David in "the pearl of
the psalms," "has dried many tears and supplied the
mound into which many hearts have poured their
peaceful faith" (Spurgeon and Maclaren). In Psalm 23
there is an absence of all doubt, misgiving, fear
and apprehension because David has come to know the
Good Shepherd is Jehovah.
The shepherd boy David
put his trust in the LORD who is the personal name
for God who revealed himself to Moses, as the I AM
WHO I AM. He is the inexhaustible and
self-sufficient who needs no one or anything to meet
This is the person we
need in our turbulent days. Our faith needs to be
focused on the one person who can shepherd us. Jesus
calls for an intimate reciprocal relationship with
Him as a Shepherd with His sheep.
THE LORD IS MY GOOD
"The LORD is my shepherd
. . ." (Psalm 23:1). The LORD or Jehovah is our Good
Shepherd, and He has assumed the responsibility of
the care for His sheep. As a Good Shepherd the Lord
Jesus Christ keeps His sheep. He is so good that He
gave His life for His sheep and rose from the dead.
Jesus uses the divine
formula in a solemnly emphatic statement, "I am." In
this context it has overtones of deity. The "I AM"
that Moses heard from the burning bush is the name
Jesus links to Himself in the seven "I am"
statements in John (6:34, 48; 8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11,
14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). John’s purpose in
choosing his material is to demonstrate that Jesus
is the Son of God. "These have been written so that
you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of
God; and that believing you may have life in His
name" (20:31). In each of these "I am" statements
Jesus used the simplest language with awe-inspiring
Each one of these
statements about Himself reveals some important
aspect of His character and person. The "I am" (ego
eimi) of Jesus, echoes the language of the God
of Israel, who remains the same from everlasting to
everlasting. He existed before His incarnation.
Jesus was using language that only God could use,
therefore we need to pay close attention to what He
says and the claims He makes on us.
The Shepherd is
The Good Shepherd invites
us to come "taste and see that the Lord is good." He
is the Good Shepherd. The Greek word Jesus uses to
describe Himself in John 10:11 means "good" in the
sense of morally good. It is appealing, winsome,
lovely and beautiful in that it possesses those
qualities that make it "good." Jesus Christ is
the Shepherd who has all the perfect characteristics
of the true and genuine shepherd. The word kalos
means, "beautiful" as well as "good." Rieu
translates, "I am the shepherd, the Shepherd
Beautiful." This "goodness" of Jesus is winsome and
attractive. It is inconceivable that this shepherd
would ever deceive or mislead his sheep.
As parents we encourage
our children to "be good." We want them to live up
to the best and highest qualities that one knows. We
want them to model our "good" behavior. To be good
is exactly the opposite of being bad. This is not
only our desire for our children, but for ourselves
and everyone else we love. We want to live up to the
very best we know to be and do.
Since the Good Shepherd
is omniscient, He knows what is the best and highest
good. He is all knowing, all powerful, ever present;
nothing escapes His presence. Therefore, there is
absolutely no question about His goodness. But He is
not a good shepherd, He is the Good Shepherd because
He is the I AM. The allegory of the shepherd, and
the use of the "I am" formula makes it very clear
that Jesus is claiming to be the Davidic Shepherd
Messiah (cf. Ezek. 34:23; 37:24, 25). He is the
perfect fulfillment of all the Old Testament imagery
of the Messiah. The true shepherd David has arrived.
Moreover, the Good
Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep and then
takes it back (vv. 11, 15, 17, 18). Not many
Palestinian shepherds would die for their sheep, and
no hireling can ever be conceived of doing that.
However, the set purpose and goal of Jesus was to
die for His sheep because He is the "Lamb of God."
