3 Sept 2021

Psalm 23 is perhaps the best known and best loved of all psalms. This is a psalm written by king David – here two pictures of God are depicted – one the Shepherd and the other the host and His guests.

The people of God in the Old Testament and New Testament were familiar with the concept of the shepherd and God as their shepherd; we would recall Moses and Jacob as shepherds tending the sheep; the claim of Jesus “I am the good shepherd” in John 10:11 still rings in the ears of believers. “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4); “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep…” (Heb. 13:20) – these verses identify Jesus as the chief Shepherd and the great Shepherd of the sheep (God’s people), God Himself.

The psalm is a metaphor – by it a great and blessed truth is set forth by the representation of God (Jehovah) as a shepherd – it is He who tends His people and does more for them than any earthly shepherd does for his sheep. All the attributes of the Shepherd are so bound up with the care given to His sheep – He provides, He leads, He restores and heals, He protects, He comforts and He is present and fights the enemies – He the good Shepherd who even lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:15).

But we must not miss this – David made a personal statement – “The Lord is MY Shepherd” – he boldly claims this and does not even mention the other sheep of the flock. Can we say like David that God the Lord is our Shepherd? It is only when we can claim this reality that we would experience His provision for all our needs, His
refreshment to quench our hunger and thirst and HIs guidance in the paths of righteousness, not allowing us to stray. Notice that God does all these for His sheep for His name’s sake, that is, out of loyalty to His character and promises to all those who are His sheep and those who recognise and hear His voice.

But we also must not miss another point – the good Shepherd is with us even when we walk through the darkest valley, whether it be death or some other somber place, we need not fear. He is there with us, protecting us with His rod and guiding us with His staff. My security and safety lie not in my environment but in my Shepherd.

Then we are told that the Lord provides a banquet for me in the presence of my enemies because He satisfies my soul. Even when the environment is rife with many enemies, God still satisfies my soul lavishly; His goodness and love will follow all the days of my life.

In this psalm, the sweet psalmist David exults in the assurance of being supported by God through life and death and of spending eternity in His presence. This too can be our assurance if “the Lord is my Shepherd”.