Summary: Israel knew God primarily by His power and holiness, but in Psalm 23, they learn of His personal love and compassion.
A. WHY IS THIS THE FAVORITE PSALM?
1. Easy to memorize. These six verses are a short “self-contained” picture of our relationship with God.
2. Intimate fellowship. Promises God’s comfort and protection when we remain close to the Shepherd.
3. Personalized identification. Demonstrates how our spiritual needs are met in the Lord.
4. It’s a story. Has action, testimony, characterization and plot.
5. Tells about the Lord. Israel knew God primarily by His power and holiness, but in Psalm 23, they learn of His personal love and compassion.
B. THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD.
1. What is meant, if you don’t call him Lord?
a. If He is called God, Elohim, i.e., creative power, it implies an impersonal mighty Being. But this Psalm is about relationship.
b. If He is called Master, Adonai, i.e., it implies slaves to serve. But we are sheep to be cared for by the Lord.
c. If He is called King, Rock, Fortress, Almighty, or Holy One, it implies impersonal terms. But the term Lord is a term of personal relationship meaning you can get close to Him.
2. What does the word “is” imply?
a. Some only testify to past experiences with God, i.e., Duncan Campbell. “The Lord was my Shepherd.”
b. Some only plan to get close to the Lord-Shepherd in the future, i.e., the Lord will be my Shepherd.
3. What two things can I count on when you use the verb “IS”?
a. Right now. The Lord will care and protect you today.
b. Right here. You don’t have to go some place else to get into the Shepherd’s care.
4. What would it mean if the pronoun my were left out?
a. The Lord is a shepherd, means He is one among many. Who or what is your shepherd? Job? Family? Retirement fund?
b. The Lord is the shepherd means He has the priority, but He is not personal. “The shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
c. The Lord is our shepherd means He relates to me in a crowd. “I’m only one among many.”
5. Why are we likened to sheep?
a. Stray. “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isa. 53:6). “What man having a hundred sheep, if he lost one . . . will go after that which was lost” (Luke 15:4).
b. Satisfy self. Sheep will only eat what is in front of them.
c. No sense of danger. Sheep have no instinct to warn them of snakes, wolves, bears, parasites, etc.
d. Defenseless. Sheep have no weapons to defend themselves, no claws, teeth, fangs, etc. “The wolf catcheth them” (John 10:12).
e. Dumb. “As a sheep before a shearer is dumb” (Isa. 53:7).
f. Target of the enemy. “Grievous wolves shall enter, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29).
6. Why is the Lord likened to a shepherd?
a. He knows us. “I am the good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14).
b. He relates to us. “He calleth His own sheep by name and leadeth them out and when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice” (John 10:3-4).
c. He loves the sheep. “He (Jesus) was moved with compassion on them, because they were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).
d. He provides for the sheep. “I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
f. He protects the sheep. “Thy servant (David) kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: and I went after him . . . and caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him” (I Sam. 17:34-35).
g. He feeds the sheep. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies” (Ps. 23:5).
C. I SHALL NOT WANT.
1. What does the word “shall” mean to me?
a. Purpose of the will. I can make definite plans about the future. This is a word of intention.
b. Faith-desire. I expect the Lord to take care of me. “Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matt 21:22).
c. Future state. I know the Lord will care for me. “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (I Thess. 5:24).
2. What shall we “not want?”
a. What are the four greatest “wants” in life?
(1) Love me. “He gave His love to us” (Rom. 5:8).
(2) Accept me. “He that comes to me, I will not cast out” (John 6:37).