Summary: A look at verse 1 of Psalm 23
First Baptist Church
August 13, 2006
Is there anything you want? Of course there is —
Maybe you want a new car . . . or a new house . . . or new friends . . . to lose weight . . . to become taller . . . you want a better job . . . you want financial success . . . you want new clothes . . . you want to get out of debt . . . you want more toys or gadgets . . . you want peace in your life . . . you want rest for your weary soul and body . . . you want someone to care about you . . . you want love and romance . . . you want self-confidence . . . you want health . . . you want to believe that God loves you . . . we want and we want and we can fill in the never ending blanks.
We can make a list that will never end of the things we want in our lives. Nobody is exempt from wanting. If you say you have no wants, you aren’t telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Even if you say you have no needs, you really aren’t telling the whole story. We all have needs, it just may be that we don’t like to admit them.
Two weeks ago we started to take a look at Psalm 23 through the eyes of a shepherd. We caught a glimpse of what a shepherd’s life is like. Today and for the next few weeks we’re going to take a detailed look at what the most famous of psalms says to our hearts that yearn for the Good Shepherd. There are going to be times where I am going to take passages as a whole and other times, like today, where I am going to take verses word by word, just so we can really understand why this psalm touches our hearts so much.
So, let’s get into verse 1, what does “The Lord is my Shepherd” really mean?
Let’s start our with the name of God. Why is God called Lord? What did David mean by that and how does that help us in our lives?
In Hebrew, if we call God, by the name Elohim, which is the basic name of God, it implies an impersonal, but mighty God. But this psalm is all about relationship. If we call God Adonai, or Master, it implies slaves to serve. But we are sheep to be cared for by the Lord. If we call God — King, Rock, Fortress, Almighty, or Holy One, those can also be impersonal phrases.
The word LORD speaks of a personal relationship. David is referring to the personal God, a God who knows you and a God who you know. It is the way God introduced Himself to Moses when Moses asked for God’s name. God told Moses, I AM WHO I AM. In Hebrew, it’s Yahweh. We translate it LORD. And you will notice it is the only name of God which is entirely capitalized. Look in any Bible and when you see God’s name referred to as LORD, it is always, always capitalized. Psalm 110:1 is a great example, as David says, “The LORD says to me Lord.”
So, we learn that the name LORD means God is a personal God, He seeks to have a personal relationship with us. This is important for us because we want God to be personal, we don’t want an impersonal and distant God, we want and in fact, we need Him to be personal. When Jesus refers to the disciples as friends, it demonstrates the personal relationship we can experience.
In Revelation 3, when Jesus said, 20 “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” This invitation is not from an impersonal God, but from a God who seeks a relationship with you and I.
Now, we’re going to get really picky, and this is important for us. This is really what makes Psalm 23 come alive for us.
What does the word “IS” imply?
I know, I know, you’re thinking I’ve been studying too much about this psalm. But work with me for a moment.
Some people will only testify to past experiences with God, that is, they say, “The Lord was my Shepherd.” Or some only plan to get close to the Shepherd in the future, they say, “the Lord will be my Shepherd. Or we can speak about a benign Shepherd, when we say, ‘the Lord can be a Shepherd.’ But whose Shepherd is He? He IS my Shepherd.