastures. He leads me to calm water. He gives me new strength. For the good of his name, he leads me on paths that are right.
In an article on the website Modern Farmer, Craig Rogers writes about 10 things he’s learned in his experiences of being a shepherd. In one of his points he shares that the work of shepherding feels like a humble occupation because it is so looked down upon by others. He says that this is because the work of shepherding has always been viewed as the work of the lowly, the down- trodden, and the disrespected. Another observation Rogers makes? That the more concern the shepherd has for each individual animal, the healthier the entire flock will be. He emphasizes shepherds learn quickly that the path to success in shepherding the whole flock depends on having compassion for each individual lamb. Do these two qualities about shepherding sound familiar? Today’s reading focuses on God as our Shepherd.
In the farming world, a shepherd is responsible for the well-being of his flock. How does he do this? By protecting sheep from wild animals, preventing them from getting lost, making sure the sheep have enough to eat and drink, ensuring each ewe mother gives birth safely to each lamb and by compassionately tending to any injured sheep or lamb in the flock. In Psalm 23, probably David’s most well-known psalm, David pictures God as a Shepherd because he gives us everything we need to ensure our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being: rest when we feel weary (green pastures), peace when we feel anxious (calm water), spiritual strength when Satan tempts us (new strength), and guidance to help us do the right things (paths that are right). God is our Shepherd and while his Church is a vast flock, he has compassion for each of us as a precious, individual lamb!
Questions To Discuss
1) When you hear the word shepherd, what word pictures do you think of that would describe what a shepherd is and what he does?
2) Do you think our world values the occupation of shepherding?
3) In what ways is God your Shepherd? How has he shown you compassion?
Thank you God for being our Shepherd. Thank you for giving us what we need in all situations: rest, peace, spiritual strength, guidance. Thank you that you give us these things abundantly because you love us as your lambs very much. Amen.