(Photo by Zelda Dominguez)
By Zelda Dominguez
Have you heard the Hebrew word Selah before? It is found at the ending of verses in Psalms. It has been interpreted as an instruction, calling for a break. The Psalms are a collection of songs and poetry. Like in music, an interlude, a rest, or an immediate pause sign can also indicate something more meaningful…it is there for a reason. The word Selah says pause or chew on and savor what was just said. Take that moment to stop, to think about what it says, or to grab your attention.
In March 2020, it was like a big SELAH was written on the pages of our lives. One by one so many parts of our lives were cancelled, closed, or suspended. The world suddenly changed from one day to the next. Although all our circumstances vary, I can genuinely say we are united in our tears, as well as other ways. Let me share what really has brought me comfort as I paused and focused on this.
In Psalm 23, it speaks of many things, one of which is trust. One of the authors of Psalms is King David who was a shepherd in his youth. He knew firsthand what it was to care for and protect his sheep. David gives us a word picture from his own life and experience. He says in the first verse, The Lord is my shepherd. David spoke here not as the shepherd, but as one of the flock. He is acknowledging that he belongs to his shepherd. We need to read this verse the same way.
That would make us sheep, and what do we have in common with sheep? I studied some of the characteristic of this animal, and if I am going to be honest, I could identify with some.
Sheep can be….
- Fearful / Startled
- Restless / Discontent
- Followers / Copy-cats
- Easily Distracted & Swayed
- Vulnerable / Defenseless
Think about it. A sheep wakes up and isn’t worried about what it will eat, or if a predator will strike because it depends on a shepherd who cares for them. The sheep learn to associate the shepherd with their needs being met. When that happens, the shepherd becomes their focus, not their needs. They can be secure in knowing they were in the care of the owner. They lack nothing when they know and trust their shepherd.
We are very much like foolish sheep. It is just a very realistic assessment of who we are and what we need. We are sheep who are completely dependent upon a shepherd… or should be. Our vulnerability is not a liability; God made us for relationship with him. We should humbly admit what is true about us, and elevate God, declaring what is true of Him. Trade in the myth of self-reliance for the truth that God will take care of you no matter what. When you say, “The Lord is my shepherd,” you are saying something that evokes gratitude and security. The rest of the verse says, I shall not want. Jesus Christ says, I am the Good Shepherd. But He also says, the “good shepherd” will lay down his life for the sheep (John 10:11). The shepherd will risk his life to save the sheep and that’s exactly what Jesus did. He willingly gave His life for us.
Shepherds choose and purchase their sheep. Before I received Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was lost, discontent, felt unloved, and wandered without hope. Knowing about Him isn’t the same as knowing Him. I’ve been reminded again during this pause of being in lockdown that I belong to Christ and I am in His care. Do you belong to the Shepherd?