As our Good Shepherd, the Lord fills many roles. Yesterday, we saw Him as a pardoning shepherd. He is also a providing shepherd-He knows our necessities before we even ask for help, and He delights in meeting those needs (Matt. 7:9-11). In practical terms, that means He knows what we need physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And He is already at work, achieving and providing things that we may not even have thought of as yet.
Not only does God provide for us; He's also a protecting shepherd, who defends us from attack. In verse 4 of Psalm 23, notice what comforts the writer-the Lord's rod and staff. Ancient shepherds used these two implements to defend their sheep from vicious animals seeking a quick meal. God goes ahead of us, clearing our path of the Enemy's snares.
It is important to note, though, what Psalm 23 does not say. As much as we might want to avoid hard times, this passage doesn't tell us that God will lead us around the "valley of the shadow of death." Rather, He leads us through it (v. 4). This means that God's plan often requires us to walk through painful circumstances, facing those shadows and dark places in our lives. However, in the midst of the rough journey, we can remain confident by keeping our eyes on the Shepherd, who leads us safely home.
Have you experienced the Lord's provision, only to fall into subsequent doubt and fear because of loss or hardship? He has not left you. God remains your Good Shepherd, leading you through the darkness and into the light, where He is.