Phillip Keller gives an illustration in his book where he tells a story of his neighbor who was a terrible shepherd. His creatures under the ownership of this heartless rancher were poor, abused, and neglected. They were sickly with disease, scabs, and parasites. They were so weak and thin they could barely stand. They would stay at the fence with their gnawing hunger and long to be on the other side. They wanted to be where there were green pastures, where the sheep were healthy, content, and productive. They would roam the fence for an opening and when they would occasionally find a way to get to the greener side, they would enter and feast on the luxurious foliage. However, since they are not use to this rich indulgence they would often become severely sick. One day, Phillip found three sick, helpless, cast down sheep that had wondered over from the other side. Since these sheep did not belong to him, he put them in a wheelbarrow and took them to his neighbor. The heartless neighbor didn’t want to be bothered with caring for the sheep he could care less about, so he took out a killing knife and slit their throats.
This is a sad story but what I find even sadder is that the sheep on the side of the Good Shepherd would also stand on the fence line wanting to find a way to the barren, disease ridden side ran by a heartless shepherd. Too many Christians want to go back and forth between the pastures of sin and Godliness. They would love to live with a revolving door.
When we as Christians hold on to things of our old self, wanting the passing pleasures of sin, we are making a statement that our Good Shepherd does not provide the best of everything for us. We are declaring that there are some greater things on the side of sin. They are willing to take the risk of what the heartless, evil, owner of the land of sin will do to them.
David is declaring that this is not the case with him. He has no desire to be in any other pasture than that of the Good Shepherd. He is not going to look for a way to visit any other pastures. He doesn’t want to be out of the control or out of the presence of his Good Shepherd.
What about you? What is on the other side of the fence that draws you? What sin pasture do you want to feed in? When you have the best that can be offered, why do you want anything else?
It all comes down to this; live ever aware of God’s presence and let His presence direct you, care for you, and comfort you! Whose pasture are you going to live in? Who are you going to let shepherd you?
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters for His namesake. He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!
Information taken from the book “A shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by Phillip Keller