Summary: The Lord is my Shepherd... I must not lack.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Psalms 23 : 1 - 6
David wrote this Psalm out of great distress and disillusion. Distress because King Saul was chasing him and trying to kill him. Disillusion because this cruelty of King Saul was not what David expected from his king and the king’s army. "Is this part of being anointed king of Israel", he might have muttered. King David was telling us that God is ever present on the long and winding road called weariness. David was convincing us that God is powerful to remove the road blocks while we are traveling the torturous avenue called worry. He is also assuring us that God has a place and a peace for us who are tired of wandering through the streets of vain life. The imagery of Psalms 23, one of the most poetic chapters (if not the most poetic of all) that David wrote in the book of Psalms, captures the imagination of every age, comforts the commotion of every heart and confirms the expectations of everyone who believes in the Lord as the Good Shepherd.
Let’s look at how King David masterfully relates the Lord as his Shepherd to himself as a sheep. The first verse paints a vivid picture of how this Shepherd relates to all who would, in faith and surrender, come to His fold to take refuge in times of distress and disillusion.
The Good Shepherd is Permanently Reliable for His Sheep! The name of the Lord, "Yehovah" or "Yahweh" is eternally meaningful as it embodies the very nature and character of God. It is the most sacred name of God and it is used over 1000 times in the bible. It is amazingly significant because it is made up of the three tenses of the Hebrew verb, "to be". "Hiwa" is in the past tense, which can be translated, "He was". "Hove" is in the present tense, which can be translated, "He is". And "Yae" is in the future tense, which can be translated, "He will be". The Good Shepherd’s name is "Yahweh" or "Yehovah" and that is more than enough to declare what He can do, and is doing to all who comes to Him in faith. He forgives your past. He fosters your present. And He fixes your future. My friend, have you trusted Him for your salvation?
In a VBS class, the teacher required all children in her class to recite the whole chapter of Psalms 23. Each one would have to recite the whole chapter on the day of their graduation. All the kids were so excited but one, Robert, a kid who was born premature and had real struggles in memorizing. Graduation day came and every child was wearing a robe and a corsage. One by one, the children recited Psalms 23 with much enthusiasm. Robert was to recite last. As he watched the other kids recite the chapter, he ducked on his seat fidgeting alternately the tassel of his cap and the buttons of his robe. He’s really feeling nervous. When it was his turn, he jumped off his seat, grabbed the microphone, chuckled to clear his throat and with much gusto he declared, "The Lord is my Shepherd"…. and there was a pause for several seconds. Then with a louder voice he continued, "That’s all I need to know".
The Good Shepherd is Personally Related to His Sheep! Traditional sheep owners had their own distinctive earmark, which is cut into one of the ears of the sheep. In a way, even at a distance, it is easy to determine to whom the sheep belong. Modern day owners of sheep herds, too, have their own distinctive marks on the ears of their sheep. Often, they fasten an ear tag on each sheep, as mark of ownership. There is a striking parallel to this in the O.T. When a slave in a Hebrew household decided on his own free-will to become a member of that family, he subjected himself to a certain ritual. On the year of jubilee when all slaves are freed, the master would offer the slave a place in the family. This is an offer of grace to the slave. In turn, the slave who would prefer to remain in the family of his master would receive that offer by submitting to undergo a ritual. His master would take him over to a door, put his earlobe against the doorpost and puncture a hole through the slave’s ear. From that time on, that slave was marked for life as belonging to this family. The slave would be placed into an irrevocable relationship with his master. That relationship would even give the former slave rights of inheritance – a son. My friend, are you personally related to the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd? Receive Him in faith, as your Lord and Savior and you would be placed into a position of a son – an heir of the heavenly riches in Christ.