Over the past week, I spent some time with one of the most popular Psalms in Scripture. Sometimes in its familiarity we can lose sight of the great comfort the Lord provides through David’s words. When David wrote Psalm 23 he was in the midst of struggles: he had enemies on all sides, he was overwhelmed with emotion, and he felt like he was on the edge of death. I’m sure there are times in each of our lives when we feel like we just can’t take anymore. We feel like we are walking through a valley just like David. Even the hymn, Amazing Grace, shows us the reality that in life there are many dangers, toils, and snares that we must go through. Sadly, this is the reality that we face in life on earth. Because of sin there are valleys and struggles. In Rom. 5:12, Paul says that through sin death has entered this world. Because we all have sinned we face sickness, suffering, disease, and death. However, just like the hymn also sings God has given us amazing grace to lead us through these things and David held to this truth.
In the first line of Ps. 23 David writes, “The Lord is my shepherd.” David does not let his circumstances dictate his truth. This is what he knows to be true and this truth in the Old Testament points us to the truth of Jesus. He referred to Himself as “The Shepherd” showing where David’s hope was directed. Jesus came that He might lead us, as a Shepherd, out of sorrow and death, sin and punishment, and into joy and life. On our own we could not reach the standard that God had set for us. We had no hope but Jesus came to this earth. He lived this life perfectly yet He was taken, betrayed, and beaten, hung from a cross, and there at the cross He was punished by His Father for our sins. Jesus took the punishment of death so that we wouldn’t have to. Then 3 days later Jesus was resurrected from the dead so that we too could have life. So, when we turn from our sins to Jesus – He leads us as a shepherd.
As we continue reading through the Psalm we see what gives David comfort. God, the maker of heaven and earth, the one who upholds and sustains all things is his Shepherd. This is a good shepherd to have. This shepherd not only cares for our daily needs but he also cares for our soul. The Bible says in Ez. 18:4 that the soul who sins will die. Jesus leads us on the paths of righteousness that we may live. God guides us in honoring Him. He leads us in what is right. David hung on the words of His Shepherd because he knew that these words lead to life. In them he found care for his soul.
David continues in vs. 4, “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.” There is no fear in the face of death when the Lord is our Shepherd. Why? Because we have a Shepherd that has promised to never leave nor forsake us. He remains with us even in the face of death reminding us of the hope that we have in Him. And for those who believe, we only walk through the shadow of death. We don’t experience it in all of its eternal sense. Even though we may take a final breath on this earth, our lives are not over. We wake up in heaven in the presence of Jesus. David continues (vs. 5-6), “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” There’s the ultimate hope and the great promise that David had and that we can have: that whatever happens we will dwell in His house forever.
Finally, back in vs. 1, David says, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want…” because nothing compares to knowing Him. There is no want of anything else. David could have great contentment in his circumstances knowing Jesus. He had everything he could ever want or need in Him. This Shepherd doesn’t just lead us to satisfaction for our soul but He is that very satisfaction! Do you know Jesus in this way? Have you learned to find comfort and rest in the Shepherd that He is? I pray that you would find abundant comfort in the truth of this Psalm!
Following The Great Shepherd With You, Pastor Rudy