Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd…
Psalm 23 is arguably one of the most well-known pieces of Scripture in modern-day Christianity. We can recite it by heart, and we relate it to finding rest. We think we know this psalm so well, but there’s always so much more to experience and unpack. Therefore, we will be going through it slowly over the next couple of weeks.
The very first question we need to ask is, what does David mean when he calls God his shepherd? Why is this specific profession the most wonderful and powerful way he could describe God?
Let’s jump right in!
#1: A SHEPHERD PROVIDES
The very first thing a shepherd does is he provides. What does he provide for? He provides for his sheep’s needs.
Sheep, just like any other animal, need food and water. They also need safety and direction.
Sheep need to graze on grass fields for food and cannot drink from fast-flowing streams.
It is, therefore the role of the shepherd to find the right fields for his sheep and to wake up early to search for quiet waters.
And so, in Psalm 23:2, it is not surprising that David mentions both of these things, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”
David found that God was just like a shepherd in this respect – He provided for all of David’s needs and led him to places where he could receive what he needed.
God our Shepherd is extremely intentional. He does not give us everything we want, but He does give us everything we need. He also makes sure that what we consume is good for us. In God’s role as our Shepherd, we see Him giving us quality and not just quantity. The Shepherd gives us direction by leading the way for us to follow.
#2: A SHEPHERD PROTECTS
The second thing about a shepherd is that they protect their sheep.
By nature, sheep do not have claws or sharp teeth to defend themselves from predators with, rendering them vulnerable when lost and alone in the wild.
For this reason, the shepherd is with his sheep at all times. He serves the sheep, protects the sheep, and would even give His life for the sheep.
David knew this to be true of God. In Psalm 23:5 he says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
David knew God to be someone who protected him when his enemies were all around him.
In the same way, when we are helpless, God fights for us! How truly precious we are in His eyes!
#3: A SHEPHERD PURSUES
And finally, a shepherd pursues.
In Luke 15:4-6 we read of a story that best describes what God is like as a shepherd: He leaves the 99 to find the 1.
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the one that 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 his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.”
Even though there are many other sheep in the pasture, God is still intentional with each of them individually. In the same way, everyone is precious in His eyes and therefore He is willing to pay the cost of a journey to find and bring His sheep – you and I – back home when we lose our way!
I love that David knew God to be his shepherd, but what I love more is that this foreshadowed what Jesus revealed about Himself…
Jesus also called Himself a shepherd: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
In Jesus, we see the clearest picture of what God is like – He truly is not just David’s Shepherd but ours too. He is not just A Shepherd, or THE Shepherd, but MY Shepherd.
How undeserving we are, and yet we have a Shepherd to provide, protect and pursue us all the way.
Thank You Jesus, there is no one like You.
In what ways is God a shepherd to you?
Thank you for being my Shepherd.
You provide for me to live abundantly, protect me from my enemies, and pursue me when I’m going in the wrong direction.
Even though I am so incapable, You pour out Your love for me the way a shepherd does for his sheep.
Thank You for Psalm 23, that it gives us a better picture of understanding You and the way You care for Your flock.
May I continue to be a sheep that listens to Your voice and lives within Your love.
In Jesus’ Name,
Pray for someone you know who needs to feel the love of His Shepherd today. Pray that the Lord would show them who He is – that He is their provider, their protector, and their pursuer.