The Lord Is My Shepherd – Psalm 23
Read: Psalm 23 & John 10:1-30
Psalm 23 is one of the most well-known and comforting Psalms. It teaches us a lot about our Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 1 - The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
The Bible pictures all true believers as sheep and all false believers as goats (Matt. 25:32-33). We have all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Like lost sheep, we have all gone astray and we need a shepherd to seek and find us. The Bible says:
“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance (Luke 15:1-7).
Jesus said in John 10:11, that He is the “good shepherd.” He gave His life for the sheep. We all need a shepherd. By nature, we are prone to wander and we need a shepherd to follow. David says that “The Lord is my shepherd.” That is personal. We all can say that “The Lord is my shepherd.” He takes care of each individual sheep. He loves each one of them and cares for each one of them. That is how the Lord Jesus is to us. He loves and cares for each one of us. Each sheep is special and unique in His sight. He laid down His life for each one of His sheep.
David also says, “I shall not want” which means, “I shall not lack.” As our Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus promises to take care of each one of us. He provides for all our needs. The Bible says:
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
“The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing” (Psalm 34:10).
Verse 2 - He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
Jesus our Good Shepherd makes us to lie down in green pastures and not the dry, brown pastures. He provides for us physically as well as spiritually. He gives us the abundant life (John 10:10). He gives us fullness of joy (John 15:11). He also leads us besides the still waters. He calms the storms in our hearts and life. He speaks peace to our hearts and tells us not to be troubled (John 14:1). He tells us over and over:
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Verse 3 - He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
He restores our soul when we are down and discouraged. He remembers us in our lowly state (Psalm 136:23). “He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9). He redeems our “life from destruction” (Psalm 103:4) and renews our strength “like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:5).
He also leads us in the good path, in the path of righteousness. He instructs us and teaches us in the way that we should go (Psalm 32:8) and gives us wisdom (James 1:5).
Verse 4 - Yea, 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.
We have nothing to fear as long as we have our Shepherd with us. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). As believers, we have nothing to fear, even death itself. Our hope is firm in Christ. Our future is secure. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Death is not the end for the believer but the beginning of an eternity with our Shepherd, the Lord Jesus.
"Should a sheep fear when the shepherd is with it? What cause has it to fear if that Shepherd is omniscient, omnipotent, and full of tenderness? Thy rule and thy correction: thy rod, with which I sometimes am made to smart; thy staff, with which I am supported. These are my comforts; why should I fear? Are you drinking in all this precious truth, dear friends? Are you feeling it in your soul’s deepest experience? This Psalm is very good to read, but it is far better to write out from your own experience. Make it a song of your own; not merely a song in the Book, but a song for yourselves." ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
Verse 5 - You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
There is a fight going on, and there are enemies all around. You do not generally have tables set in the hour of battle; but God keeps his people so calm amid the bewildering cry, so confident of victory, that even in the presence of their enemies a table is spread with all the state of a royal banquet. “Thou preparest a table.” There is a doth on the table, there are the ornaments on it, and there are all the accompaniments of a feast: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” They may look on if they like; they may grin, they may wish they could devour, but they cannot sit down at the table, and they cannot prevent me from sitting down at it. Let them blow their trumpets, let them fire their guns: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” It is the very acme of security and repose that is here described. I know of no expression, not even that of lying down in green pastures, that is more full of restfulness than this: “Thou preparest table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
At some feasts, they poured perfumed unguents on the heads of the guests, so God will leave out nothing that is for the joy and comfort of his people. “Thou anointest my head with oil.” You shall have delicacies as well as necessaries; you shall have joy as well as safety; you shall be prepared for service as well as preserved from destruction. ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
I have not only what I wish, but I have more; not only all I can hold, but something to spare: “My cup runneth over.” If this is the case with your cup, dear friend, let it run over in thankful joy, and if you have more of this world’s substance than you need, ask the poor and needy to come and catch that which flows over. ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
Verse 6 - Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Jesus, our Good Shepherd will surround us with His goodness and mercy all the days of our life and He will give us eternal life (John 10:28) and no one is able to snatch us from His Father’s hand (John 10:29). We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The Bible says:
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).