Stinging WordsHow have you experienced emotional or spiritual captivity?
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The Good Shepherd
The Lord is my shepherd (v.1).
When I was in high school, my parents took our
family to Israel. The collision of histories, sights,
languages, and beliefs stretched my world.
Shepherding is still an important way of life in Israel.
It’s common to see a shepherd taking his flock from one
place to another. However, unlike the sheep herding
I had seen back home in Texas (where a rancher on
horseback typically drove the sheep forward), there the
shepherd walks ahead of the sheep—leading the way.
If something dangerous lies ahead, the shepherd faces it
first. The sheep don’t have to worry about where they’re
going. They simply follow in safety.
Emerging from this same culture and practice, the
psalmist used this imagery of the shepherd to remind
us of what God is like. Psalm 23 (one of the bestknown
passages of Scripture) reminds us that our
concerns and well-being are in the Shepherd’s hands.
Because the Lord is our Shepherd, we “have all that
[we] need” (v.1).
This Good Shepherd leads, renews, and guides us
(vv.2-3). Nearly all of the initiative in Psalm 23 is the
Shepherd’s, not ours. Most of the responsibility is on the
Shepherd, not us. The Shepherd shows the way, and we
To be sure, this doesn’t mean that we will avoid all
trouble or danger in life. Rather, it means that even on
those occasions when we must walk “through the darkest valley,” we have no
reason to fear because the Good Shepherd is “close beside [us]” (v.4).
I find that a good bit of my anxiety comes from believing that I have to be the
shepherd. But I don’t. God is the only Shepherd we will ever need.
Read John 10:1. How is the imagery of a shepherd used here?
What are some of the words John repeats that emphasize how we
should encounter and follow the Shepherd?
How have you been tempted to move ahead of the Shepherd? Where
is the Shepherd inviting you to follow?
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