Summary: Psalm 23 is a commonly known, oft-quoted Psalm which many have memorized or display promptly in their homes. However, from the very beginning of the Psalm, we see that it is quite personal.
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
Perhaps as a shepherd, David often mused or thought on the things of the Lord. The word muse means to think, ponder, or consider. Psalm 23, is evidence that David spent time considering and meditating on God ("musing").
How much the Lord might reveal to us about Himself if we would only muse on Him more. Sadly, these days so many seek a–musement; the prefix a- meaning contrary or opposite of.
And so we have the opposite of muse – NOT thinking. Thus, we spend so much of our time these days pursuing non-thinking activities: computer games, movies, sporting events, shows, and the like. How sad for us when we could know the God of the Bible even more intimately, yet we choose to not think upon Him.
Psalm 23 is a commonly known Psalm which many have memorized or display promptly in their homes. Often called the
Shepherd’s Psalm it is quoted often by those who are having hard times in their lives. However, from the very beginning of the Psalm, we see that it is quite personal: The LORD is my shepherd…
The possessive my identifies the rest of the Psalm as something which relates to those whose Shepherd truly is the LORD.
Regarding our condition as sheep before the LORD, we may look at Isaiah 53:6 which tells us, “all we like sheep have gone astray …” and that from the womb we are estranged (alienated from God), we go forth speaking lies (Psalm 58:3). We are all born sinners (Psalm 51:5) and we all sin (Romans 3:23).
So somehow we must come to a place where we have been found and returned to the fold. John chapter 10 tells us that the sheep know the Lord’s voice, and they follow Him. Thus, to claim this Psalm, one must have turned from their way (Isaiah 53:6), which is the way of sin, and looked to the Lord in saving faith as the Lamb of God slain for their sin: Our Perfect Sacrifice.
It must be a personally appropriated faith upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross; and His resurrection for our justification. Only then can we claim the Lord as our Shepherd, when we have submitted to His Word in saving faith and follow Him, His voice (John 10:4), which is His Word.
Therefore, to claim this Psalm without a personal relationship with the Lord would be misleading. How many who display this Psalm; who rely on this Psalm actually have the Lord as their Shepherd?
The remainder of the Psalm provides so many precious promises to those in Christ. We know from 2Corinthians 1:20, that in Christ, all the promises of God are yea (positive; in the affirmative; yes).
First, we see that when the LORD is our Shepherd, we shall not want. We read in John 6:35, that whosoever believeth on Christ shall never hunger and never thirst. Colossians 2:10 tells us that we are complete in Him. Thus, when the Lord is our Shepherd, spiritually speaking, we shall never lack, for we can be satisfied in Him, never lacking any good thing. It does not mean that we will have material gain, but rather spiritually speaking, we lack nothing.
We also see in verse two that sometimes He must make us lie down in green pastures. Sometimes, as sheep, we need to be made to sit down. When the Lord fed the five thousand, He made them sit down in the grass. Sheep need to be stopped and made to be still in the pasture by the shepherd, wherever he leads them.
So too, for us, we so often need to be made to lay down where the Lord has brought us. Paul taught in Philippians,that he had learned that whatsoever state he was in therewith to be content. The Israelites followed a cloud and a pillar of fire. Where the Lord stopped, they had to stay. When the Lord moved, they moved.
Hence, we must learn as the sheep of God’s pasture to stop wrestling with our circumstances and be still and know that He is God in the pasture or situation or circumstance that we are currently in; that He has led us to. Far too often we think the grass is greener on the other side, when the Lord has led us to the pasture that is meat for us; the green pasture where if we would simply meditate on Him we would be more than fed.
Notice too that we must be led beside the still waters. Our Great Shepherd by His Spirit leads us when we walk in the Spirit to the peaceful, still waters which relax us. This is only true if we are being led of the Spirit and not the flesh. When we are led by the flesh, there is no peace, no still waters to enjoy.