Psalm 23 — MY Shepherd
This Psalm is about the leadership of the Lord. The Lord’s name as our shepherd comes with his leadership.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
The Lord is not just a shepherd, or even the shepherd. He is my shepherd. This confession of belonging is intended to produce contentment in our hearts. Examine your heart for contentment. Are you content? If not, make this confession your own. The Lord Jesus Christ is YOUR shepherd.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
After producing contentment in our hearts, he makes us lie down. Notice here that he doesn’t request that we lie down. He makes me lie down because we don’t want to. Rest is anathema to our flesh. Our flesh feels the need to constantly be working for God instead of resting in God. These first two verses are paramount for us to experience the Lord’s leadership highlighted in the rest of this Psalm.
He wants us content and at rest and then he begins to LEAD us.
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
The most quiet waters in all of God’s word are the ones before his throne. The sea of glass is completely still. It is from this place, in the throne room, that God leads us. He leads us to drink of His Spirit and it is in this place that we find the restoration of our soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Now that we are at rest, content and with a restored soul, he begins to take us down the paths of righteousness. Notice the reason he leads us down this path…it is for his name’s sake. Many of us get discouraged and confused about why certain things happen in our lives because we have made our Christian walk all about us! But oftentimes God leadership in our lives is not about us! It is for his name’s sake! He will take us down a path to accomplish something for HIS NAME.
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.
Notice that right after David speaks of the paths of righteousness, he ends up walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Sometimes the right paths don’t feel like the right path. Many of us are led by God through the valley of the shadow of death and we feel as though we are on the wrong path. But any path where God is with you is the right path. He also does not say that there is no evil. He says that he will fear no evil. There is a big difference!
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
And just when we thought we would get out of this valley, God’s leadership often offends our sensibilities. In this valley of the shadow of death, the Lord stops and begins to prepare a table! This is the table of the Lord, we now know to be the table of communion, where covenant is made and anointing is given. If God has led you into a dark place, look for the table! There is a place of nourishment and life to be found even in the darkest of valleys. In the presence of our enemies we feast with our God, knowing that victory belongs to the Lord.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
One of the things I love most about the Lord is how we completely redeems our past. For those who enter into covenant with God, goodness and mercy will occupy the space behind us so that every time we look back, no matter what we’ve walked through, we will see the goodness and mercy of God! The final promise of this Psalm is that we should dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I believe this promise is fulfilled in Hebrews 3:5-6:
Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
In the New Covenant, we become God’s house through our confidence in the finished work of Christ and the hope of his return!