Friday, April 15, 2016

This Week's Lectionary Reflection: The Lord is My Shepherd

KEY TEXT: Psalm 23:2-3 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness  for his name's sake.

KEY THOT: This week's readings have focused on God as our Shepherd. David in Psalm 23 gives us a beautiful portrayal of God as our Shepherd. As Shepherd, He makes us lie down on green pastures (satisfying our spiritual hunger with His Word) and lead us beside still waters (quenching our spiritual thirst with His Spirit). The goals of this eating and drinking are two-fold: (1) restoration of our souls: God refreshes our souls worn-out in life's daily struggles; (2) paths of righteousness: God guides us in making decisions that are righteous, without compromising our integrity. To achieve these goals, we need to daily feed on God's Word and also filled with the Spirit. The Scripture in itself cannot impart life. Scripture when inspired by the Spirit points us to the Jesus who alone gives life. And when that happens our souls are restored and our character transformed. 

But that presupposes something: that we are followers of Christ as our Shepherd. David was a supreme follower of the Shepherd: he did nothing without first consulting the Lord. He spent much time in close communion with Him (most of the psalms were written by him). At the greatest crisis in his life when he was rejected by his own people, he retreated into God's presence to restore his soul: "And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God" (1 Sam 30:6).

That is why Jesus said: "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5). Abiding means staying close to the Shepherd: following Him as the Spirit directs and remaining in communion with Him through the Word and prayer. We are to stay "online" with Him throughout the day, not just once a week in church.

Only as we imitate David as the man who pursued after God's heart that we can declare with him: "Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Ps. 23:6).

Father God, how marvelous are You, for You are our Good Shepherd. Feed us with Your Word and fill us with Your Spirit today we pray. Amen.

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