Summary: Psalms 23
HIS SHEEP AM I (PSALM 23)
Have you heard of the computer user’s version of Psalm 23?
The Lord is my programmer, I shall not crash.
He installed His software on the hard disk of my heart. All of His commands are user friendly.
His directory guides me to the right choices for His name's sake. Even though I scroll through the problems of life, I will fear no bugs, for He is my back-up.
His password protects me. He prepares a menu before me in the presence of my enemies.
His help is only a keystroke away.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and my file will be merged with His and saved forever.
Psalms 23 is the most beloved psalm in the Bible and the shepherd analogy is the most popular analogy in the Bible. A pastor says, “Psalms 23 is the most quoted and memorized poem in history” and a writer says it is the most repeated and cited chapter in the Bible. A renowned pastor Coffman remembers quoting Psalms 23 at every one of the one hundred funerals that he held in 1937.
What kind of a relationship do we have with the Lord and how do we deepen our relationship to Him? Why must we closely and consistently follow our Savior and Shepherd?
No Supply is Surer
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Once I went to my clubhouse for my morning swim and my club card got entangled with small bills in my pocket. I joked to the lady who manned the morning shift: “There goes my money. Now I cannot be rich anymore!” She said, “Mr. Yip, it is not necessary to be rich; having enough is OK.”
The shepherd is the most beloved analogy for God in the Bible. In the Old Testament the Lord is known as the Shepherd of Israel (Ps 80:1), and in the New Testament Jesus is the good shepherd (John 10:11), that great shepherd of the sheep (Heb 13:20), the Shepherd and Bishop of souls (1 Peter 2:25) and the chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). We, on the other hand, are the sheep of His pasture (Ps 74:1, 79:13, 100:3) and the sheep of His hand (Ps 95:7).
The noun “shepherd” may also be translated as keeper (Gen 4:2), feed (Gen 29:7), a companion (Prov 13:20), friendship (Prov 22:24) and pastors (Jer 3:15). It is more a title; it is a task. It is practical more than positional. It is a duty more than a designation. The shepherd is dear, dedicated and dependable, never distant, dreaded or disliked.
The verb “lack” (v 1) is traditionally translated as abated (Gen 8:3), decrease (Gen 8:5) and bereave (Eccl 4:8). The same phrase “lack nothing” is repeated in eight other verses – half of which famously referred to the wilderness experience where those who gathered little had no lack (Ex 16:18), where they spent forty years lacking nothing (Deut 2:7), eating bread without scarceness (Deut 8:9), experiencing God’s sustenance in the wilderness (Neh 9:21). Other passages outside of the wilderness experience include Elijah’s promise of oil without fail to the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:14), no want of any good thing (Ps 34:10), husbands with capable wives who have no need of spoil (Prov 31:11), and the promise of bread without fail for the exile (Isa 51:14). The shepherd is tender, tenacious and, most of all, trustworthy. We are never short, stranded or starved with our shepherd around us and attending us. There is no hunger, harm, hazard, hurry or heartbreak with Him around.
The next line begins with four second person HE singular: HE makes me lie down in green pastures, HE leads me beside quiet waters (v 2), HE refreshes my soul, and HE guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
The noun “pastures” (v 2) make its debut in the Bible and can be translated as habitations (Ps 74:20), houses (Ps 83:12) and pleasant places (Jer 23:10). The noun “green” (v 2) is never translated as “green” elsewhere, but as grass (Gen 1:11), tender herb (Deut 32:2) and tender grass (2 Sam 23:4). It refers to superior, satisfying and sprouting food. The verb lie down implies recline, rest and relax, not rushed.
The verb “lead” (v 2) is more work to mere “lead.” It includes feeding (Gen 47:17), guiding (Ex 15:13) and carrying (2 Chron 28:15). The noun “quiet/still” can be translated as rest (Gen 49:15), ease (Judg 20:43), and comfortable (2 Sam 14:17). Besides green pastures, sheep require quiet waters for the food to go down. Pastures and waters are plural in Hebrew. There is peace and plenty in the Lord.