WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL: Trusting the Shepherd

Decisions. It seems everywhere we turn, they are waiting to be made. Often, we second-guess ourselves and question our choices. Life would be wonderful if we had a sure way of knowing how to make the right choices. We try to do the best we can with the information we have, using our God-given wisdom to assess situations and trusting the Lord that everything will turn out the way it should.

Sheep do not have that ability. Not being the smartest animals, they also have no sense of direction. In his book The Twenty-Third Psalm: An Interpretation, Charles Allen writes, “The sheep has very poor eyes. It cannot see 10 or 15 yards ahead. Palestinian fields were covered with narrow paths over which the shepherds led their sheep to pasture. Some of these paths led to a precipice over which the simple sheep might fall to its death. Other paths lead up a blind alley. But some paths lead to green pastures and still waters. The sheep followed the shepherd, knowing they were walking in the right path.” What does that have to do with you and me? I am glad you asked.

When we come to the LORD, we become His sheep, and He becomes our Shepherd. In a sense, we take on the characteristics of the sheep. Trying to navigate the Christian walk is filled with various challenges and dangers. Many paths seem to be the right ones, yet we are reminded that “there is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death” (Proverbs 14:12, NLT). The decisions we make along these paths are potential life-and-death decisions, spiritually and otherwise. To rely solely on our human abilities to successfully live the Christian life is like trying to walk blindfolded across a busy highway. We need the guidance of the Shepherd if we are to make it “home” safely.

Because of his experience as a shepherd boy, the psalmist David was fully aware of the sheep’s vulnerabilities. Putting himself in its place, he was acutely aware of his reliance on the LORD, His Shepherd, to lead [guide, direct] him and so it was with confidence in God’s ability that he says, “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3b, KJV). Notice the words “He leadeth me” because they affirm who is in charge. To be righteous is to be in right standing with God. Not only will He lead us, being the one in charge, but He will do so in and along the pathways that are pleasing to Him.

As we acknowledge our reliance upon Him to make it through this world and its challenges successfully, let us remember the words of Solomon, “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]” (Proverbs 3:5–6, AMP). What decisions do you have to make? Trust the leading of the Shepherd. He knows the way; our job is to follow Him.