Psalm 23, continued
* Pray. Ask God to give you an open heart and mind to learn new truths from His Word. Read Psalm 23 through three times. Record any thoughts or questions you have in your journal. If a verse stands out to you, write it on an index card and begin committing it to memory.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures;He leads me beside the still waters.”
Psalm 23:2, NKJV
Let’s continue today walking alongside the Good Shepherd as He tends to His sheep. Last time we were together we looked at how a sheep handles fear and worry. Today I invite you to join me as we look at how sheep relate to one another and how friction amongst the flock affects each one of them.
As with most animal groups there is a ranking system within a flock of sheep. Usually the ewe that is the haughtiest, most deceiving and most dominant ole gal will hold this position with pride among her flock. She carefully and proudly holds this position by bullying, butting, and driving the other members of her flock away from the prime pastures and most comfortable sleeping grounds. Ezekiel 34, gives us a first-hand picture of how the Good Shepherd will handle the ewe who butts, prods, and rules over His precious sheep.
“15) I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down,
declares the Sovereign LORD.16) I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I
will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I
will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.20) " 'Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says to them:See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean
sheep. 21) Because you shove with flank and shoulder,butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have
driven them away, 22) I will save my flock,and they will no longer be plundered.I will judge between one sheep and another.”Ezekiel 34:15-16; 20-22, NIV
When there is tension within a flock, sheep are unable to get the proper rest they need and tend to stop eating, which could evidently lead to more extensive problems.
I saw this very thing play out right before my eyes with my Sammy. When he was very young, he was cute and cuddly. He would follow close behind and never complain about what he had been given- a nice warm bed to sleep in, green grass to graze upon, clean fresh water to drink, sweet feed to fill his belly with, and a caretaker who would protect him from harm. But, the older he got, the more of a bully he became, especially with my younger sister. Anytime she was outside and I wasn’t looking, whether she was close to him or not, Sammy would run over to her and give her a good head butt. He wanted to make sure that she knew her place among the ranks- that he was in charge and she was subordinate to him. Now, when either I or my dad would come around, Sammy wouldn’t even think about butting her. It appeared that with the presence of his caretaker, Sammy forgot about his inner need to be in charge. He was more at ease and would even skip behind my sister as she ran and played.
Here is a firsthand picture of the human desire and pursuit of trying to keep up with the Joneses. Look inside any group, organization, office, church, family, or any place there are people involved and I can almost guarantee you there is a struggle for power and position. There is a fight for one to be in charge of another. This fight and struggle involves the bullying and butting of the weaker one by the stronger. Yes, the stronger may “win” the position he so desires and gain the power he has deemed rightfully his, but in the end he has only hurt and sometimes completely destroyed the very ones that surround him. The true results of this “power struggle” are only hurt, jealously, anger, bitterness, hate, and discontentment, of which no one is able to properly function in the midst of.
In Psalm 23 we see that the Good Shepherd’s sheep are able to lie down and rest because there is no tension, no struggle for power, no desire to be greater than another among the flock. There is a satisfaction, a happiness, a contentment among them that only comes when one stays in the very presence of the Good Shepherd. The presence of the Shepherd puts an end to the rivalries and desires for more that can so easily invade our homes, churches, businesses, and relationships. Keeping our eyes and hearts fixed on Him, instead of on others around us will lead to a life of contentment and rest, a life of happiness and satisfaction, a life of peace and prosperity.
One last thought and maybe this has only been true in my life- often times the need for and desire of holding a “position” is so that one receives recognition and praise from others. It is of utter importance that we examine our hearts and always remember that we are not to be in the pursuit of man’s approval, but we should seek to please the Lord in all that we do. Because it is before Him and not the neighbor next door that we will one day stand before and be held accountable for all that we have done, or not done.
“10) Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or
am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men,I would not be a servant of Christ.”Galatians 1:10, NIV