There is another
important distinction about this shepherd. He
"knows" His sheep (John 10:14). He "knows" them by
experience, and they likewise "know" Him by
The Good Shepherd
knows His sheep
No one knows sheep like
the Good Shepherd. "My sheep hear my voice, and I
know them and they follow me, and I give unto them
eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither
shall any man pluck them out of My hand" (John
As the Good Shepherd, He
knows what He must do to protect dumb and foolish
sheep. They are helpless and weak. His omnipotent
strength and omniscient wisdom is sufficient for
every need of His sheep. There is no contingency
that He cannot meet.
The only thing that will
keep the Good Shepherd from tending His sheep is if
they will not trust Him and refuse to let Him be
The responsibility of the
sheep is to trust and obey. The Shepherd does all
the rest. There is nothing else for sheep to do but
trust themselves to the Shepherd’s care. There
really is nothing very complicated about trusting
because the Good Shepherd is absolutely trustworthy.
He always leads us to
green pastures and still waters. It is not His
nature to give us bitter water in deserts dry and
barren or stones instead of bread. The Good Shepherd
always knows what pastures are best for His sheep.
If He leads you there you may rest assured that is
His very best for you.
Are you feeding from His
green pastures, or are you trying to jump fence and
wander off into the thicket of sin?
I shall not want
With the Good Shepherd in
mind, can you think of a better description of our
beautiful Shepherd than that found in the Hebrew
Psalm 23? David’s Psalm illustrates beautifully what
our Shepherd does for us on a daily basis.
"I shall not want" because "the LORD is my shepherd"
(v. 1). Since the LORD is my shepherd there are no
legitimate needs that will go unmet. "And my God
will supply all your needs according to His riches
in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father
be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (Philippians
4:19-20). What follows in the next five verses tells
what will not go lacking because we belong to the
self-sufficient, inexhaustible, unchanging LORD.
Because He is Jehovah He will provide for us all
these things (Matthew 6:24-33).
I shall not lack peace and rest because "He makes me
lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet
waters" (Psalm 23:2). "Thou wilt keep him in perfect
peace whose mind is stayed on Thee." "The peace of
God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard
your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"
I shall not lack life because "He restores my soul"
(v. 3a). The Good Shepherd gives and sustains the
life of the helpless sheep. Jesus in the parable of
the lost son expresses the elation of the father who
rejoiced in the return of the son. "Bring the fatted
calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this
son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he
was lost, and has been found. And they began to be
merry" (Luke 15:23-24).
I shall not lack direction because "He guides me in
the paths of righteousness for His name sake" (v.
3b). The LORD leads us on the moral and spiritual
path. "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one
comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6).
I shall not lack security because "Even though I
walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I
fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your
staff, they comfort me" (v. 4). "The valley of the
shadow of death" is just as much a part of God’s
gracious path as the "green pastures" and the "quiet
waters." His sovereign presence is our safety and
protection, "You are with me . . . Your rod and Your
staff comfort me." Jesus is "the resurrection and
the life" (John 11:25).
I shall not lack the best provision because "You
prepare a table before me in the presence of my
enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup
overflows" (v. 5). The Good Shepherd is always
prepared for the arrival of His sheep. He always has
the best provisions for those who follow Him. "My
God shall supply all your needs according to His
riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
I shall never lack an eternal home because "Surely
goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the
days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of
the LORD forever" (v. 6). Our Good Shepherd has gone
to prepare a perfect home in heaven for us. Our
place is prepared, and He is coming to get us, and
take us back to be with Him (John 14:1-3). What a
Nothing can go wrong when
we are under the constant care of the Good Shepherd.
"The Lord is good," and it is unthinkable that He
can be otherwise. He always lives up to the best and
highest good an omniscient and omnipotent person can
Since this is true of the
Good Shepherd He will always gives His very best in
every situation. He will not neglect His sheep. He
always does what is best in every situation.
The Good Shepherd does
not neglect or forsake His sheep. He gives His very
best care and protection to His sheep. He is so good
that He gave His life for His sheep. He gave, and
continues to give us His very best.
