Summary: A Message on Psalm 23
In "The Way of the Shepherd", author Don Baker says, If a shepherd sees the "sheep suddenly begin to spread out and move away from each other, he can be reasonably sure that something, possibly a rattler, is in the center of the circle."
And so it is in human relationships, when we begin to spread out and separate ourselves from each other, there is a serpent in the midst.
A few years ago, I worked at a small but very profitable company. All was going well, when suddenly, the serpent appeared. One of the owners developed a prideful, arrogant attitude and started thinking he was working harder than the other. He believed he was bringing more money into the organization than his partner (which was not true). His arrogance and accusatory stance offended his business partner, causing him to request a dissolvement of the partnership and closing the business.
The business closed and both struggled financially. They were good friends but now flagrant enemies.
Baker said the shepherd looks for signs of restlessness, fear and irritation, among the sheep. If he notices those behaviors he knows a serpent is in the midst or nose flies are nearby. When we we begin to feel restless, fearful or irritable in our current situations or circumstances, we should seek the Good Shepherd's help.
The Apostle James said, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). The verse says "submit yourself to God", what if the partners had submitted themselves to God, that is, given place to scripture in their lives. Scripture says, pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). Scripture says, forgive each other's trespasses/offenses because God has forgiven you (Matthew 6:14-15). Scripture also says, offenses will come and woe (woe means grief) to the one causing the offense. However, for our own well-being, we must forgive the offender, if we don't, we give place to the devil (Luke 17:1 and Ephesians 4:27). When the arrogant partner realized he was wrong he sought forgiveness but the offended partner would not forgive him. He held on to the offense. Forgiveness could have saved the business.
The serpent uses various devices to harm us but we are told not to be ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). His favorite device is to spur division and strife in relationships. If relationships fail our companies and families will fail.
We were created to live in unity with God and each other. If unity is broken we cannot be at peace with God, nor can we be at peace with ourselves and others. Remember how Satan drove the man of Gadarenes into the tombs, away from his family and friends, so he could whisper lies to him, causing him to loathe and cut himself to relieve the inner pain and turmoil he felt within. The poor man was tormented by thousands of demonic spirits yelling accusatory profanities and insults, causing him to cry out in the tombs (Mark 5:5 and Mark 5:9).
After Jesus healed him He said go back to your friends and show them the changes God has made in you (Mark 5:19). No longer tormented by fear, anger, regret and resentment, the man joyfully went home spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ along the way (Mark 5:20).