“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want,” are the opening words of the 23ed Psalm and some of the most reassuring in the entire Bible. It’s good for us to meditate on this verse because so many people have a view of God that is so different than how these few lines of Scripture explain Him. So many of us were brought up believing God is distant from our lives. We think of God as sitting on a cloud somewhere with nothing to do but find fault with us. He’s pictured as fierce, stern, and unforgiving, demanding perfection. This is not the God of the Bible. David in other Psalms reveals God as King, Deliverer, Shield and as a solid Rock, but these descriptions only point to the love God has for us. He is our King and our Deliverer. He is our Shield against onslaughts and He is ever steady in His love and protection for us. But, when David says, ‘the Lord is my shepherd,’ he is introducing us to the personal love of God.
The Lord (Yahweh) may be the covenant God of Israel but he is also “my shepherd,” that protects and keeps us safe. The Lord, as a good shepherd knows everything about his sheep; knows everything about us. He knows our past failings and sins yet he loves us in spite of ourselves. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Father waited every day for the boy to come to his senses and return home. Then, one day the father sees his son in the distance. He knows his son’s walk and shape. He has never forgotten a single thing about that boy because he cares for him with the deepest love. He runs towards him with arms open wide throwing himself into his son’s arms, hugging him never wanting to let him go. When the boy tries to tell his father how sorry he is, the father, filled with joy doesn’t hear him. The father calls for a party. He has the best robe, a signet ring and sandals brought for his son because the boy is restored to the family. The father celebrates for the son who was lost has come home. God, like the prodigals father, doesn’t question us or point out our mistakes. Instead, He takes us in His arms and holds us for all He’s worth.
God is the Good Shepherd that searches for the one lost sheep. The Good Shepherd never gives up or is indifferent about the search because He loves that sheep and wants it safely back home. God, who comes running to us with open arms, can always be counted on. God is not in Heaven writing down your sins to beat you up. Instead He is running towards you with open arms yelling, “I love you, I love you.”