Day 22 of Lent, Psalm 28:
Be their shepherd, and carry them forever.
I feel tired today. You probably know the feeling after a long week of being up too late, up too early, and pulled in a dozen directions. Lunches have to be made, kids need to get to four different schools, among countless other things. Also, my husband, Brian, is out of the country to South Asia for 10 days. This is day 8 and I am starting feel it. I feel a little worn and a little tired. While he has been away, I have had 3 different groups of students over, which I do love. Yesterday, since one of my sons needed to be at school at 6:00 am for an away tennis tournament, I set my alarm for 5:45. It accidentally went off at 4:45 and I couldn’t go back to sleep! You know those kinds of days and weeks. I am also preparing for a seminar that I am giving at a conference next week. It has been difficult to make or take chunks of time to work on it, but it seems to always be on my mind. Often the things that are always on my mind, tire me out more than lack of sleep or a busy schedule.
I share all of this because, right now I feel I need some rest and restoration. How do you feel right now? Often this time of year in the school year can feel tiring. As a college student, there is a need to push hard and finish well, or at least better. As a parent, the activities start to ramp up with sports, every end of the year event possible, weddings, graduations etc. What if there is no rest in sight? What if you know that tomorrow will probably look like today? This is one reason I am thankful I have a Shepherd. I am in need of some shepherding.
A shepherd knows a Shepherd when they see one
David was a shepherd who knew the Lord. I think He could see vividly from his life experience, how God was like a shepherd to him.
Think about the following words from a shepherd speaking about a Shepherd. From Psalm 28 David says:
Blessed be the Lord,
Because He has heard the voice of my supplication.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults, and with my son I shall thank Him.
The Lord is the strength of His people and He is a saving defense to His anointed.
Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; be their shepherd, and carry them forever.
David knows what it entails to be a good shepherd. A shepherd knows shepherding and knows what the sheep need. A good shepherd has his sheep as a priority.
I like the picture of the interaction given between the sheep and the shepherd in Psalm 23 which David also wrote:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (you probably know the rest, but here is some of my paraphrase):
A shepherd will lead His sheep to green pastures to rest in. He knows they need rest and He will be glad to give it to them.
The shepherd gives His sheep their everyday needs– green grass, quiet waters and restotation. A shepherd knows his sheep and takes care of them.
The shepherd protects His sheep, stays with them and is a comfort to His sheep. They trust their shepherd that He will defend them. Who else can they look to?
Sheep wander off
Sometimes the shepherd needs to go find his sheep, search for them and protect them. Why would a sheep wander off when they have everything they need– rest, their needs met, even the shepherd, himself? Even sheep are probably curious (and not that smart), about what is over the next hill. Maybe they instinctively want to look for “better and greener” grass. Possibly, they are not staying close enough to their shepherd. (Is this familiar?)
Jesus knows and cares for His sheep
Jesus is the Great Shepherd. As a “sheep,” I can learn so much about God’s nature through David’s imagery. God will lead, tend, gather, guard and even carry His sheep. He will search for them and seek them out, for He cares for them. The Great Shepherd feeds his sheep, leading them to good pasture and granting them the rest they need. He will even lay down His life for his sheep and deliver them.
Most of us do want to hear the Shepherd’s voice and to follow Him to the green pastures and still waters He provides. This sounds a lot like peace, direction and comfort. Maybe sheep life seems a little boring to you, but this sounds pretty good to me right now! I think we all want a little peace, comfort and direction.
Often though I can act like something else will give me rest: time off, more sleep, chocolate, protecting my schedule, time with people, time away from people… Sometimes these do give me rest. But really He gives me the rest I need. What I really need this tired day is to stay close to my Shepherd, so I can hear His voice. He knows I am a silly sheep. He will lead me, and restore me. I know my shepherd will take care of my needs. I can trust Him and I do not have to go looking for better grasses.
- Where do you need carrying? What is in your load that you need to let Him carry?
- What do you need to be lead in?
- Where do you need protection? What is pulling on you, tempting you or distracting you?
The Lord is the Good Sheperd. I want to stay near Him and hear His voice.