He gives peace and
There is no greater peace
and security than being in the care of the Good
Shepherd. Since I am His sheep, and He is the Good
Shepherd, I am perfectly secure in His fold (John
10:28-30). I shall always receive His very best care
for time and eternity.
OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
The unbelieving world
hears us say, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not
want," and they look to see what the Shepherd will
make of His sheep. They judge the Shepherd by His
sheep. Can He point to us with pride and say, "These
are My sheep"?
Because of our depravity
and sin it is easy to fall into the habit of wrong
attitudes and thoughts about God. The Christian life
is a walk of faith, and our mental attitudes toward
God affect that walk.
Like the children of
Israel we easily fall into the habit of complaining
and grumbling against God. God promised to provide
all of their needs in the wilderness and He did.
To question whether He
was able to supply all of their needs as He had
promised is to question His goodness. We are tempted
in moments of despair at our circumstances to "speak
against" Him, to grumble and complain. The effect is
we "limit" Him because we do not trust in His
Are there certain
situations and circumstances where we limit the
power of God to supply our needs? He is able and
willing to furnish us the best table in our
wilderness if we will trust Him.
Sheep lack a sense of
direction, so they tend to wander off, and are
forever getting lost. Their lack of focus is a great
source of concern for the shepherd because they
allow the herd to go on without them while they
linger. Sometimes it’s a matter of sleeping when
they ought to be on the move with the herd. Simply
stated, there is no protection apart from the
The prophet Isaiah noted
that we humans also have a tendency to wander from
God like wayward sheep (53:6a).
Stray sheep need to be
back to the fold. That’s what Jesus, our Great
Shepherd, does for us. He comes looking for us,
scoops us up in His arms, and carries us back to His
flock where we belong.
One of the
characteristics of sheep is they are weak. They are
always weak, foolish and ignorant. That is why they
always need the shepherd to care for them. Sheep
need someone to protect them. Ever seen a "Beware of
Sheep" sign posted on someone’s gate? Have you
ever seen a wide-eyed animal fleeing for its life
from a bleating lamb? Never! Sheep
aren’t dangerous they’re virtually defenseless. All
they can do is freeze in their tracks, or at best
run. Without claws, sharp teeth, speed, or a
resounding roar to make predators think twice before
pouncing, sheep are easy prey. They can’t dash
up a tree, camouflage their color, or even swim.
When they sense danger, the poor, timid sheep panic.
Jesus disciples must have cringed with fear when He
told them, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the
midst of wolves" (Matthew 10:16a).
A sheep’s best defense is
to stay close to the shepherd and remain with the
herd. The same is true with us, isn’t it? When
we’re out of fellowship with God and isolated from
other Christians, we’re most vulnerable. We need the
Shepherd’s wisdom and strength to survive, as well
as the comfort and encouragement of our brothers and
sisters in Christ.
Sheep need someone to
keep them clean. Mary’s little lamb, whose fleece
was white as snow, must have stayed indoors most of
the time watching other sheep in the movies on TV.
Sheep have an incredible knack for getting dirty.
Dirt clings to wool.
Sheepskin is full of an
oil called lanolin. Lanolin comes through the skin
and coats the wool. It conditions the wool so that
the animal will stay warm in cold weather, but the
oily wool is one of the most effective dirt-catching
devices known to man. Every time a sheep lies down,
grass, dirt, burrs, dust, and everything imaginable
clings to its coat. Sheep are huge walking Velcro
Sheep remain dirty until
someone cleans them. And so it goes with us. We
can’t cleanse our souls. But God can, as David
reminds us (Ps. 51:7). The apostle John reminds us,
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and
righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us
from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Even though sheep aren’t
known for their intelligence, they’re smart enough
to recognize their shepherd’s voice, as Jesus
Himself points out (John 10:4).
How foolish to reverse
the roles. If you are a sheep, your welfare depends
on the Shepherd, not yourself. Don’t assume the
responsibility of the Good Shepherd. It does not
belong to you.
