Thoughts on “The Lord is My Shepherd”
By John Newton
He must intimately know every individual of the flock. His eye must be upon them every one, and His ear open to their prayers, and His arm stretched out for their relief, in all places and in all ages. Every thought of every heart must be open to His view, and His wisdom must penetrate, and His arm control and overrule all the hidden and complicated machinations of the powers of darkness. He must have the administration of universal Providence over all the nations, families, and persons upon the earth, or He could not effectually manage for those who put their trust in Him in that immense variety of cases and circumstances in which they are found. Reason, as well as Scripture, may convince us that He who gathereth the outcasts of Israel, who healeth the broken in heart, who upholdeth all that fall, raiseth up all that are bowed down, and upon whom the eyes of all wait for their support, can be no other than He who telleth the number of stars and calleth them by all their names, who is great in power and whose understanding is infinite. To this purpose likewise the prophet Isaiah describes this mighty Shepherd (40:9-17) both as to His person and office.
Such a one is our Shepherd. This is He of whom we, through grace, are enabled to say, “We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” We are His by every tie and right; He made us, He redeemed us, He reclaimed us from the hand of our enemies, and we are His by our own voluntary surrender of ourselves; for though we once slighted, despised, and opposed Him, He made us willing in the day of His power: He knocked at the door of our hearts; but we (at least I) barred and fastened it against Him as much and as long as possible. But when He revealed His love, we could stand out no longer. Like sheep, we are weak, destitute, defenseless, prone to wander, unable to return, and always surrounded with wolves. But all is made up in the fullness, ability, wisdom, compassion, care and faithfulness of our great Shepherd. He guides, protects, feeds, heals, and restores, and will be our Guide and our God even until death. Then He will meet us, receive us, and present us unto Himself, and we shall be near Him, and like Him, and with Him forever.
Dear friend, if both your circumstances and your spirit sink, all will be well if you lean on God alone. Never fear that you will become weary to Him, and never ask as little as possible. He says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Ps. 81:10). Never trust Him just a little. Never give Him only a part of your cares. Never rest just a portion of your trials on Him. Lean on Him with all your weight. Bring all the tons, pounds, and ounces and throw them all on God. Do no carry an extra ounce yourself. God loves His children to place their entire confidence in Him.
The utter uniqueness of the Christian message — the heart of the gospel — is found in the three words of Christ from the cross, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). The message of every other religious system, without exception, is predicated on some variation of another three words, which stand starkly opposed to the gospel’s three words. Religion’s three words are: ‘Get to work.’ And this is the heart of the bad news behind every approach to spirituality, enlightenment, or salvation that is not Christian.
Jared C. Wilson, from Gospel Wakefulness