Psalm 23: Knowing the Shepherd
A favorite Bible passage of mine is Psalm 23. Although often read at funerals for comfort, its words bring comfort and guidance any day, in any situation. It is a psalm of confidence about the Lord’s care, written by the shepherd David.
David knew about the life of a shepherd from his early years. We gain insight from his writing about the Lord as our shepherd.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
The loving care of the shepherd provides for the needs of the sheep.
Psalm 23 shows us the care of the shepherd.
Sheep need a caregiver to lead them to food and water, guiding them from danger. They could not survive on their own. The word pictures of Psalm 23 reveal the caring relationship between the shepherd and his sheep. David, the human shepherd, depicts the character of the Good Shepherd.
In John 10, Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the the sheep, who knows them personally and calls them by name. The sheep trust the good shepherd and follow him.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
What a beautiful picture of a relationship with the Lord! He is the gentle shepherd who leads and provides the best for the sheep.
Psalm 23 offers us comfort and courage.
Comfort is shown in verse 4.
Even though I was through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.
In this verse, we gain courage to face our fears. The valley of the shadow of death could be a physical death, but also could be a death of a relationship or loss of security or the death of a dream. We grieve over many types of losses. Yet the Lord promises His comfort and presence in the midst of any loss.
The shepherd’s tools, the rod and staff, are implements of care. The rod is a short, thick stick used to protect the sheep from predators, to discipline the sheep if they stray, and to count the sheep as they return to the sheep pen. The staff is long with a curved hook. It can be used to guide the sheep, rescue the sheep, and draw the sheep close to him. The shepherd developed skills in using the rod and staff.
We gain comfort knowing the Lord cares for us, protects us, and draws us to himself. He is with us always.
Psalm 23 describes confidence in the Lord for provision in difficult situations.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
The feast is prepared with peace and holy confidence from the Lord. We draw strength and courage from the Lord, knowing he is with us. He pours his love over us, even in the midst of our adversaries.
Psalm 23 lavishes blessings on us.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
As we receive blessings of goodness and mercy from the Lord, we become vessels to share those blessings with others. The comfort and care from the Lord are passed on.
These six verses help us know the Shepherd of our souls, giving us confidence and comfort for our daily lives.
What images and memories of Psalm 23 give you hope?
Do you know the Good Shepherd?