You may be saying, "But
Wil, we are people, we are much wiser and pragmatic
than these stupid animals."
If you see any of the
Good Shepherd’s sheep in poor condition it is not
caused by the Good Shepherd, but dumb sheep who will
not respond to His care. The Good Shepherd gives His
very best, and if you refuse to trust and obey Him
you will be ugly sheep, dirty, soiled and diseased.
Perhaps you do not belong to the Shepherd (John
Can the Good Shepherd
point to us and say with pride, "These are My
sheep!" If we refuse to lie down in His fold, or eat
in His green pastures we dishonor Him.
Do we imply in our
conversations and complaining that our great
Shepherd is not good? Do we speak against Him?
Israel sure did. For example:
"Is God among us or not?"
"Has God forgotten to be
Has He forgotten to be
"Is God’s mercy gone
"Has God in anger shut up
His tender mercies?"
"Oh God, why have You
cast us off forever?"
"Why have You made us
We have our modern day
complaints that sound so similar.
"Where is God when I need
Him?" That is an age-old question. Israel asked, "Is
God among us or not?" Do we doubt His word when
troubles mount against our loved ones or us?
The truth is He is always
with us. He has not changed addresses. He will not
leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6; Joshua 1:5).
God has demonstrated that He is with us and He
cannot lie. Jesus is the way, the truth and the
life. We question God’s integrity when we ask where
is God when I need Him? The Good Shepherd cannot
lie. He is always here in our presence. He is closer
than the air we breathe.
"Has God forgotten to be
gracious?" Of course not, He has settled that
question once and for all when He went to the cross
and died for us. How did He treat the woman at the
well? What was His attitude toward the woman who
anointed His head and feet with costly fragrance?
What did He say to the repentant thief on the cross?
He continually reaches out to us in grace and tender
"Is God’s mercy gone
forever?" That is impossible because God is
immutable. He changes not. He is a good Shepherd,
and He will never change from being the Good
Shepherd. He cannot be otherwise.
"Do God’s promises fail
forever?" Are you in a situation where it seems to
you that God’s promises have failed? Perhaps you
feel that He treats you differently than that the
way He treats your friends or others. Remember,
because He is the Good Shepherd no good promise of
His has ever failed, or ever can fail. His Word
Because He sees and knows
us from beginning to end, He makes all things
beautiful. He always sees the finished product
before Him. We are His workmanship, and He will
receive glory in all that He does.
The will of God is always
"good, acceptable and perfect" (Rom. 12:1-2). When
we fully accept that fact we will love to do it with
all your heart and all struggles disappear.
God provided for
The Good Shepherd because
He is always "good" cannot do anything but that
which is good. He can do no evil. He is the same
yesterday, today and forever, therefore He is always
good. What He declares is eternally true.
The Lord met Joshua and
promised him that He would be with him as he led the
Israelites across the Jordan.
Moses My servant is dead;
now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all
this people, to the land which I am giving to them,
to the sons of Israel. . . No man will be able to
stand before you all the days of your life. Just as
I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will
not fail you or forsake you. . . Have I not
commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not
tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is
with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:2, 5, 9).
Joshua’s testimony at the
end of his life was, "Not one of the good promises
which the LORD had made to the house of Israel
failed; all came to pass. . . . Now behold, today I
am going the way of all the earth, and you know in
all your hearts and in all your souls that not one
word of all the good words which the LORD your God
spoke concerning you has failed; all have been
fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed"
(Joshua 21:45; 23:14).
Because the Lord is
faithful we can say with full assurance, "Not one of
the good promises which the LORD had made to the
house of Israel (or Wil Pounds) failed; all came to
pass." Our Shepherd is good and faithful. He is true
to His people.
Since God is always the
same in His eternal attributes it means the Good
Shepherd will treat you and me just like He did
Joshua, David and Paul. He has not changed. He was
like this yesterday and He will be like this
tomorrow and the next day. Our Lord will be
unchanged and unchangeable forever simply because He
is the great "I AM."
