The 23rd Psalm is probably the most popular and beloved Psalm in the entire collection. Its simplicity and imagery are very moving. Too bad the translators of the original English translations did not see fit to use God’s personal name like the Hebrew in which it was composed. “Jehovah is my shepherd” is even more personal and impactful. 

David, of course, was a shepherd boy. He placed himself as a sheep in the flock in relation to God—the good shepherd. 

Most animals are capable of surviving quite well in the wild. In fact, some animals cannot be domesticated and wither and die in captivity. But sheep are the exception. Sheep would probably have become an extinct species long ago if not for the work of shepherds. Sheep need a shepherd. 

Many people feel they do not need God. Religion is just a crutch they say. And even people that claim to believe in God keep religion separate from their real lives. God is just someone you think about on Sundays or holidays or when someone dies. And who could argue against the fact that most people seem to get along fine without God in their lives? 

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they are members of either the little flock or those of a different fold—the other sheep. And Jesus is the appointed shepherd; except he has delegated oversight to a small group of men who serve as primary shepherds, who direct tens of thousands of under-shepherds, also known as overseers and elders. Somehow, though, the personal relationship between Jehovah and His individual sheep is lost in the corporative institution. 

Is the 23rd Psalm just a fluffy, feel-good poem? I do not believe it is. 

“Jehovah is my Shepherd. I will lack nothing. In grassy pastures he makes me lie down; He leads me to well-watered resting-places. He refreshes me. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name.”

A shepherd may move his flock several times throughout the day. He may lead them to fresher pastures or higher ground to avoid rain-soaked fields or whatever. In winter he may lead them to a suitable shelter. In any case, the flock is not always at rest. The flock moves to wherever the shepherd leads them. 

In the same way, Jehovah has led his flock by various means. There are literally thousands of experiences that people have had that reveal God’s holy angels were directly involved with their coming into contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses. 

One extraordinary example comes to mind. You will not read about this in the Watchtower. Perhaps he has since given his experience at a convention. I do not know. It was back around 1998-99. We lived in the Pacific Northwest. (Thunderstorms are not common) We had been invited to a congregation get-to-gather and I was chatting with a young man who was a new face. As is customary, I asked him how he came into contact with JWs. He said he was involved with a gang and some unsavory activities. One day a storm blew in and it began to thunder loudly. Apparently, the thundercloud parked overhead and his house was struck repeatedly by lightning bolts. He said the lightning traveled down the wiring in the walls and blew out the drywall and partially collapsed the ceiling. He had never prayed before but he figured it was a good time to start. He told God he would give up his wicked life. The next day two Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on the door of the partially demolished house where he was. He readily accepted their offer for a free Bible study. 

The Watchtower has proven to have been a well-watered place where the weary have found refreshment. But it will soon be time to move on to greener pastures. The reason is, Jehovah has allowed a worthless shepherd to take over. Why would God do that? Because ultimately people are not really dumb sheep. People are made in God’s image. We have affections and unfortunately a tendency to worship the wrong thing. So, God has allowed for a deluding influence. At some point, the sheep will be required to choose whether they wish to be shepherded by a useless shepherd whom they may have become comfortable with, or venture out of the fold to follow the real shepherd. 

According to the 23rd chapter of Jeremiah (Easy to remember in relation to the 23rd Psalm) God is going to relieve the appointed shepherds from overseeing the flock: “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares Jehovah. Therefore this is what Jehovah the God of Israel says against the shepherds who are shepherding my people: “You have scattered my sheep; you kept dispersing them, and you have not turned your attention to them.”

“So I will turn my attention to you because of your evil deeds,” declares Jehovah. “Then I will gather together the remnant of my sheep from all the lands to which I have dispersed them, and I will bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and become many. And I will raise up over them shepherds who will really shepherd them. They will no longer be afraid or be terrified, and none will be missing,” declares Jehovah.”

In case anyone is under the delusion that the prophecy applies to Israel in ancient times this should dispel that notion: “The anger of Jehovah will not turn back until he has carried out and accomplished the intentions of his heart. In the final part of the days you will clearly understand this.” — Jeremiah 23:20

Speaking to his disciples about the horrors coming upon the world that will culminate in a great tribulation—an expression of Jehovah’s anger to be sure—Jesus said: “see that you are not terrified.” In contrast, Jesus said men will become faint with fear and dread. How is it possible for anyone not to be terrified by nuclear war? Jehovah’s poet continues: 

“Though I walk in the valley of deep shadow, I fear no harm, for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me.”

Ultimately, Jehovah is leading his sheep to their permanent “pasture.” 

“Surely goodness and loyal love will pursue me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the house of Jehovah for all my days.”



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