The Good Shepherd – Part 1

“Your hands made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments. May those who fear You see me and be glad because I wait for Your word. I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, according to Your word to Your servant. May Your compassion come to me that I may live, for Your law is my delight. May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie; but I shall meditate on Your precepts. May those who fear You turn to me, even those who know Your testimonies. May my heart be blameless in Your statutes, so that I will not be ashamed.” – Psalms‬ ‭119:73-80‬ ‭NASB‬‬

As we work through this message series, I want to do two things. First, I want to define a few terms for us. We’re going to see each of these words throughout the message, and my hope is that when we read them, we will think of their meanings. 

The terms—and there are four of them—are: fashioned, learn, comfort, and blameless.

Second, I want to paint a verbal picture of God as the Good Shepherd. And not the stereotypical Sunday School picture either. I want to go deeper—paint with more vivid colors. And at the end of this series, I believe we’ll step back to look on a clearer, more fleshed-out image of our King.

This will serve to help us understand both David’s words in verses 73-80 as well as how God deals with each of us on a daily basis. It can also provide a fuller understanding of last week’s message series on affliction. 

Terms

Our first term is the word fashionedkwn (pronounced ka-faf-noon) – to prepare, make ready; set up; to establish

In Psalm 119, the context indicates that David was speaking of being established as king over Israel. While David also said, “Your hands made me” (which is most likely recognition of God as Creator), we know that David was never shy about proclaiming who had created him. In Psalm 139:13, he penned the well-known line, “you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” 

Seeing God as our Creator is right and good, but we must also know that He is the One who establishes us in our lives.

Seeing God as our Creator is right and good, but we must also know that He is the One who establishes us in our lives. Click To Tweet

The second term is the word learnlmd (pronounced la-mād) – teach; be instructed in, to chastise

There’s no getting around it, “chastise” has a negative connotation. But this doesn’t have to be the case. To be chastened is simply to “be restrained” or “to have a moderating effect placed upon one’s life.” According to God’s word, since we’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we need this kind of restraint. We are in need of being chastised daily. In the Old Covenant, people would establish guardrails, while in the New, we learn that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us—Jesus is our chastity. 

We are sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. We were born into sin. Although we didn’t inherit Adam’s guilt (because we didn’t need it, we have enough of our own), we did inherit Adam’s nature. Redemptive history is the story of King Jesus redeeming us from Adam’s nature and replacing it with His own. But guess what? This transformation of nature comes through the process of discipline.

I mean, doesn’t most transformation come through discipline? As a dad, this is a daily reality for me. Our Father not only teaches us how to train up our children but as our Good Shepherd, He also talks the talk and walks the walk. 

The transformation of our nature comes through the process of discipline. Doesn’t most transformation come through discipline? Click To Tweet

The same God who tells us to train up our children in the way they should go is training us in that very same way. The same God who tells us not to spare the “rod of discipline” does not himself spare the rod of discipline. The same God who points out that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child reveals that as children ourselves, foolishness is bound up in our hearts too. And the same God who shows us how discipline (in our present case, chastisement) drives out foolishness from a child, is also driving that same foolishness from us.

So, to be fashioned means to be established, and to teach means to be chastised.

Our third term is the word comfort – nḥm (pronounced née-ham) – to console; extend compassion; sigh with one who is grieving

That last part—to sigh with one who is grieving—is, by far, my favorite definition of this word. Some have even translated this as “breathing intensely” because of deep emotion. With this image in your mind, it is easy to understand that née-ham is no casual display of sympathy. Instead, it is what I would call true Biblical sympathy. 

In the book of Hebrews, we’re introduced to the only word in the New Testament for our concept of sympathy (we see it two times, Hebrews 4:15 & 10:34). The word is “sympatheo,” and according to its lexical definition and usage, it means to share the same suffering or emotion; to feel for; having compassion or pity. Doubtless, this is why David said in Psalm 119:77, “May Your compassion come to me that I may live…” Life is near impossible to live if you feel alone, but each of us is rejuvenated when we understand that someone is sharing the emotions of this life with us! We should think about this idea far deeper than we have time for today because we can and should do this for each other to some extent.

Life is near impossible to live if you feel alone, but each of us is rejuvenated when we understand that someone is sharing the emotions of this life with us! Click To Tweet

God’s sympatheo, sighs with our grief because He shares in our suffering and/or our emotion.

David used née-ham many times, and one of my favorites is found in the 23rd Psalm.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Even in the use of His “rod and staff,” God has always been sharing our suffering and emotion. Our Shepherd walks beside us, throws us over his shoulder when we’re too weak, and never for a moment does he stop sighing with us through those death-filled valleys.

Our Shepherd walks beside us, throws us over his shoulder when we’re too weak, and never for a moment does he stop sighing with us through those death-filled valleys. Click To Tweet

Again, to be fashioned means to be established, to teach means to be chastised, and comfort means to sigh with one who is grieving.

Our final term is the word blameless – tā·mîm – unscathed, intact; without fault, free of blemish; impeccable; honest, devout; integrity; complete

This term speaks more to the idea of maturity than it does to sinlessness. After all, “completeness” is the result of all that God is doing through our sanctification. We are God’s image-bearers, and just as He is blameless, we too are to be blameless. 

This is true in a declarative sense as well as in a behavioral sense. God has declared us to be righteous, loved, and blameless because of the work of King Jesus. But He still expects us—and is training us—to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and blameless (complete) every day.

So, one last time, to be fashioned means to be established, to teach means to be chastised, comfort means to sigh with one who is grieving, and blameless means to be complete.

Let’s Talk

In the next post, we will begin to paint our picture of our Good Shepherd. Until then, how have you seen the reality of these terms play out in your own life? Have you felt God sigh with you through trial or tribulation? Comment below or email me at nathan@nathanfranckhauser.com.

1 thought on “The Good Shepherd – Part 1”

  1. Pingback: The Good Shepherd - Part 2 | Rebuilding

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