It is difficult, if not almost impossible, to walk away from a very good thing. People who find themselves in such situations, whether in a relationship, a career, or whatever else, usually cherish the experiences. Perhaps the relationships are the most fulfilling. To know and be known to the point where words seem unnecessary for communication; where the person we are with seem to know our thoughts and are able to complete our sentences. They feel our hurts even when we try to hide it from them; they are in tune with our feelings. All of this is mutual of course, for if the relationship is one-sided it is not much fun.
I like to think that as David reflected on the sheep-shepherd relationship, the “intimacy” was not lost on him. The shepherd knows the sheep and the sheep knows the shepherd. The shepherd gently leads his sheep over mountains and valleys, protecting them from all kinds of danger. He provides safe pastures for feeding and still waters for rest and refreshing. He takes care of the bruises that come with the journey, checking each sheep individually and pouring in the oil when needed. After a long day, he provides an overflowing cup from which each sheep drinks; not rationed amounts but enough until it is satisfied.
The sheep trust their shepherd. They “know” that he will do everything in his power to ensure their welfare. Despite the tendency to wander, they are never out of the shepherd’s sight. Even if one goes astray, the shepherd will secure the others and go looking for the one that strayed. In today’s parlance, they have it good. It is no wonder therefore, that David closes his psalm with the words, “And through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place” (Psalm 23:6b, The Amplified). Where else would he go? Who else could take care of him the way the LORD, his Shepherd, could and would? This was the same Psalmist who said in another place, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11, KVJ).
Like David, we too can experience the richness and intimacy of our relationship with our Shepherd. It starts with trusting Him with the things that pertains to us; to abandon ourselves in absolute surrender to His care. It involves staying committed. That is not an easy thing to do because like sheep we do not always know what is best for us. But our Shepherd can be trusted. There is no one like Him and if we allow Him to, He will lead us home – safely.