The Result of Having Christ as our Shepherd

"I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever" (Psalm 23:6).

"Come, come, David," we may almost hear some of our friends say, "is it not very presumptuous on your part to speak with such certainty about the future? Would it not be evidence of a more lowly state of mind if you said, 'Well, I hope, in spite of all my shortcomings, that the Lord will be merciful to me at the last and give me a place just inside His door forever.'

But whatever may be thought of the statement, there it stands, without qualification and without recall. And there it must stand, for the words were not the expression of a pious opinion but were inspired in David's heart and mouth by the Holy Spirit. And if we consider them in their setting we shall see that to change them would be to spoil the beauty of this best loved portion of Old Testament Scripture. "The Lord is my Shepherd" is the opening sentence of the Psalm; and that opening admits of no other conclusion but this: "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." It must be so, for can the Lord who is my Shepherd leave His sheep to perish on the way? Must He not for the love He bears them, and for the honour of His Name, and the integrity of His Word, lead them safely, even through the valley of the shadow of death, to this glorious goal? He must, or we can trust His work no more. Yes, if the Lord is my Shepherd, I will for a certainty dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. These are twin statements. A Psalm beginning with the one would be incomplete if it did not close with the other, and every soul that can truly use the first may use the last with the same glorious certainty as David did.

A shepherd is a keeper of sheep, not a loser of them. And if we may say "The Lord is my Shepherd, my Keeper," He is also the good Shepherd, and we may draw from that word every meaning which it is capable of yielding, yet not exhaust all that can be said of Him. He is no hireling who flees when the wolf comes, but the Good Shepherd who stakes His all, yea, gives His life, in the defence of and for the salvation of His sheep. So good is He; so loved are they! He is good in the sense of being capable also. If He were constantly losing His sheep, He would not be a good keeper of sheep. He could not in this case be said to be a keeper of sheep at all, but a loser of them, and then where would His glory be?

He has declared His intention to hold securely and for ever every sheep of His. He has said, "They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." Can His intention fail? Nay; His word cannot be broken, for He is the eternal God. He has met the foes that threatened the sheep, He has broken their power for ever.

He Satan's power laid low;
Made sin, sin's reign o'erthrew;
Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so,
And death by dying slew.

And it is the hand that conquered these mighty powers, the hand of omnipotence, that holds the sheep secure forever.

But further, He said: "My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." This is the hand of everlasting love. Then He added, "I and My Father are one." Almighty power and everlasting love are one, and they must be divorced before a sheep of Christ's can perish. The Father and the Son are one, and that eternal unity must be dissolved before the feeblest lamb of Christ's flock can be lost. How secure in this double grip are all those who can say, "The Lord is my Shepherd!" They may add with glad certainty, as David did, the assured result of this blessed fact: "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."