Summary: In “The Journey of Faith” from Psalm 23, we experience: 1) God’s provision (Psalm 23:1–3) and 2) God’s protection (Psalm 23:4–6).
On our recent family trip in Quebec, we had the wonderful opportunity to travel through old Montreal. We strolled down the vibrant waterfront, toured historic buildings like the Notre Dame Basicillia, experienced the food in the abundant café’s, saw the art and heard the many public concerts. One thing we weren’t expecting, besides the insane drivers and prolific construction, was the Pokémon GO craze. Montreal police were called to intervene after hundreds of Pokémon GO players congregated at Cabot Square, a downtown parkette next to a subway station, Wednesday night to catch a rare Pokémon. (http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/lives-in-jeopardy-montreal-police-intervene-after-rare-pokemon-appears-at-downtown-square) Pokémon GO is an augmented reality smart phone app. It takes live images of the real world and adds elements to them. One player remarked: “the community aspect of the game is a big draw. Players join one of three teams once they reach Level 5, and Tackaberry and his co-workers all play together on the same one — the blue team, Team Mystic”. (http://www.guelphmercury.com/whatson-story/6774283-pokemon-go-players-explain-the-appeal/)
Christianity centers in Jesus Christ and a called community—the people chosen by God to be faithful to God’s purposes and standards. God’s people, chosen in Christ, are a special treasure of God and are intended to be a redemptive witness to the good news of Christ. There are both wonderful joys and distracting dangers as the people of God journey together by faith.
Psalm 23 reflects a journey of faith for David. The psalm is written consistently from the perspective of the sheep; that is, its expression of trust and confidence presupposes an awareness of helplessness and need on the part of the one who trusts. In a distinctive fashion, the psalmist has set forth the fundamentals of the covenant relationship, not in terms of Lord and servant, but in the more intimate language of shepherd and sheep (Craigie, P. C. (1998). Psalms 1–50 (Vol. 19, p. 209). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.).
The inspired superscription of Psalm 23 is entitled “A Psalm of David”. It can be considered a Psalm from, for or to David. It can be ascribed to him reflecting his faith because of his vocation as a shepherd (1 Sam. 16:11), and because of the intense personal relationship with God evidenced here. Scholars have categorized this psalm as a “psalm of confidence,” because it expresses a faith stemming from a confidence in God. David’s faith is centered on the person of God knowing who God is and what He can be counted on to do. From this, we can understand how to have a faith that can be strong regardless of the circumstances. In “The Journey of Faith” from Psalm 23, we experience: 1) God’s provision (Psalm 23:1–3) and 2) God’s protection (Psalm 23:4–6).
1) God’s Provision(Psalm 23:1–3)
Psalm 23:1–3 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (ESV)
“The LORD” is God, the covenant making God of Israel. The compound names of God in the Old Testament reflect the contents of this psalm. “I shall not want”—Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide” (Gen. 22:14) “still waters”- Jehovah-Shalom, “the Lord our peace” (Judg. 6:24) “restores my soul”—Jehovah-Rophe, “the Lord who heals” (Ex. 15:26) “paths of righteousness”—Jehovah-Tsidkenu, “the Lord our righteousness” (Jer. 33:16) “you are with me”—Jehovah-Shammah, “the Lord is there” (Ezek. 48:35) “presence of my enemies”—“Jehovah-Nissi, “the Lord our banner” (Ex. 17:15) and “anoint my head”—Jehovah-M’Kaddesh, “the Lord who sanctifies” (Lev. 20:8) (Wiersbe, W. W. (2004). Be worshipful (1st ed., pp. 94–95). Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries.)
The personal confession with which David begins his meditation establishes the thesis for the rest of the prayer. In effect Psalm 23 answers the question: “What does it mean for Yahweh to be my shepherd?” The metaphor is not only a designation or name of the Lord, but it points toward the relation between God and his covenant-children (VanGemeren, W. A. (1991). Psalms. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Vol. 5, p. 215). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.)
Since David knows well how to care for sheep, he is able gracefully and powerfully to apply this metaphor to his relationship with God. David expresses his relationship with God as “my.” God. Faith in God is personal. God is known in His individual relationships. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 3:6). When David was anointed king, God spoke to Samuel, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” then “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward” (1 Sam. 16:12–13). The Psalter witnesses to the intimacy of David’s relationship with the Lord. Indeed, for David He is “my shepherd.” The shepherd metaphor, which contains within it reminiscences of the Exodus provides hope for an exiled community cut off from home and temple.( Craigie, P. C. (1998). Psalms 1–50 (Vol. 19, p. 205). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.)