23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
My birthday is coming up so I decided to treat myself with a shepherd's crook. I thought it would look really neat in the family room with my other wooly paraphernalia. The day after it came in I decided to take it down with me and just give it a try with the sheep as I caught them to give them their worm medicine. I had done some reading on how to use one, but had no real intensions of ever making it something that I would really use on a regular basis. But then, I tried it. It worked. It really worked and saved so much wear and tear on my hand which bothers me due to having broke my index finger a couple years ago.
While working the sheep and slipping the crook around their neck I had one of those moments. It was a true epiphany.
Like most people I was familiar with Psalm 23. Sometimes a person can be so familiar with something that they fail to know it intimately. I do believe that was my situation with this beautiful Psalm. I had heard it all my life, but had never really listened to it until the my Shepherd whispered it into my ear that day standing among my sheep.
"Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
As I was catching each of my sheep to give them their dosage of medicine, most of them were just sure I was administering strychnine to kill them, except for Lucy of course. She thought I was handing out candy and wanted everyone's share. She would come up and nibble on the drencher and try to knock the expensive jug of medicine over to get just a little bit more. I didn't have to use the crook to bring her to me. She stood at my feet the whole time, quite like a little pest. That's when it came to me.
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
The shepherd only has to use his crook to draw in the wayward sheep, the sheep that does't trust him completely, or the sheep that is in trouble. The comfort is not in the crook but in knowing that He will use the crook for our good. It's not that it is such a comfortable experience for the sheep to be hooked about the neck and drawn to the shepherd, sometimes kicking and screaming the whole time or jumping up and down like little ram lamb Samuel did when I caught him, but it is for our good. Sheep like Lucy don't require it, but when we decide to act like the others, He will not let us go.
What a comfort that is. I will never read that verse again the same way. I will never pick up my crook and head out to my sheep without being grateful that He will not let me go my way, but loves me enough to try to draw me to Himself.
Once again I'm so thankful for my sheep and what the Shepherd show's me about His love for me through them.