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Psalm 23 denotes the relationship, activities, and trek of the sheepherder and his flock for an entire year. It begins on the home ranch where the shepherd leads them into green pastures beside still waters, travelling through the valleys between mountain peaks, consummating the travel upward to the tablelands where they dwell in the summer months. All the while, the shepherd is meticulous and intentional in his intimate care and concern for the sheep.
This new season brings with it another enemy that could prove as deadly as the wild beats that often lay in wait during their journey. The heat and humidity were a breeding ground for hordes of insects; parasites that could make the sheep’s life miserable. The nose fly was a particular nemesis. Its job was to infiltrate the nostrils, laying its eggs and larvae in the nasal canal, causing extreme irritation. In desperate attempts for respite, the animals would often beat their heads against trees, rocks, etc., for relief.
The shepherd must remain vigilant. Attention to the sheep’s behavior and taking corrective action early on is the only remedy for sheep who have become aggravated, restless, and irritable. One such elixir is a mixture of oil sulfur and tar. The gentle shepherd applies this “oil” to the heads of the affected flock and immediately, a change in behavior occurs.
There are so many daily opportunities for things or people to “bug” us and compounded enough to cause frustration. Life’s challenges show us the need for a daily anointing of the Spirit of God in our minds. Only His Spirit can counteract these ever present conflicts. This is the real “One A Day” vitamin that produces the fruit in us; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:23-24 ESV)
Jesus took on the full cup of suffering, sin, guilt, and death for us. Then He left the Comforter, The Holy Spirit, as our guide. He is always right there with us, in proximity, ready and willing to ease troubled minds. We received peace, but not just any peace. He gave us His peace.! Selah. It is when we realize what we have and WHO we have that our cups overflow!
Keller, W. Phillip. A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1970. 2007.