The LORD and the LORD alone is my shepherd

Toward a response to the moral chaos that surrounds us
Crowds and compassion

We need a shepherd

Shepherd to still waters

Because we live in a fallen world, we have disappointments. Others let us down and we sometimes let others down. It is especially troubling when we are disappointed by leaders. Too often we set them up for failure by having expectations that they cannot fill. To be human is to be tainted with the Fall; we are far from perfect. Perhaps this is why many of us find comfort in Psalm 23.

God is the shepherd

David begins by making a declaration that the LORD, Yahweh or Jehovah, is his shepherd. David is the king who is shepherded by God himself. In other words, David is acknowledging that he needs to be lead.

When David wrote this psalm, he was at the top of the food chain and arguably one of the most powerful men in the world. Even though he occupies such a lofty position, David knew he needed God. It is the LORD and the LORD alone who was David’s shepherd. Contrast this with current notions of self made men who need input from no-one.

 A Lesson for Leaders

If David, arguably the greatest king in Israel’s history, needed God as his shepherd, as leaders we would do well to keep in mind our own need. Christian leaders, while filling the role of under-shepherds, need to remember that we are still sheep that are prone to wonder off and get lost.

Many Christian leaders have fallen into sin or error by believing their own press clippings and forgetting or ignoring their need for God. When this happens, it turns out badly for everyone involved.

The result of following

What is the result of looking to the LORD as my shepherd? David says, “I shall not want.” It is on the basis of acknowledging God as my shepherd that I can begin to experience contentment. Jesus said,

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

The rest of the psalm describe what “not wanting” looks like or foundation upon which David is content. The shepherd leads him. David understands that because of God’s character, David can expect good things from God such as green pastures and still waters. David knows that the shepherd has David’s best interest in mind.

Like David, our understanding and our practice can be two different things. David understood that his contentment comes from God, yet his affair with Bathsheba shows that, like us, he sought to find his contentment outside of God’s provision.

Without God we may at times find green pasture and still water. In a limited sense we may have some soul restoration through music and the arts. Yet it is only through the Good Shepherd, God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, that we can be truly be guided into the paths of righteousness. It is only through that relationship with Jesus Christ that we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fear. It is only a relationship with God through Jesus Christ that will allow us to dwell with God forever.

It is God and God alone that can provide all these benefits. The emphasis is on the character and nature of the shepherd. God is the only shepherd we can completely trust.

We let others down. We let ourselves down. Others let us down. Yet through it all God remains faithful as David reminds us in Psalm 23.

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Mark McIntyre

A follower of Jesus Christ who shares observations about how Scripture should impact the church and the world. Mark is the original author and editor of Attempts at Honesty.
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Toward a response to the moral chaos that surrounds us
Crowds and compassion
7 comments
James Boyd
James Boyd

