Holding to Truth

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How Shepherding in Psalm 23 will Bring the Lord Back

This week I enjoyed in a fresh way how Christ’s shepherding in Psalm 23 completes God’s economy. Our Lord’s shepherding is not merely for our personal comforting in times of trial or sorrow. Rather, it is the vital link between Christ’s first and second coming. Shepherding will bring the Lord back.

“God’s economy, ” in brief, refers to God’s plan to dispense Himself into man, in order to make man the same as He is in life and nature. God the Father is the fountain of living waters (Jer. 2:13), the source. God the Son is the spring (John 4:14), as the course. And God the Spirit is the river, as the flow (John 7:37-39) dispensing the Triune God into man (2 Cor. 13:14) so that all that God is might be expressed in humanity in a corporate way.

In this post we’ll consider how Christ’s wonderful shepherding in Psalm 23 links Christ’s first and second comings becoming the bridge to bring the Lord back.

Christ accomplished His redeeming death and church-producing resurrection in His first coming—Psalm 22.

Psalm 22 gives us a vivid portrayal of Christ’s redeeming death. Verse one begins with those famous words spoken by Christ on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”—words that point to God’s judging Christ on the cross as the unique sacrifice for all mankind.

Immediately after this detailed prophecy of Christ’s death, the psalmist makes a turn by saying, “I will declare Your name to My brothers; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You.” This passage from Psalm 22:22 is referred to in Hebrews 2:11-12 regarding Christ singing hymns of praise to the Father in the midst of the church.

This declaring of the Father’s name to Christ’s brothers began on the day of Christ’s resurrection. For it was in His resurrection that Christ as the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) regenerated His believers with His resurrection life, making then His many brothers to form the church, God’s house (1 Tim. 3:15; Eph 2:21-22).

So from Psalm 22, we can see that Christ in His first coming came to be our Redeemer and Regenerator.

Christ will establish His kingdom in His second coming—Psalm 24.

Psalm 24, refers to Christ as the King coming to regain the entire earth. This coming is fulfilled in Revelation 10 and 11 when Christ comes to take possession of the earth. In Revelation 11:15 it says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.”

Christ’s shepherding is the bridge linking His two comings—Psalm 23.

My appreciation for Psalm 23 is so much greater now that I see that this short psalm is the key to bringing the Lord back. From the bird’s-eye view of these three psalms, we can see that Psalm 23 is the bridge between Christ’s two comings. Hence, our experience of the pneumatic Christ as our Shepherd ushers us into the experience of Him as our King.

By participating in Christ’s wonderful shepherding today, we will not only be prepared for Christ’s second coming, but will have a part in ushering it in. What a participation and what a commission!

We need to be both “under” and “in” Christ’s shepherding.

Not only do we need to be shepherded by Christ but we also need cooperate with Christ in His shepherding so that He can gain His testimony on this earth, reach the goal of God’s economy, and come back as the King. For this purpose, the Lord appeared to Peter after His resurrection. It was not only to shepherd His backslidden disciple, but to commission him with His ministry of shepherding. Three times the Lord repeated, “Simon…Do you love Me? Feed my lambs…Shepherd my sheep…Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

In Christ’s heavenly ministry He is shepherding people and we need to cooperate with Him by shepherding people. Christ shepherds us so that we can shepherd others.

What do we mean by” shepherding” people?

To shepherd people is mainly to cherish them and to nourish them. The Lord’s redeeming death is a huge cherishing to us. By it we are saved and our sins are forgiven (1 Tim. 1:15). This is Christ’s cherishing us in His humanity. Then He went on in His resurrection to dispense His divine life into us (John 10:10b). This is His nourishing us with His divinity (v. 9).

The Apostle Paul set a pattern of shepherding the believers mainly by cherishing them in the Lord’s tender humanity. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7 he said, “But we were gentle in your midst, as a nursing mother would cherish her own children.” We can also see how he nourished the believers with the divine supply. He said in 1 Corinthians 3:2, “I gave you milk to drink…” This was his nourishing them.

All Christ’s accomplishments in Psalm 22, as the Redeemer and the Regenerator, must now be applied to people through Christ’s shepherding in Psalm 23. We must cooperate with Christ to shepherd people into the experiences of Christ’s redeeming death and life-dispensing resurrection. We do this by cherishing people in His humanity and nourishing them with His divinity.

