"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:" Psalm 23:5a
When David wrote in this Psalm that “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies:”, as a shepherd himself, he knew what that entailed. Shepherds would go ahead of their sheep during the springtime and prepare the pasture in the high mountain country of the summer ranges which were called the alpands or tablelands. They would make sure that there were no poisonous plants, it was free from pestilence and that there was good water to drink which was free of debris. Once they were there he would not leave the sheep as they needed protection from any predators that would come.
As the shepherd would come across any harmful or poisonous plants, he would pull them out, preventing the sheep from getting a hold of any to eat when they arrived. They would also prepare the pasture to prevent pestilence from being around. We in our foolishness, will “eat” things that can destroy us. In other words, “eating” is what we put in our minds. It could be what we read, watch on the media including the internet. It could even be what we listen to including what others may say about someone else that is not edifying. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
The Great Shepherd goes before us, praying for us. Scripture reminds us in Romans 8:34, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” That humbles my heart knowing that my Savior, the Great Shepherd, is praying for me!
The next thing a shepherd does in preparation for his sheep, is to clear out waterholes, springs and drinking places of any debris. He wants to make sure the water is safe for his sheep to drink. Our Great Shepherd has gone before us also, and knows every situation we may experience and has made a way of escape so that we can experience the mountain top experience with Him. He sent the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and shows us how we can escape the temptation of sin.
Finally, the shepherd will keep an eye out for predators while the sheep are out in the open and are easy prey. The sheep that stay close to the shepherd are more protected and not easily taken as those that are further away. Jesus, our Great Shepherd, wants to protect us also, as Satan seeks to devour us. We need to stay close to Him by reading God’s Word daily, talking to Him in prayer, and allow Him to converse with us through the Holy Spirit.
In this painting, I painted Jesus sitting there watching over “us”, His sheep. He prepared the “tableland” by coming to die for our sins and rising on the third day. That is why I have the hill of Golgotha and the empty tomb in the background. The sheep in the painting are all content and resting as they know their Great Shepherd is there taking care of them, as He had prepared the way for them. Are you contented and at rest? Remember, He paid the price so you can find rest in Him. The one sheep that is at His feet, represents those of us, who desire to be in His Word daily, talking to Him in prayer and allowing the Holy Spirit to converse with us. I am so thankful for the Preparation of the Shepherd. Where are you resting in the pasture of life? Are you close to the Great Shepherd, or are you wandering around to see what the world has to offer?
In this special blog series, I painted Psalm 23 verse by verse, personalizing the verses from a sheep's devotion to their Great Shepherd. Each picture is painted on a roof slate with acrylic paint. There are a total of 12 blogs when completed.