The Shepherd King
“The Lord is my shepherd, I have all I need. He lets me rest in green meadows, he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along the right path, bringing honor to His name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” Psalm 23: 1-4 (NLT)
The man who wrote this well known psalm is of course David, also known as the shepherd king. David spends many long days and nights protecting his sheep in the mountains and plains of Israel. He learns to fight off lions who try to attack the flock. He becomes well skilled with his trusty slingshot and he knows how to think like a sheep so that he can steer them out of precarious situations. This image of David for me is one of peace, quiet, reflective nights under a starry sky. In those times of quiet, David must have prayed and sung to God in the stillness–how else did he become such a skilled psalmist without years of practice? I love that image of him. I picture him with the sheep resting around him, trusting him because he is their protector.
But we know that there is another side to the shepherd king. When David is anointed as king of Israel, the people tell him, “And the Lord told you, ‘you will be the shepherd of my people Israel. You will be Israel’s leader’…..So there at Hebron, King David made a covenant before the Lord with all the elders of Israel.” 2 Samuel 2-3
The shepherd king was now the true and anointed king. The path ahead of him was not one of peace and stillness on the hills of Israel any more though. It was a path of battles and warfare to try to win the promised land that Abraham had set out to enter so many years before. Reading through these pages of the bible can be a challenge. But David had a solid understanding of his relationship with God–both the covenant and the responsibility to establish the kingdom.
Even when we acknowledge and understand our covenant relationship with God, we still face battles in our lives as well. These battles are not the kind that David faces on the fields of war. Our battles are against the “evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Eph 6:12
Our enemy is powerful, cunning and persistent. His lies cause immense suffering for God’s children. Our struggles are very real but they are fought in the unseen realm.
But like David, our enduring covenant with God provides us weapons with which to fight our enemies. We have the strength from God the Father that provides courage to continue the battles day after day. We have the love of Jesus the Son, who died to give us eternal life and whose words constantly remind us that we are not alone in our fights. And we have the power of the Holy Spirit whose voice comes to us when we need uplifting. Our covenant with God is a powerful weapon against evil. Thanks be to Him!