A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23-Resident Reflections

After reading A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 for counseling homework, one of our residents wrote the following review to share on our blog.  This book is a favorite of hers as well as for many at VOH, as the author wonderfully illustrates the goodness and care of our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

This book, written by W. Phillip Keller, gives a wonderful insight into his life as a shepherd and demonstrates some similarities to God’s existence as our Shepherd. The purpose of this article is to give you a general overview of this book, so you may also want to read it as well. It has really showed me God’s tender care and his infinite grace upon us as human beings.  And the most amazing part of all this is, our finite minds cannot fully comprehend the depth of God’s love and care for us. It is indescribable, and it is the most satisfying kind of love there is.

Human beings exhibit a lot of the same attitudes, stubbornness, and naïve tendencies that all sheep exhibit. But God is a sovereign and all powerful God; and though he made us in his image, he did not make us exactly like him. We are made to trust him, because only He knows what is best for us. We think we see and know everything, when in reality, we only are able to comprehend a pinhole version of the truth.

Human beings all think their own way is most profitable; myself included. But it is when we humble ourselves, seeking God’s gentle care and all-knowing power, that we find true satisfaction. A good shepherd is always ready to defend and help his sheep. As such, God is ready to help and defend us whenever we are cast. In the Christian walk, there is no substitute for the keen awareness that my shepherd is nearby.

The Good Shepherd so desperately wants to make and mold us into the image of his son, Jesus. Just as a shepherd guides his sheep to high pastures, the Lord guides us, his image bearers, to our own high places.

Habakkuk 3:19 says:

“The Lord God is my strength,

And he has made my feet like hinds’ feet,

And makes me walk on my high places.”(NASB)

For human beings, the process of making our feet like hinds’ feet is the journey of our life on earth. Our “high places” are the glory of eternal life through Jesus who died for our sins. The “Though I walk through the valley” part of the Psalm does not say “I die there” or “stop there” but rather “I walk through” the valley. God is right there with us, along with our sorrows and suffering. He uses the sorrow and suffering to transform us from being “much afraid” to being “grace and “glory”.

In the same way, sheep are guided up some sometimes pretty steep, rough terrain. They fully depend on the shepherd to guide them where they need to end up. And though the way up to the high and greener pastures may be difficult, the sheep arrive with more than enough water and food to sustain them. But once they are upon the higher green pastures, problems still arise. Various kinds of flies and other parasites plague the sheep and the shepherd must mix an ointment to repel the bugs away. The application of this ointment to the sheep is not easy and oftentimes is a huge sacrifice of time to the shepherd. And even at that, some of the sheep try running away, thinking that they would be better off without it. The shepherd will then forcibly apply the ointment one way or another, because it is for their own good. The shepherd must also do this multiple times; as fresh application is the ONLY antidote.

There are absolutely no words to describe fully the tender care and love that our savior, our shepherd, the Lord, has for us. There is no way possible to explain how such a strong and mighty God could have possibly sent his one and only son to die for our sins on Calvary’s cross. Just as a good shepherd takes care of hundreds- even thousands of sheep- God takes care of us and he never misses a beat. He longs to have a personal, intimate relationship with each of us.

In the complexities of life, it is easy for us to forget to simply open our Bibles and dig into God’s word. But we must remember- knowing that human beings and sheep are very similar in ways they need cared for- fresh application of the Word is the only antidote to our sadness, grief, anger, bitterness, immorality, and above all, our impending condemnation if we are not believers. We MUST spend time in his word. Only he is the Soul Physician, The Good Shepherd,

The Way,

The Truth,

And The Life.

And this all will continue through eternity. What an assurance!

Bless His Name.

Jennifer Cantu
Jennifer Cantu works as a counselor and Shift Supervisor at Vision of Hope. She received her biblical counseling certification from ACBC in 2014. In addition to working at VOH, Jennifer counsels women through Faith Church’s counseling ministry. She is very thankful for ministry opportunities to help, teach and encourage women with God's Word.