God, the Good Shepherd
David, the author of Psalm 23, illustrates the relational and covenantal nature of God from the vantage point of a shepherd taking care of his sheep. Just as sheep are totally and completely cared for by their shepherd, God’s people are looked after by their Lord; the Good Shepherd makes sure that He provides for His children.
God meets our needs. He meets the needs we are aware of, and He also meets the needs we don’t even know about. Regarding our spiritual needs, often what we need spiritually, we won’t desire in the flesh. God will make us lie down (vv. 2-3a) to give us the restoration and rest our soul needs. He gives us places of comfort so we can refocus on Him, recharge and be restored to full capacity.
God meets our directional needs as well (v. 3b). Because we are sheep that are in constant need of guidance, God is our ultimate personal shepherd. The Lord God guides us like a modern-day GPS. When we get off a righteous course due to our own disobedience, God recalibrates our lives, course-corrects us and fully reconnects us with Him. So many people do not recognize or guard against getting direction from the wrong GPS — secular culture, the media, friends, or even personal opinion. God wants to lead in His way, and if we get off track, He guides us to get back on track.
In addition to spiritual and directional needs, God offers to meet our emotional needs (v. 4). Sheep are easily emotionally stressed by events that are not as bad as they appear. For example, when sheep find themselves in the shadows, they interpret the lower light they experience as darkness to be feared. Because of the inability of sheep to see the big picture, they assume that the darkness signals that they are in the dead of night. As a result, they operate in fear. Many believers similarly allow temporary difficulties or challenges to cast a shadow on how they operate and move through life. Gripped by fear or paralyzed by other negative emotions, they do not turn to God and allow Him to lead them. God wants to calm our fears and help us confidently trust in Him and His ability to lead us well.
Beyond our spiritual, directional and emotional needs, our physical needs can be met by God, too. Just like a shepherd feeds his sheep when they are hungry and cares for his sheep when they are wounded, God cares for the tangible, physical needs of His people. In Psalm 37:25b, David says, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread.” God cares for His people when they are hurting. Scripture says, “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds” (Ps 147:3). God is an overflowing source of provision, and His provision never runs dry.
Because we are spiritual creatures who do not live on Earth forever, God can meet our eternal needs. He is preparing a place for us (John 14:3). He wants us to love Him and intentionally pursue His goodness with eternity in mind. We serve a God who is comprehensive. He can meet all our needs as we follow Him and trust Him. When we understand how God leads, cares for, guides, and protects His own, we can confidently lean on Him and look to Him as our Good Shepherd.
- While all the needs mentioned can surface at any time, the current COVID-19 situation has pushed specific needs to the surface for many. What area of need has come to the forefront for you because of the global pandemic?
Let’s Get Personal
• Do you trust God as your Good Shepherd? How do you know? Do you exemplify your trust by following His lead?
• How has God proved Himself to be a Good Shepherd in your life? In what ways has He tangibly provided for you spiritually, directionally, emotionally or physically?
• Go deeper! What specific spiritual, directional, emotional or physical needs in your life do you believe you most need God to meet? Share your particular request with your group and talk about what you are hoping God will do to meet your need as your shepherd.
Take The Next Step
- Are you sure that your eternal need has been met? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? Are you living a life surrendered to Him in preparation for an eternity in God’s presence?
- God often works to meet the needs of believers as they work to meet the needs of others. How are you allowing yourself to be a vessel that God can use to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a world that needs to know He can practically and tangibly meet their needs?
- Want to go deeper? Take a look at the following passages: Psalm 37:25; 147:3; John 14:3; Ephesians 3:20.
RENEW YOUR MIND
“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1