Psalm 23

Image: Psalm 23

What does it mean for God to be my shepherd?

One of the most popular psalms in the Bible is Psalm 23 written by King David.  Before David was a mighty king, he was a humble shepherd boy, and his job was to make sure they didn’t wander off or get eaten by predators.  But how does this passage about a shepherd and his sheep, relate back to our relationship with God?  To answer this question, we’ll break down this Psalm piece by piece:

Green Pastures and Peaceful Streams

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:1-3

Every sheep needs food and safety, but they don’t know how to get there.  That’s why a shepherd is in charge of leading sheep to green meadows where they can graze and to peaceful streams where they can drink (Psalm 23:1-2).  We as God’s children are the sheep.  God knows our every need, and while we don’t always see it in the moment, He is making our paths clear so all our needs are fulfilled (Psalm 23:3; Philippians 4:19).

Valley of the shadow of death

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

Dark valleys are a dangerous place for sheep to wander off (Psalm 23:4).  They are separated from the flock and much more vulnerable to predators.  Hardships, whether it be with friends, school, or unexpected tragedies, can make us feel like lost, lonely sheep.  God can seem distant from our problems and us, which makes us susceptible to fear and despair.  However there is no need to worry. God our shepherd will always guide his sheep, in times of fear and despair. Christians can be confident in the assurance that He is always with them, leading the way.

Prepares a table in the presence of my enemies

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5

God invites us as a guest to His very own table (Psalm 23:5). There’s nothing more exciting than a delicious feast of your favorite mouthwatering foods.  A good meal always leaves us happy and well nourished. Even our sufferings cannot overcome the promises of Gods love, provision and protection, which leave us peaceful and satisfied. We can be confident witnesses to other Christians who are suffering, reminding them of the assurance of God’s compassionate character and His ultimate gift of generosity of His own Son Jesus.

Goodness and Mercy

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6

David closes Psalm 23 with a reflection of God’s promise. David is confident that God will never leave him or forsake him, for he is confident in the compassionate character of God.  Goodness and mercy is God’s steadfast love, which is the assurance for Christians that God has indeed given His people an oversupply of grace. This psalm prepares the way to show the ultimate act of God’s steadfast love, in giving his Son as the sacrificial lamb, who took away all our sins, enabling all wayward sheep to live with God forever in heaven (Isaiah 53:6).

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