For me the hint came when I read in the “Song of Songs” that the lover/Solomon/Jesus, in the first of his nine impassioned proclamations of love in verse nine, referred to his amazingly beautiful bride as his “ra`yah” –Darling-beloved.
The big question that hit me was; why did Solomon use that word? You will only find it there in the Song of Songs except one time in the difficult passage where Jephthah’s daughter in Judges 11:37 is going to bewail her virginity with her “Ra’yah” companions in the mountains.
Answer: the root of the word is “ra`ah” to shepherd. No doubt Solomon being David’s son understood the connection to love and shepherding and his experience with the Good Shepherd would have know immediately why Jesus ask Peter three times to feed and shepherd His sheep, as this was the commandment that Jesus emphasized, LOVE.
So my mind went back to the practical aspects of the 23rd Psalm when it comes to love. What do I want for those I Love?
Psalms 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall Not Want”
Number one is that they have Jesus as their Shepherd, that way I know they shall not want, period. Actually this sets up the rest of the Loving as how could you love or be loved with a dark hardened heart?
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
Number two, they eat and rest. What mother doesn’t love to feed they’re baby and put them down for a nap. What loving father wouldn’t want his children to feast on God’s word, then rest and ruminate, (chew the cud) to receive the full nourishment and health as a result. Oh, if I only knew the importance of grazing on God’s word and resting, slowing down to wait on the Lord as I “qava” to eventually rise up on wings like eagles. The mistakes I have made because I was tired and hungry were almost countless and so senseless yet, have brought phenomenal pain and heart ache to those I love the most. Interesting isn’t it, that if we don’t put the oxygen mask on ourselves first we are in no position to love others.
He Leads me beside still waters.
Hunger then thirst, both immensely critical to physical, spiritual and emotional health. When we hear those still waters we get thirsty and gain the abundant life by drinking deeply from the Spring that wells up to everlasting life. Once again still waters aren’t rushing waters, sheep are terrified of rushing water and will die of thirst rather than drink from them. Just try, truly drinking from God’s word while rushing, you will die of thirst.
He restores my soul.
Yes, eating, resting and drinking lead us there, yet I need Jesus to put me up on His shoulders, without Him there is no restoration. By that I mean I have to reach out in prayer while I am doing all these to get my soul restored, Jesus’ is willing to restore it but I have to be with Him to have it happen. The mother or father that lays food and drink at their children’s door are abusing their children by neglecting a bigger need, affection. How do I get a Jesus hug without prayer? Without holding my arms out and looking into His eyes. How can I restore my wife’s soul if I never touch her, believe me the Good Shepherd knows your need for affection.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for His names sake.
Once again, would a father who loves his child allow them to run into the street, or take them to hold up a bank? No, the Good Shepherd helps me with my homework, takes me to His place of prayer, teaches me the Word of God, shows me the light for the path. Love tells someone when they are headed for trouble points them to God and a better path.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me, thy rod and staff they comfort me.
My mom/dad/spouse have the biggest God and a faith so big that they can move mountains, they have the strength to hold onto God like Jacob and the courage of Daniel, nothing can hurt me when I am with them. They trust God enough to risk disciplining me, choosing God and what’s right over my acceptance and as a result I feel safe knowing they love me too much to have my way if it’s harmful to me or the Kingdom.
He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
Love never fails, so lets eat. Remember in Acts 27, when Paul was on the boat headed for Rome and the storm a northeaster raged so severely that the men would not eat. Paul’s faith was such that he prepared a table for them in the presence of their enemies, as did Christ in the storm. We are all still eating that bread. When we panic those who are under our care, panic, you have dropped your shield of faith as a Spartan mother would tell you, either come home with your shield or on it.
He anoints my head with oil.
To be touched on the head is an extremely intimate gesture, don’t try touching someones head you aren’t close to, just sayin. What dog or cat dosen’t seem to crave being petted, watch a lover stroke their beloved head or hair. Yes inside that word is this idea of petting but even cooler in my view is the idea that oil spreads so the petting and stroking goes every where even inside the pours. Yes, King David, said God you are my favorite, my anointed. How cool is this that Jesus anoints us, how can we anoint those we love?
My cup runneth over.
In the middle east a sign that you are welcome to stay as long as you want and you will continued to be served. Drink to your delight with delight being something that we want our beloveds to feel when we are with them.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This is my favorite part of the 23rd Psalm, according to A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. The book explained that when sheep have a good shepherd that If they were led beside still waters and laid down in green pastures and if he anointed them with oil to keep the bugs off. When he set a table for them in front of the bear or the wolf then the sheep will take a completely barren piece of ground and turn it green and lush, based on the way they graze and their manure. In fact in the middle east sheep are called the animals with the golden hooves.
The result of The Good Shepherd leading us was that we would leave a fertile pasture that was able to feed the world for centuries, and so it has for me and you to this day in the Psalms…
King David’s son Solomon understood this when in The Book of Song of Songs in the first chapter the Shulamite girl asked, Where to find the one she loved? The answer “ Song of Songs 1:8 “If you do not know, most beautiful of women, follow the tracks of the sheep”
To be shepherded by Jesus is to leave these tracks to follow, our love should do the same. What a promise!