Holding to Truth

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How Psalm 23 Reveals the Organic Shepherding of the Pneumatic Christ

The shepherding of Christ in Psalm 23   One of the most familiar and favorite Biblical passages of Bible readers is Psalm 23. This psalm has often been quoted during times of trial and grief providing consolation to many a troubled soul. Yet, today my appreciation for this psalm is not for the unspeakable personal comfort it affords, but for its application to us as New Testament believers in the carrying out God’s eternal plan in the New Testament age. The striking title to this post  points to the fact that the shepherding of Christ today is not mainly related to God’s outward presence or some external comfort but something “organic”—that is, in the sphere and element of His divine life within us and “pneumatic”—something related to the resurrected, “pneumatic Christ,” as the life-giving Spirit, within a believer’s spirit (Rom. 8:10; 2 Tim. 4:22). Today, our Christ is “pneumatic” and His shepherding of us is “organic.” In this post we’ll consider from Psalm 23 Christ’s organic shepherding in five stages and how it becomes the vital link between Christ’s first coming and His second coming.

Christ’s Organic Shepherding of Us in Five Stages

The initial stage – the enjoyment of Christ as the green pastures and of the Spirit as the waters of rest—v. 2

In the New Testament, it is so good to realize that our Shepherd Himself is our pasture; He Himself is the food that we eat. The Lord Jesus told the hungry people that He was the bread of life (John 6:35). He is also our waters of rest. In John 7:37, He called all the thirsty ones to come to Him and drink. He can be such a drink to us today, because after His death and resurrection, He became the life-giving Spirit for us to receive by calling on His dear name—“Lord Jesus!” (John 7:39; 1 Cor. 15:45; 1 Cor. 12:13, 3). I can  testify that the more I drink the Lord Jesus by calling on His name, the more my inner being is at rest. I am so happy that the pneumatic Christ as my Shepherd brought me to enjoy Him as the green pastures and to drink of Him as the waters of rest.

The second stage – the revival and transformation on the paths of righteousness—v. 3

For the pneumatic Christ to “restore our soul” means that He revives us, including His renewing (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 4:16) and transforming us (2 Cor. 3:18). I can also testify with much appreciation for how the Lord has continually rendered such tender care for the needs of my inner being, renewing me little by little, day by day. Also I enjoyed that in the New Testament sense, Christ’s guiding us on the paths of righteousness implies His guiding us to walk according to the spirit in order to fulfill the requirements of His righteousness (Rom 8:4). I am so thankful that under the pneumatic Christ’s organic shepherding, my soul is being restored, renewed, and transformed so that I can take His way and walk on His paths of righteousness.

The third stage – the experience of the resurrected pneumatic Christ while walking through the valley of the shadow of death—v. 4

I enjoyed that “the presence of the pneumatic Christ is a comfort, a rescue, and a sustaining power to us when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. When we are in the valley, we should simply remain there and rest in the Lord. Our resting in the Lord will shorten the valley, reduce the shadow and remove the death.”

The fourth stage – the deeper and higher enjoyment of the resurrected Christ in fighting against the adversaries—v. 5

In my limited experience of the spiritual warfare, I can appreciate that our fighting is not by our own strength but by the bountiful supply of the Triune God—with the Son as the table, the feast (John 6:57), the Spirit as the anointing oil (Luke 4:18), and the Father as the source of blessing, the cup (of blessing) that runs over (Eph. 1:3).

The fifth stage – the lifelong enjoyment of the divine goodness and lovingkindness in the house of God—v. 6

Psalm 23 concludes in verse 6 with, “surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me / All the days of my life, / And I will dwell in the house of Jehovah / For the length of my days.” It is by such an enjoyment of the processed Triune God that we are ushered into the enjoyment of God in the house of God, that is, in Christ, in the church and in the New Jerusalem. May we all make this our heartfelt prayer and seeking as the Psalmist in Psalm 27:4, to dwell in the house of God all the days of our life, to behold the beauty of God, and to inquire of God, that is to check with Him about everything in our daily life.

How Psalm 23 forms the link between Christ’s two comings 

In conclusion, I am freshly impressed that Psalm 23 follows Psalm 22, a strongly prophetic psalm on Christ’s redeeming death and church-producing resurrection, and issues in Psalm 24, a psalm on Christ as the King regaining the entire earth through the church. Such a context, indicates in a New Testament sense, that Christ’s shepherding us links Christ’s death and resurrection in His first coming with His kingly reign over this earth in His second coming. Through Christ’s wonderful shepherding, and our cooperation with His shepherding, Christ will build up His Body with His redeemed and regenerated ones and prepare His bride for Him to return in His second coming as the King to reign in the manifestation of the kingdom in the next age. I can say for a fact that I never had such a high appreciation for the significance of Christ’s shepherding in Psalm 23. Praise Him! If you are interested in reading some ministry material that expresses this fresh view of Psalm 23, you may enjoy reading chapter eleven of the Life-study of Psalms and chapter five of Christ and the Church Revealed and Typified in the Psalms both by Witness Lee. You can find them on ministrybooks.org under “Life-study of the Bible” and “Additional Titles by Witness Lee,” respectively. You may also enjoy reading about these five stages of Christ’s shepherding in Psalm 23 at: agodman.com.

About Tom Smith

Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!

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