The Sovereign – Shepherd
“The LORD is my shepherd.”
In his natural loneliness David finds that he is not alone. He discovers that the Shepherd of the stars is his Shepherd too, and that he is being provided for with a care which far exceeds that which is his for the slumbering sheep about him.
The English word LORD as used here is from the Hebrew word JEHOVAH. This word was held in such reverence and awe by the Jewish people until it was never pronounced by the masses. Once each year it was used, on the day of the Atonement, by the high priest in the most holy place.
This word JEHOVAH means the Great I Am, the Source of Life, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He is the Eternal One. Even the heavens wax old and are changed as a garment, but He remaineth ever the same. David saw that this Great and Mighty God — the Creator and Sustainer — of all things was his Shepherd. He saw that the Shepherd of his soul is the Power which propels all stars and worlds and sends them racing along their ethereal tracks; He is the Fire which lights their glowing orbs, and the Gravitation which holds them in their ordained circuits. “This LORD,” David says, “is my Shepherd.” David makes no mention here of religion. How foolish are men who make a god of their religion, as though religion within itself can do something for them. It is not religion that the poor world stands in need of. We need this living Shepherd — one who knows us and cares for us.
The word LORD means one with Authority, the Manager, the Proprietor, the Ruler, and our common word Boss. This is exactly what Christ is to every true believer. Note the usual order in the New Testament — “Our Lord Jesus Christ.” Christ first becomes our Lord, then our Saviour. Every penitent must acknowledge the lordship of Christ before he can truly confess him as his Saviour. It is the height of folly to speak of people being saved but not surrendered. The surrender comes first. The sincere bowing penitent means surrender. Without surrender so — called faith is a farce. The unsurrendered soul cannot believe to the saving of his life from sin, and no one is saved until he is saved from sin. The devil is well pleased with all so — called evangelicals who teach that men can be saved of God and still abide in their sins. “His name shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” Upon our surrender to Him as Lord it is easy to believe Him to be our Saviour.
“The Lord is my Shepherd.” No idle, or surplus words here. Even the smallest word counts. Not that He has been, nor some time shall be, but is at this very minute. He is my Saviour and Shepherd now. No hope so, nor think so. He is now my Redeemer, Saviour, and Shepherd.
“The Lord is my Shepherd.” What a difference two small letters make. How different if David had said “a” Shepherd. The striking feature of this psalm is that of the personal pronouns. Within the limits of these few lines we have 26 personal pronouns. The entire psalm is intensely personal.
A word of warning is in order here. It is an easy matter for a church member to presume that the Lord is his Shepherd. “My Shepherd” implies that we are His sheep. How foolish for worldlings, formalists, and sinners, or wolves in sheep’s clothing, to think of these words as belonging to them. How meaningless for unborn-again church members to sing these wonderful words, or to try to extract comfort from them by quoting them. This psalm is the Shepherd’s Psalm prepared for the sheep of God — those who are His own, not only by redemption, but by a personal surrender to the ownership of God. It is nonsense to speak of the Lord as my Shepherd if I am following another master. The Lord is the Shepherd of His sheep only. The Bible speaks of wandering sheep, lost sheep, but they are not in the fold of Christ. True it is that He died for all, yet only those who follow Him are His sheep, and they alone have the right to say, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” The soul-comfort, and soul-food of this psalm is provided only for the sheep of God. Many an old goat, or wolf in a sheep’s robe, would steal the food from the Master’s sheep. We are not left in the dark as to who are His sheep. The Good Shepherd says, “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.” The sheep of God are a peculiar set. “They know not the voice of strangers, “and a stranger will they not follow.” Our Lord’s sheep do not follow the world with its follies, fads and fashions. They are crucified unto the world, and the world is crucified unto them.
The sheep of our Saviour-Shepherd are not generally noted by the world for their brilliance, neither are they without their faults, but they know their Master’s voice, and they follow His leadings.
Sinner friend, do not think me hard or cruel, but you know that you are not a sheep of God. God loves you and longs to number you among His flock, but Christ must first become your personal Lord and Saviour before He can become your Shepherd. You may even pride yourself as being a loyal member of some creed or church, and might even confirm your claim by a commendation from your religious leader, but the one question of importance is: Are you following Christ? Nothing else counts. To follow Christ means the forsaking of all else, everyone else, and even yourself also. Mt. 16:24; Luke 14:26, 33. Jesus forsook all and freely laid down His life in sacrifice that you might be delivered from sin and become the sheep of God. Come unto Him now renouncing your plans, your sins, and yourself. Call upon Him and you shall be saved. Our Lord will lift you from the fold of Satan into His own fold, and then you can truly say, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”