Page 6 - May 2021 - Truth & Tidings
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cover the range of doctrine, shepherds   lurking predators, and that promotes the
        must deliver something to touch hearts,   idea that our lives can enter unexpected
        providing a lift for those experiencing the   phases, bright sunlight giving way to the
        searing heat of persecution or perplexity.   chill of the narrow valley. At this alarming
        Aspire to Philemon’s commendation: “The   thought, he addresses the Shepherd in
        hearts of the saints have been refreshed   prayer – “thou art with me,” etc. He had
        through thee, brother” (Philemon 7 RV).  confidence that in facing even the final
          Restoration                         trial, he would fear no evil – “the valley of
          Mention of a restored soul in verse 3   the shadow of death” would hold no ter-
        implies lost ground. David had proved   rors. Perhaps this is not a reference to our
        that his Shepherd could return him to   literally dying, but to any alarming valley
        his former condition, and thereafter lead   experience we may encounter. Facing such
        him in “the paths of righteousness.”   situations, anxiety is dispelled by the as-
        Cutting back on prayer time, curtailing   surance, “Thou art with me.” Comfort is
        Scripture reading and curbing assembly   derived from glancing at the heavy club
        responsibilities could all be symptoms of   that provides protection, or the staff that
        the spiritual malaise that Scripture calls   prevents us from roving into danger. His
        backsliding in heart (Pro 14:14). Preach-  promised presence for every circumstance
        ers discourage us from “looking within,”   is an antidote to discouragement and ap-
        but it is not altogether inappropriate to   prehension.
        self-assess. “Consider your ways” (Hag   “Thou art with me.” Assembly members
        1:5,7); if the appraisal reveals slippage,   should be able to say that to their shep-
        be assured that the Shepherd, who is our   herds, for in life’s valleys, the hands-on
        “advocate with the Father” (1Jn 2:1), can   involvement of elders is vital. They are
        effect restoration, and then lead us on. In   described as “them which labor among
        seeking guidance, be sure that He will   you” (1Th 5:12). When speaking of in-
        never lead you to do anything contrary   teraction between elders and flock, Peter
        to the precepts or principles of Scripture.   twice uses the words “among you” (1Pe
        He leads in paths of righteousness alone,   5:1-2); they must be among their people.
        without any deviation that is unholy, un-  It is difficult to be an itinerant preacher, a
        ethical or unbiblical.                never-at-home businessman, or a snow-
          Leaders must give a lead, and the ar-  bird and still function as a local shepherd.
        rangements that they make, their advice   The flock needs you.
        and their example, must all be perceived   Foes Deterred
        to be “paths of righteousness,” one hun-  The Shepherd spreads a table in the
        dred percent Bible based. They should   presence of enemies. In Scripture, wolves,
        also be aware of signs of decline, and act   lions and bears all endanger the sheep,
        swiftly.                              and yet the vigilant Shepherd provides
        The Protection of the Sheep           nourishment in such a hostile environ-
          Fear Dispelled                      ment. It is not just that God furnishes a
          In verses 4-5, the psalmist transitions   table in the wilderness (Psa 78:19), provid-
        to consider his Shepherd’s protection. He   ing sustenance in inhospitable terrain, but
        had experience of leading sheep from pas-  even when that environment is crowded
        ture to pasture through dark ravines with   with intimidating predators, the Shepherd

        134 TRUTH kTidings   May  2021
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