Trust and obey
If we are to know God’s
perfect peace and security in His goodness we must
believe Him. We must take Him at His word. Nothing
in God’s Word can meet our needs unless we trust
Him. Christ’s sheep "know" Him (v. 14), but the most
important thing is the fact that Christ "knows" His
sheep. The result of His knowing is they follow him
Jesus said, "My sheep
hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me"
Do we look upon Him as a
faithful Shepherd? All our doubts and
discouragements are but secret accusations against
our Good Shepherd. Do you "hear," "know," and
Do you look upon Him as
the Good and Faithful Shepherd? Have you accepted
and believed as an actual fact the Lord is my Good
Shepherd? Once you discover and accept that, you
have the Good Shepherd who is all you ever need.
Are you His sheep?
Jesus emphasized a mutual
intimate knowledge and reciprocal relationship
between He and His sheep.
One of the
characteristics of sheep is their ability to go
astray. Isaiah said, "All of us like sheep have gone
astray, each of us has turned to his own way . . ."
(Isa. 53:6a). But it is also true that the Good
Shepherd took our sins upon Himself. "But the LORD
has caused the iniquity of all to fall on Him" (v.
6b). Jesus said, "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good
Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep" (v. 11).
With repeated emphasis Jesus continued in vv. 17-18,
"For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay
down My life so that I may take it again. No one has
taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own
initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I
have authority to take it up again. This commandment
I received from My Father."
Jesus always links His
death to the resurrection. The resurrection is just
as necessary as the crucifixion of Christ. Jesus
states that He has the power to take His life again
after His death (Mk. 8:31; Lk. 24:7; Acts 10:41;
17:3; 1 John 4:14). In the New Testament there is
also the emphasis that God raised Him up from the
He was given the name
Jesus "because He will save His people from their
sins" (Matthew 1:21). He gave Himself voluntarily
for our sins. He died for us in our place. "The Good
Shepherd gives His life for the sheep." He died on
our behalf, with the sense of "in our place." He
died as our substitute.
These words are akin the
apostle Paul in Romans 5:6, 8; 6:23, "For while we
were still helpless, at the right time Christ died
for the ungodly. . . But God demonstrates His own
love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us. . . For the wages of sin is
death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in
Christ Jesus our Lord." We are sinners and as
sinners we deserve to die. We deserve the death
penalty. However, Jesus Christ voluntarily died a
vicarious death to deal with our penalty. He
willingly chose to die in our place, taking our
punishment on the cross. He willingly died for
sinners and literally paid the penalty for our sins.
Not all shepherds are
willing to give themselves for their sheep. The Good
Shepherd does, however. It would be disastrous for
the sheep if the shepherd was killed. They would
perish; however, the death of the Good Shepherd
means life for His sheep because He died to give
The Good Shepherd chose
to be our shepherd. He loves His sheep. He chose to
give His life for the sheep without any condition.
The LORD God condescended to become my shepherd when
Jesus said, "I am the Good Shepherd." He was
identifying Himself with Yahweh or Jehovah (John
10:14-16, 30). But He did something only a good
shepherd would do for His sheep. He said, "even as
the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay
down My life for the sheep" (v. 15).
You become one of His own
unique possessions by believing on Him. "For God so
loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but
have eternal life" (John 3:16). In the midst of a
confrontation with some arrogant religious leads
Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd, and I know My
own and My own know Me" (John 10:14). Then He added,
"But you do not believe because you are not of My
sheep" (10:26). In sharp contrast He went on to say,
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they
follow Me" (v. 28). Jesus knows His sheep, and His
sheep know Him. There are no other options. You are
either one who has believed on Christ as your
Savior, or you have rejected Him. Do you personally
know the Good Shepherd? Do you recognize His voice?
Are you following Him?