By our entering into such a wonderful shepherding, Christ’s Body will be built up and His bride will be prepared so that He can return.

First, we must be those personally experiencing the five stages of Christ’s progressive shepherding.

In a previous post, “A Fresh Appreciation for Psalm 23…,” I mentioned the five stages of the organic shepherding of the pneumatic Christ. It is wonderful that we can personally experience the pneumatic Christ as our indwelling Shepherd taking care of our inner being.

First, He inwardly shepherds us into the enjoyment of Himself as our green pastures and waters of rest (Psalm 23:2). He leads us to eat of Him as our bread of life (John 6:35) and calls us to come to Him to drink (John 7:37-39).

Second, He shepherds us into the revival and transformation on the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3). Not only does He feed us and quench our thirst, but He renews us and transforms us (Rom. 12:2) so that we can walk according to the spirit, to fulfill the requirements of His righteousness (8:4).

Third, He shepherds us into the experience of His intimate, indwelling presence while walking thru the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4).

Fourth, He shepherds us into the deeper and higher enjoyment of Himself as our feast in fighting against the adversaries (Psalm 23:5). From experiencing the pneumatic Christ with us in the valley of the shadow of death, we’re brought by Him onto the battlefield to join Him in the spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-18).

Fifth, He shepherds us into the lifelong enjoyment of His divine goodness and lovingkindness in the house of Jehovah (Psalm 23:6). The reward to the overcomers in the church in Philadelphia was to be made a pillar in the temple of God, and to by no means go out anymore, and to have God’s name and the name of God’s city, the New Jerusalem written on them (Rev. 3:12).

To be shepherded into the enjoyment of God’s house is not merely to go to a place—heaven. It is to become, by Christ’s organic shepherding, the built up house of God (Eph. 2:21-22), and the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:16) consummating in the New Jerusalem as Christ’s bride (Rev. 21:2, 9).

Then we need to cooperate with Christ to progressively shepherd others.

Our shepherding of people should not merely be to make them happy and spiritually satisfied. Rather, our shepherding of the Lord’s sheep should be our cooperation with Christ in His heavenly ministry to bring others progressively through these five stages of Christ shepherding as we are being shepherded. (we may only be one step ahead.) It is such a shepherding that will build up Christ’s Body and prepare His bride, for His second coming to be the king in the next age.

In order to have this deeper appreciation for this precious gem of divine truth in Psalm 23, we must view it according to the context of God’s economy in Psalm 22 through 24.

Our being shepherded is that we may shepherd others.

In the principle of being shepherded by Christ in order to shepherd others, our spiritual drinking of Christ as the living water is so that we can flow Him out to others. John 7:37-39, “Whoever drinks of the water…out of his being shall flow rivers of living water.”

Without the flowing out of the living water, our drinking will be in vain. Our drinking is nullified by our lack of flowing out. On one hand, we need to love and care for the Lord, immerse ourselves in His Word, pray and exercise our spirit to be fed spiritually. On the other hand, if we do not practice to take care of others, our hunger and appetite for the Lord will diminish because He needs our cooperation in His heavenly ministry of shepherding people.

May all the Lord’s lovers (John 21:15-17) be encouraged to participate in Christ’s wonderful shepherding in Psalm 23 so that He can come back.

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!

3 Replies

  1. Amen, brother, I love this summary of this particular subject. I really enjoyed every day in the morning revival in Psalm 23 – the Lord is our Shepherd so that we may cooperate with Him and shepherd others with the shepherding He affords us. And this we do in the house of God – Psalm 23 starts with the Lord being our Shepherd personally and it ends with us enjoying a feast in the house of Jehovah!

    Amen, Lord, may all Your loving seekers be encouraged not just to enjoy Your shepherding but also to participate in Your shepherding! We want to cooperate with Christ’s heavenly ministry – by shepherding others – so that You may return!

  2. Stefan,

    Thank you for your encouraging comment. As we review the vision again and again, blogging our enjoyment of Christ, we are being ushered into the reality of this shepherding life to usher in the Lord’s second coming.

    Another encouraging word for Godman bloggers–“If we have an affectionate love for the Lord Jesus, our tongue with be the pen of a ready writer, ready to write our love for Him and our praise to Him with our experience and enjoyment of Him according to all that He is.” (Psalms, Message 7, IV.)

    Much grace,


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