The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  Psalm 23:1

 

       Most of us are very familiar with Psalm 23.  It is often read as a source of comfort, strength, and encouragement when going through difficult times.  I frequently read Psalm 23 at the gravesite portion of funeral services.  Recently, I read Psalm 23 at a gravesite service and as I was leaving, an older man working for the funeral home said, “Young man, you need to study Psalm 23.  It has been a big help to me since losing my wife.”  At the time, I thought to myself, “I have studied Psalm 23.”  I’ve taught Psalm 23 before and we went through it verse by verse online right after the Covid pandemic shut us down in March 2020.  Then I thought, maybe He is right, I need to study Psalm 23 again. 

         We know that Psalm 23 was written by King David.  David was the youngest son of Jesse and was a shepherd boy who took care of sheep for many years.  He understood the role of a shepherd and used it as a metaphor of himself as a sheep and God as His faithful Shepherd.  The shepherd and sheep analogy is used to depict God’s gentleness and guidance throughout our lives, and the love of a Shepherd who is willing to lay down His life for his sheep.

       Maybe you are going thru a difficult or challenging time in your life and can find encouragement from walking through Psalm 23 and letting it soak in.  Allow me to share seven truths that we find in Psalm 23. 

  1. Our Shepherd’s care is very personal. David begins by proclaiming that the Lord is “my Shepherd.”  David used a first-person pronoun (I, me, or my) seventeen times in this psalm.  Just as a shepherd knows his sheep, our God knows and cares about us individually.  When nobody else is around, the Lord is always near and His care is very personal.     
  2. Our Shepherd never stops providing for us. David said, “I shall not want” or “I shall not be lacking.” He knows what we need and often provides important things like peace, strength, healing, and wisdom when we need them.
  3. Our Shepherd’s provision is all based on His grace. When we are walking through difficult times and are weak, tired, and confused, it is a blessing to know that the Lord Himself takes the responsibility of leading, guiding, and directing us. His provisions (green pastures and still waters) and His refreshment (restores my soul) is all given based upon His grace. 
  4. Our Shepherd leaves us nothing to fear. No matter how dark or difficult it gets (even through the valley of the shadow of death), we have nothing to fear because the Lord (our Shepherd) is right there with us.  When we go through the most difficult of times, He is going to show Himself strong, loving, faithful, and worthy of all glory.
  5. Our Shepherd satisfies us. Psalm 23:5 gives us an image of the Lord as a host preparing a banquet for us.  Even when our face enemies, adversity, and difficulties, He “prepares a table” for us and He honors us as a quest by “anointing our head with oil” such that our “cup overflows.”  Our Shepherd not only sustains us, He satisfies us.
  6. Our Shepherd pursues us with His love. His “goodness and mercy” are pursuing us each and every moment.  Even as we are prone to turn away from God, His love and care continues in an all-out pursuit of us (like a shepherd pursuing a wayward sheep).
  7. Our experience with our Shepherd will never end. David specifies that the Shepherd’s goodness and mercy will follow us “all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  John 10 tells us that we are His sheep and nothing or no one will snatch us out of His hands. 

Let me encourage you to spend a little time in Psalm 23 and be encouraged by the shepherd imagery.  He is a good shepherd and I’m sure glad the Lord is my Shepherd.

 

Bro. Harold