|Volume 17 Number 4 April 2015||
Leviticus 1:2-3 reads, “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy; for I Jehovah your God am holy. Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father; and ye shall keep my sabbaths: for I am Jehovah your God.” This command to Moses tells us a great deal. Leviticus is the record of many requirements that God gave to Israel for them to be holy. Right after His initial command to be holy, God told each Israelite to fear his or her mother and father. The fear is a reverential submission. There is a special relationship that parents have with their own children.
God gives responsibilities to parents. It is their role to make sure their children reverence God. For children to understand a reverence for God they need to understand first a reverence for their parents.
Notice that in our verses above the term “man” is used, not “child.” Moses was not instructed to only tell young children to fear their parents. He was instructed to tell “every man.” Every adult listening to Moses was to understand the requirement to reverence parents. It is a lifetime submission. This does not mean that the parents can command an adult child what to do. The stages of life change the parent-child relationship in the way the parent and child interact. However, change does not do away with the fact that there is a submission and honoring.
There is much more that could be said on this topic. Keep studying your Bible to learn more about this. For now, learn that part of being holy is reverencing parents. If any of this is hard to understand, ask an adult to help you.
The Lord Is My Shepherd
Fred C. Nowell, Jr.
The 23rd Psalm is perhaps the most treasured, well known and most recited Psalm of all. Millions have committed it to memory. It is a Psalm that calms, a Psalm that strengthens the soul of the downtrodden, and a Psalm that refreshes and revives the heart when things seem to be out of control.
We need to have a better understanding of the care, strength, comfort, and provisions our God and Shepherd offers to all. It’s likely that most of you are aware of all the wonderful things God provides, but I want us as individual Christians to take our understanding to another level. Let’s come out of our comfort zones and commit to bring others to our Great Shepherd. As we consider this great Psalm, let us do so with an appreciation for being His lambs with a stronger desire to bring more into the fold.
My Shepherd Continually Cares for Me
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”
The Lord is my shepherd, which means that it’s a very personal relationship. Jesus said in John 10:14-15; 27-28, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep…My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Jesus said that He is the “good” shepherd in contrast with the hireling or a “bad” shepherd who has no relationship or strong bond with the flock! Our Shepherd provides all of our needs so that there is no want. We can cast all our cares upon him, knowing that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Paul told the Philippian Christians, “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
“I shall not want,” that is, my needs will be met! When one of God’s sheep strays from the fold and is lost, there ought to be a great desire and effort put forth to retrieve it! In Luke 15:3-7 we find a wonderful parable to be our guide. Jesus asked:
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Our care for others ought to be the same as the care our shepherd has for us.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside the still water.”
My shepherd’s care goes beyond simply providing. His provisions are the best! Can you see the benefits of lying down in pastures of green? The comfort and luxury! Green pastures provide food, warmth, safety and nearby pure, still water! We’ve all heard the saying that usually goes with a terrible choice, “The grass is always greener.” Being sheep of the Great Shepherd, the grass is always greener! Paul told the Ephesians that “all spiritual blessings are in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). The Psalmist understood the care and comfort of having the Lord as his Shepherd. Today, all who come to the Lord, the good and great Shepherd, freely drink from the living water He provides (John 4:10-14).
“He restores my soul: he leads me in the
paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
We live in a world where “soul restoration” is so badly needed! I have always loved the art of restoration where something worn or old is brought back to like new condition. Our Shepherd takes a soul tarnished by sin and restores it like new. When one reaches the time when he or she is accountable for personal sins, there is a need for the precious blood of Jesus to purify the soul (1 Peter 1:18-22). Shepherds lead, they do not drive or push! My Shepherd leads His sheep down the pathway of righteousness. This path is lit by the Word of God (Psalm 199:105) and will lead one to an eternal home where the righteous will dwell (2 Peter 3:13).
My Shepherd Continually Strengthens Me
“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.”
Death for many is a very real fear and something that is dreaded. Seeing that it is appointed for every living human being (Hebrews 9:27), fear ought to be replaced with preparation. As death draws nearer and nearer to us all, we can take great comfort in knowing that our Shepherd is with us and comforts us. Comfort comes with the knowledge that the sting of death has been removed by Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:55ff.), and all who are in Him (baptized into Christ, Galatians 3:25-26) have no need to fear evil, but they ought to anticipate the joy of resting in the arms of our Good Shepherd Jesus the Christ!
The rod and staff here are not symbols of correction, but of ownership and protection. A shepherd’s rod is also an instrument used for counting sheep, acknowledging each as it was counted, going or “passing under the rod” (Ezekiel 20:37-38). The staff was used also to protect the sheep against harm.
“Thou prepare a table before me in the
presence of mine enemies: thou anoint
my head with oil; my cup runs over.”
Those in opposition (enemies) recognize the provisions of God. The anointing of oil may be a recognition of a deep love (Matthew 26:7) or the mending of wounds. The strength gained by our caring Shepherd is often overwhelming. Our cup runs over!
My Shepherd Provides an Eternal Dwelling Place
“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.”
The goodness and mercy that follows is of God—not man. When we experience pain and suffering, it ought to cause us to long for Heaven. One wisely stated that “A lifetime of following the Good Shepherd will bring an eternity of blessings.” Jesus (the Good Shepherd) is preparing an eternal home for those that faithfully follow Him. Before returning to the Father, Jesus said to His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
My Shepherd has room for as many as willingly come and follow Him. He invites all to come (Matthew 11:28), but He knows that only a few will follow Him (Matthew 7:14). When you consider such a wonderful Psalm, is it with the conviction, confidence, comfort, commitment and comprehension of David?
“When we walk with the Lord,
in the light of his word,
what a glory he sheds on our way”