Focus – Feeling Secure

Major Anne Pickup

by Major Anne Pickup – 

“Yahweh, my Shepherd! I don’t need a thing…your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.” Psalm 23 (The Message)

World events have been capturing my attention–the persistent tension between Israel and the Palestinians escalated by bombings, the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. Closer events have caught my attention as well–the death of two friends, the welcome of a new session of cadets and new territorial leaders, the launching of another program year in the corps and the start-up of school (teaching, studying, reading). My attention is captured…but not focused. All the tension and changes create feelings of insecurity. When life is swirling, I go to the Psalms. This time I focused on the 23rd Psalm.

Because of its familiarity, it’s easy to take this Psalm for granted. As we pore over the verses, we see David has written an allegory filled with images that paint a vivid picture of our relationship with Jesus.

The Shepherd. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” we say. When, in fact, we want many things! What we often mean is “the Lord is my Savior and I’m glad he is.” You see, there is a vast difference between the Saviorhood of Christ and the Shepherdhood of Christ. Many know Christ as Savior but not all Christians go on to experience Christ as Shepherd as described in this Psalm.

Where the Savior died for the sheep (John 10:11), the Shepherd lives for the sheep. Jesus not only wants to forgive and cleanse us from sin, he wants to be involved in our daily lives–providing, protecting, leading and blessing.

Green pastures, quiet waters. Palestine is an arid land requiring the shepherd to be diligent in finding food and drink for the flock. We have similar basic needs–food, clothing and shelter. The guarantee here is that our needs will be met…maybe not our wants, but surely our needs.

Restoration. For 20th century city people this is a comical picture. While grazing or resting, sheep often get themselves tipped over. Lying on their backs with all four legs flailing in the breeze is to be “cast down.” If cast down too long, the sheep’s major organs are unable to function properly, ultimately leading to death. The shepherd watches

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