There are other sheep
that need to be brought in (v. 16). He is speaking
of everyone who belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ as
his or her Shepherd. D. M. Lloyd-Jones candidly
wrote, "We are all equally sinners. . . . We are all
equally helpless. . . . We have all come to one and
the same Savior. . . . We have the same salvation. .
. . We have the same Holy Spirit. . . . We have the
same Father. . . . We even have the same trials. . .
. And finally, we are all marching and going
together to the same eternal home."
The Good Shepherd has no
pastures that are not green, waters that are not
still and folds that are not good. Jesus continues,
"I give eternal life to them, and they will never
perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.
My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than
all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the
Father’s hand. I and the Father are one" (10:28-30).
His eternal pastures are always secure. Eternal life
is His gift that does not end. Those whom Christ
gives the gift will "never perish." If you are
a member of His flock no enemy of the sheep will
ever snatch one from His hand. This is a personal
and permanent relationship with the Shepherd. I am
His sheep forever, and He is my Shepherd forever. He
purchased me with His own blood as the Lamb of God,
and He is never going to disown me! Our Shepherd is
always on the alert for His sheep. The Good Shepherd
is omnipotent and the sheep in His hand have nothing
to dread. No one or anything imaginable will ever
snatch them from His hand. Our eternal security
depends not on our feeble hold on Christ, but His
firm grip on us. We are secure because we have His
life abiding in us. "Your life is hid with Christ in
God" (Colossians 3:3).
Jesus assures us that He
hold us in His hand. That is an extremely secure
position. Who is it that holds us in His hands? The
one who said, "I am the Good Shepherd." But Jesus
goes on to say the Father’s hand is over His hand so
we are enclosed in the Father and the Son. "I and
the Father are one" (v. 29b). This is the kind of
love and security that keeps the believer from
sinning. The Son is one in substance with the
Father, and they are equal in power and glory which
gives the true Christian double security. They
belong to Jesus because they have been given to Him
by the Father. You cannot separate the two. Not only
does Jesus protect the believer, but God the Father
does too! Nothing can snatch the believer from the
hand of the Father. We are kept secure by the Father
and the Son.
"This is the will of Him
who sent me," Jesus has already said, "that I should
lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise
it up at the last day" (John 6:39; cf. 17:12).
We have a magnificent
shepherd who is called the Good Shepherd (John
10:11), the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20-21) and
the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). Each imagery
describes a different ministry He has to His people.
The LORD Jesus Christ is
my Good Shepherd, I shall not want. I pray that He
is yours, too. When we have the constant care of the
Good Shepherd we "shall not want." We shall lack
nothing. We are like sheep wandering helplessly in
need of the most basic needs in life unless we
belong to the self-sufficient, inexhaustible and
unchanging Shepherd. When we belong to Him we lack
nothing. He is sufficient for all the things, and He
will provide for us.
The "abundant life" (Jn.
10:10) is "eternal life" for all who believe in the
Son (3:15, 16, 36; 6:40, 47; 6:51, 58). Eternal life
is a gift that originates solely with God. It is to
live forever and it is undeserved and unmerited. It
is God’s eternal gift. Sin makes us heirs of God’s
wrath, and if God does not intervene, we stand under
divine judgment, without hope, facing the punishment
due us for our own sins. The Good Shepherd calls and
His sheep follow. God’s call is accompanied by the
power to come to Him, believing on Christ and
receiving His salvation. "My sheep listen to My
voice; I know them, and they follow Me" (John
10:27). His sheep hear and follow Him. Have you
heard His voice? Are you following Him? Those who
belong to Christ hear Christ, and are in the habit
of following Him. None of those who are called by
God to faith in Christ will be lost? How do you know
that? Because if you have been called by God to
salvation, you will believe on Christ. Have you
responded to the Holy Spirit’s pleading in your
heart? Have you come to a sense of your need for
Christ, and believed on Him to be your Savior?
Those who do not hear His
voice and follow the Shepherd are not among His
Title: Psalm 23:1;
John 10:11-30 The Good Shepherd