Theme: A Table and Place Prepared
This week’s lessons focus on how God acts as a shepherd toward his sheep, and what we are to do in response to him.
Scripture: Psalm 23
Verse 5 deals with provision. We will not lack provision because “you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” David had real enemies. They wanted to kill him. So if God was able to provide for David in a situation like that, He is able to provide for you. And He does! He provides for us very, very well. Oh, we become worried. We begin to imagine what might happen tomorrow or the day after that. There are many difficulties in our day. People are losing jobs. Some are suffering. Nevertheless, even in those difficult situations, even in the loss of jobs or families, God provides for us. The same God who provided for David in the presence of his enemies provides for us in the difficulties of our own time.
Finally, we find that the one who has the Lord for his shepherd is not going to lack a heavenly home. “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (v. 6). We desire to have a home. We are like pilgrims. We know that this world is not our home, and we are looking for a home. Well, the good news is that we have one. Our home is there at the end, prepared for us by the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is something Lawrence of Arabia dealt with in terms of eastern culture, in his classic book Seven Pillars of Wisdom. He describes how the peoples of the Near East were always moving around the great desert from the better land to the worst land. A stronger tribe would push another tribe out, and the weaker tribe would then move to land that was less desirable. So throughout history there was a constant migration around the great Arabian desert of people always being pushed away from the best land into what eventually became desert. However, as Lawrence describes it in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, what eventually lay before the people after years of struggle and of being pushed out into the desert was Damascus, which became almost a symbol of heaven for them. It was home for the wanderer. It was the goal. Damascus was the place all Arabs wanted to reach. We have something even better than Damascus. We have that heavenly home prepared for us by the Lord Jesus Christ. And if we have that heavenly home and can trust Christ to prepare it for us, as He has indeed done, then we can trust Him for these other things as well.
I end with these questions. We have been talking of the relationship of a shepherd to His sheep. The obvious question for each of us to ask ourselves individually is this: “Am I Christ’s sheep?” According to the teaching of Jesus Christ, none of us is Christ’s sheep naturally. We are ravenous wolves. We are those on the outside, those who try to destroy the flock. The only way we become a sheep is by a change of nature. Or, as Jesus said when using other language, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). So the question is: “Have you been born again? Are you one of the sheep?” If you do not begin with this question and cannot answer it affirmatively, then none of the rest of this applies to you. You must first trust Jesus as the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep. He died on the cross that you might be saved. He invites you to come to Him.
The second question is this: “Am I a shepherd to other people?” Psalm 23 describes how God is our shepherd. Yet Jesus is also described as the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Pet. 5:4), implying that there are other shepherds. All have areas of shepherd responsibility. Are you like this to other people? Do you provide guidance where you can? Safety? Provision? Do you point others to that heavenly home? Shepherding is a great calling. Let us be thankful to God for the truths of this psalm and recognize our responsibility.
In what specific ways are you in need of the Lord’s provision now? Recall how he has provided for you in the past as an encouragement to trust him to take care of you.
What are some of your responsibilities as you await God’s provisions?
Application: Knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ is your Shepherd, how does he want you to apply this by being a shepherd to other people in need?