The failings of men are creating a turning away from the church. In a recent "Gallup Politics" article, Lydia Saad wrote that a June 7-10, 2012 Gallup poll revealed only 44% of Americans show a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the church or organized religion. One reason people may be losing confidence in the church is a lack of confidence in church leadership. Church leaders, pastors and deacons etc. are supposed to hold themselves to a higher moral and spiritual standard. They have a responsibility to provide an example to others in the church and especially to those outside the church of how a Christian is to conduct themselves. I having primarily attended Baptist churches can only speak to what I have witnessed there. I am not condemning Baptists for I remain one, but I do condemn the hypocrisy of those in a position of leadership and trust who repeatedly commit transgressions and continue to hide behind the façade of a person of holiness. My first encounter with this type of hypocrisy occurred when I was a teenager visiting my grandparents. I was late attending a Sunday evening service and as I approached the church, I saw two of the deacons standing outside the church near a large oak tree that shielded them from view of the church. They were passing a small liquor bottle back and forth between. Jesus, in Matthew 23: 27-28, proclaimed a cursed of misery and misfortune on the religious leaders of his day who like these men appeared holy on the outside but who were full of hypocrisy and iniquity within. The hypocrisy of deacons can result in a loss of membership and cripple the ministry of a church. I have seen some of the most disappointing and abusive conduct by deacons at church business meetings. I have seen deacons try to shout down and bully those who expressed a different opinion or point of view when discussing a church business matter. I have even heard a deacon tell a church member that if he did not like the way they did business he should go find another church. This is a prime reason why people are losing confidence in the church. Some deacons try to run churches like they are their own personal fiefdoms. Once good, honorable, and spiritual men they have become deluded by thoughts that they control the church. No one’s ideas but theirs are to be accepted. They and they alone know what is best for the church. Believing themselves to be men of influence and power within the church, they try to crush any perceived threat to their position. The truth is that they are just one man with one vote like every other church member. They overestimate their own influence. The real influence in the church is God and if they are not thinking of him first and doing what is his will then they will create chaos and confusion in the church. God’s command in 1Corinthians 14:40 is “Let all things be done decently and in order.” God is not pleased with discord in the church. If the pastor can not get these men to change their ways then he should go before the church and seek to have these deacons removed from their positions. A pastor who fears his deacons and will not tell them when they are in error is not the shepherd of his flock. Rancor and divisiveness disrupt the peace, harmony and fellowship of the church and the church membership soon loses confidence in its leadership. God will withhold his blessings from such a church and its membership will decline and the church may eventually cease to exist. This is why a church must be very deliberate when selecting deacons and pastors and very vigilant to the conduct of these men after they are selected. Pastors who preach or teach in error are the most dangerous threat to the unsaved’s chance of obtaining eternal salvation and the saved’s continuing confidence in the church. I have heard pastor’s claim that they know the exact time and date Jesus is returning yet the Bible says no man knows when that will happen. I have heard a pastor teach that when Abraham, following God’s instruction, took Isaac to be sacrificed that Isaac represented the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross at Calvary. That is monumentally wrong. The ram in the bush was the representational sacrifice. If Isaac represented Jesus’ sacrifice, then Jesus never died on the cross and we never obtained the propitiation for our sins or our salvation because God stayed Abraham’s hand and spared Isaac. Another time I heard a pastor in the pulpit tell that he fell out of a tree while he was on a hunting trip causing him serious injury. He said that while he was injured he realized there were some things, some sin he needed to correct in his life. Then he said he believed God pushed him out of that tree to teach him a lesson to get him to see the sin in his life. He was wrong. God did not push him out of that tree. Satan may have pushed him out but God did not cause him a grievous injury to teach him a lesson. Now God might strike him dead but even then the lesson would be more to others since he would be dead and it would not matter to him. This man had an accident. Maybe the sin in his life distracted him and he fell out of that tree out his own clumsiness or carelessness. Don’t blame God for your misfortune. Blaming God is not uncommon among supposedly righteous men. I once heard a pastor preaching a sermon and he began to tell how people at times question God. He related that he himself had questioned God during a time of personal misfortune. He said that he asked God “Why is this happening to me?” He said that he was living a good life and doing the things he was supposed to do. He said, “I don’t deserve this.” First of all, whatever was happening in his life was far better than what he deserved. We are all vile, lowly sinners who don’t deserve the mercy and grace of the salvation that God has given us through the sacrifice of His son at Calvary. Surely he does not think that he deserves better than that which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ suffered. Any suffering this man may have incurred pales in comparison with that of Jesus. Secondly, if it is God he is blaming for his travails, he is grossly in error. God is not to blame for his troubles. Does he think he is being punished for some sin? Apparently not because he stated that he was living a good life and doing the things he was supposed to do and that he did not deserve what was happening to him. Then does he think God was testing him? Well, if so, then he was in error again. God does not test men like that. Now, don’t get excited. I know your going to say “What about Job?” God did not test Job. Satan did. So, maybe Satan was the cause of this man’s woes. Maybe Satan wanted to try his faith. Well, if so, he found that this man, this pastor had a weakness in his faith and a weakness in his character. Maybe this pastor should come to the realization that he was not living his life as well as he thought. Maybe he had become too prideful and needed some humbleness in his life for who can really say that they are living their lives in perfect accord to God’s will. This man seems to have been thinking that he was. But only one man lived without sin and that was God’s perfect son Jesus. What are we to do when we have leaders like these men in the church? One pastor said that it did not matter who was in the pulpit. You can get a blessing no matter who stood there. I disagree. It is a grave error to think to this way and lost souls may be forever condemned to Hell because of thinking like this. If a man is preaching in error as the men I previously mentioned were, the congregation is not getting a blessing, especially those who are lost. Instead, the incorrect teaching of these men quite possibly may give those who are lost the curse of eternal damnation. No, not just any man should be in the pulpit. Only a man who preaches the correct word of God taken directly from His holy word the Bible should be in the pulpit. The hypocrisy of church leaders and the resultant discord among church members weakens the resolve of the church to continue God’s work. If our churches are led by men who follow God’s instructions and teachings in the Bible polls like this Gallup poll will not show a loss of confidence but a surge of confidence in the church. So how do we get pastors who preach and teach correctly and deacons who live according to God’s will. The answer is prayer. Find men of prayer; men who have a deep conviction in the power of prayer who back up that conviction with the practice of fervent prayer I believe in the power of prayer. Not only do we need to find men of prayer but we need to pray also. I have faith that God hears and answers prayer. We just have to be patient sometimes. We do not know all the particulars of what goes own in our world. Only God knows and God does things when it is His will and not ours. Pray. Give it to God and put it out of your mind. Put your trust completely in Him. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Christians familiar with this verse should know that this verse is not just an invitation to the lost who are beaten down by sin to come to Jesus for salvation and rest. It is also an invitation to those who are saved who have been beaten down by sin, like the sin of hypocrisy, to seek comfort from this burden in Christ. Pray. Confess any sin in your life. Repent and let God relieve you of your troubles. And, finally, the writer of this article, Lydia Saad, at the end of her story made the most salient and pertinent statement of the whole article. “Bringing people to Jesus and His saving power is what the church should be about, and that might just help it regain some lost ground in public opinion polls.” More importantly it will help us regain some lost ground in God’s opinion of us.

Sebastian
Sebastian

Great message Mark! At this time like no other, it is imperative that we strive to allow the Lord to lead us daily!

indy55
indy55

Mark, i insist your next blog be optimistic!

Mark McIntyre
Mark McIntyre

James, thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree that the church sometimes looses sight of her mission and gets into trouble. I was thinking about this today and may have a post on Saturday addressing this. Thanks again.

Mark McIntyre
Mark McIntyre

Thanks for the feedback. I'll see if I can't be more upbeat moving forward.

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