The Lord is my shepherd
Psalm 23 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
The Lord, the Psalmist’s Shepherd. A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In John 10:1-11 Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers… Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
Surely there is nothing on earth, nothing of which we know and understand in this physical realm which can fully and accurately compare to or describe the love, the compassion, the grace, the protection and the provision of God for His people. Jesus used parables and analogies of things that people could understand so that they might at least begin to understand the depth of God’s love and compassion. What we need to guard against, is making the mistake of limiting God to or by these comparisons. God is infinite, eternal, omnipotent and omnipresent. His love is unconditional and everlasting. Nothing we know or can imagine can fully describe Him. So, we read and hear these descriptive analogies, to begin to know Him.
It’s ironic, but fitting, that Jesus, who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, would describe Himself as a shepherd; while David, the psalmist, who was himself a shepherd and became a king, uses the same illustration to describe his relationship to the Lord. In today’s text from Psalm 23, David says: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. A shepherd makes certain that every need of the sheep is met and provided for. If we will see the Lord as the one who is responsible for us, if as Jesus says, we will know and follow His voice, we will not want for anything at all. He will provide all that we need. The psalmist says: He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. There are times in life that we might seem to be in a barren wasteland, yet in Jesus we will have peace and comfort. Philippians 4:6-7 says: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. When we are in the midst of a storm, with turbulent raging waters, Jesus leads us to still quiet waters. He calms the storm as He did in in Mark 4:39: He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. That the Lord restores our souls is much more than that He returns us to what we were. Jesus restores us to what we were intended to be. He says He lays down His life for the sheep. On the cross Jesus laid His life down so that we could be fully restored, redeemed from sin, reconciled to God, created in His image and likeness and have eternal life with Him through our fully restored eternal soul.
The psalmist says: He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. The truth is, Jesus does only lead and guides us. He forces no one to follow Him. Jesus says: “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers… The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” There are many voices we hear and can follow, but there is only one voice which will guide us to righteousness and so to the abundant and eternal life with God. Jesus says: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) The psalmist says: 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. Because we have eternal life through Christ, death is merely a shadow. It has no lasting power or substance. There is nothing we should fear in physical death. 2 Corinthians 5:8 says: We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. We must know like the psalmist though that the rod and the staff of the shepherd are used for guidance, for protection and for discipline. We must find comfort even in the discipline of the Lord. For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:12)
The psalmist says: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. The table He sets before us is not so that we would arrogantly celebrate in the presence of our enemies, but rather, as it says in Romans 12:18-21: If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. The burning coals are not for the destruction of our enemies, but rather for their cleansing. Jesus says: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28) The power and the ability for us to do this, to love our enemies, comes from the anointing we have from the Lord. More than oil on our head, we have the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We have the very Spirit of God dwelling with us and in us. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit, which fills us beyond our ability to contain it, which then overflows with the love and compassion of God, even for our enemies. Jesus never asks that we do something He has not already done or which He has given us the ability to do through Him. On the cross, He said: “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Can we not also then, pray also that they would receive the blessing of forgiveness.
The psalmist says: Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days
of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Like the psalmist, we need to live here and now, in this life, in the abundance of the Lord’s goodness and loving kindness. It should not only follow us, but it should go before us. Psalm 89:14 says: Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You. Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) We live in the present, knowing that our future is secure; that like the psalmist, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. May I walk in the revelation and the understanding I have, even as You continue to give me more revelation of who You are. Thank You for speaking to me, for leading and guiding me. Thank You most of all that You restored my soul, You redeemed me from sin and reconciled me to Yourself through the cross, where You laid down Your life for me. Amen.