Photo by Joe Pregadra (unsplash)
The 23rd Psalm is one of my favorite Psalms, so when I woke up this morning with this Psalm on my mind, I begin to have feelings of comfort knowing there is someone who loves and cares about me. As I continued meditating on this Psalm, I thought these short six verses are packed with many promises of loving care, protection and provision, and it is so unfortunate that this Psalm is preached more often at funerals than at regular church services.
Everyone, regardless of age, gender or culture, will experience a wounded soul before they leave this earth, we just can’t get around it because we live in a fallen world! But we don’t have to live a lifetime in a hurt and wounded soul because the 23rd Psalm is the answer for our hurt and wounded souls. The 23rd Psalm is a wonderful expression of Jesus illustrating His loving care for his sheep, which we are. What are you going through today? Let’s explore, this Psalm for help in our time our need.
King David, the author of the 23rd Psalm, gives the reader a clear picture of Jesus’ function in the role of a Shepherd as he experienced Jesus in his life, in the area of tender loving care, protection, and provision. Have you ever read the job assignment of a shepherd tending his sheep, it will amaze you how much time and energy is spent caring and protecting sheep – it’s round-the-clock. Actually, from the research I read it is a nonstop job and I would imagine a very tiring job!
This Psalm begins with David calling the Lord “my Shepherd” and he states “I shall not want!” What we have here is David saying the Lord is his “keeper” and the Lord supplies all his needs, he (David) has no lack! What a beginning statement! David was a shepherd “tending” sheep himself, so he knew firsthand the role of a shepherd and experienced the Lord God fulfilling that role in his life. So, let’s explore the role of a shepherd!
A Shepherd’s job:
To “tend” the sheep! This is not a 9-to-5 job – it’s a 24 hour a day job.
He guides the sheep.
He protects and leads the sheep.
He makes sure they have water to drink, grass to eat, and a safe place to sleep.
He keeps away predators and walks across the land securing the area.
He learns to recognize potential dangers that await him and his flock.
He gently pulls back the strayed sheep with his staff.
He looks for the lost sheep when they go astray.
He never leaves nor forsakes His sheep or their needs. He takes care of their wounds.
He comforts the sheep.
So how does this relate to the Lord? In John 10:11 Jesus says: “I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep;” and in John 21: 16 Jesus exhorts Peter three to: feed my lambs; feed my sheep and once again to feed my sheep. Jesus calls Himself the “Good Shepherd” and His children (Believers) are His “sheep.” He promises us tender loving care, protection, provisions, and all the care that a true shepherd gives his sheep. Knowing God as our Good Shepherd should give us confidence enough to cling to His promises for our daily lives, which will help us tremendously in our Christian walk with others, and more importantly in our relationship with God.
Now let’s study the 23rd Psalm closer and review these promises:
V.1: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus promises He will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory. He owns everything and He delights in taking care of all of our needs – physically and spiritually. With the Lord protecting and providing for us, we should not be in lack. Jesus says “he loads us daily with benefits” (Psalm 103). If we do lack, the Word says, we have not because we ask not, or we ask amiss; or we are not living in obedience to God’s commandments.
V.2: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. Reread this verse – “He maketh me” – “He leadeth me.” Jesus knows exactly what we need, which includes spiritual nourishment and rest for our wounded souls. For those times we find ourselves in difficult situations racking our brains wondering how we will ever get out it – well, stop thinking and start believing Jesus’ promises of comfort, provision and protection! Jesus our Good Shepherd promises to give us rest and refreshment when we are in need. He also arranges times when you and I can feed off the greenest of green pastures. This feeding is symbolic of being fed with the word of God for reassurance. He also arranges the quiet waters which speak of refreshment and His peace.
V.3: He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. As David penned, the Lord is the only one who can restore our soul spiritually. These are the quiet waters times when there are seasons of no troubles. We need to thank God for those times! The paths that the Good Shepherd takes us on are the righteous or “right” paths. They will lead us to places of rest and provision and safety. Please note, this doesn’t mean that the path our Good Shepherd takes is always an easy one! Sometimes He goes through the dark valley as the next verse states, which are test and trials to mature us
V.4: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. This verse speaks of trying times in our lives where there is darkness, confusion and fear. But, notice that David says the Good Shepherd is with him and He “walks” through the valley, He doesn’t stop or visit, and he doesn’t give up hope. The Good Shepherd presses on knowing that if there are shadows, there must be light around the corner causing them! The Good Shepherd will make a way of escape for His sheep. The Good Shepherd’s rod is used for protecting the sheep from predators, He is our defense. The Good Shepherd’s staff is used to direct the sheep which way to go. There is great comfort in knowing that God directs us and when we wander astray, He gently guides us back.
V.5: Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. David is giving us a picture of the Good Shepherd as his gracious and merciful host who provides all that His sheep need – even in times of apparent difficulty. David is saying that the provision and grace of Jesus gives him such confidence that in times when he should be fearful or anxious, he is still able to sit, relax, and eat! His Good Shepherd is the one providing for him and anointing his head with oil, so he knows that he has more than enough!
V.6: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Can you say this about your life? Yes, only if you know the Lord Jesus as your Good Shepherd! As the Good Shepherd, Jesus promises, He will never leave us or forsake us, and His goodness and mercy will follow us wherever we go or whatever we do in life!
To further encourage us, Psalm 37:23-25 reads “the steps of a man are ordered by the Lord; and He delighteth in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” These verses should give us added confidence in our daily walk with God as we believe them by faith knowing and experiencing the Lord Jesus as our Good Shepherd caring and protecting us!
Friends we live in a chaotic world and we will often find our souls wounded, but we can find healing in Jesus as we bring our burdens to Him. He stands ready to restore our wounded souls and to lead us into all paths of righteousness. So today I encourage you to read and study the 23rd Psalm often and commend all of those promises into you mind and heart as you as come to understand God’s love and His tender care for your life. Try replacing the words “my, me, and I with your name, making this Psalm personal for you. I also encourage you today to:
Cast all your burdens upon the Good Shepherd, He will carry them for you and heal your wounds. Psalms 37:19 tells us that “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” So, don’t act surprised when the devil attacks you, instead call upon the Good Shepherd, He is waiting for your cry. Trust the Good Shepherd to save you from all your trials and difficulties in this life. He will lead you to green pastures. Finally, Believe and you shall receive. Faith in the Good Shepherd is the key for your seasons of trials. Walk by faith, not by what you see! The Good Shepherd will walk you through those dark valleys called life, supplying your every need.