The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
What is your favorite passage of scripture? For me, I have long been particularly fond of the 23rd Psalm. According to BibleGateway.com, the 23rd Psalm was the second most viewed bible verse last year. It was preceded by 1 Corinthians 13 that we looked back in February, the Love month. A quick Google search indicates that Psalm 23 ranks at or near the top of all favorite scripture lists.
In my grandmother’s living room there was a bright red vinyl chair with a matching footstool. It was on that footstool that I memorized my first scripture verses, The Lord’s Prayer and then Psalm 23. Both have proven to be invaluable to me as I have navigated through life. When I learned the 23rd Psalm it was David’s story but through the years it has also become my life story.
David wrote Psalm 23 at a time when he was in great danger as he was being hunted by King Saul. He speaks of God’s blessings and provision in the midst of his crisis. Despite adversity God was supernaturally caring for him and he was confident that God’s care would continue forever. I think that is why Psalm 23 has meant so much to me. I can relate to God’s provision in the midst of hardship, and I know that there is no way that I could have survived without God.
In David’s introductory words, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” I am reminded of Jesus’ statement in John 10:11 where He says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” He did, in fact, give His life that we might “dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”(Psalm 23:6) Then in John 10:14 Jesus asserts, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” Jesus makes it clear that knowing God comes out of a genuine relationship, not just because “the bible tells us so,” but because we know Him and He knows us. We have experienced His power and presence and seen His work in our lives.
Despite the odds of life that have been stacked against you, you know that you “shall not be in want.”(v1) He has and will meet your needs. In the midst of chaos He provides the comfort and peace of “green pastures” and “still waters.”(v2) When you are broken you can say with all confidence that “He restores my soul.”(v3) With difficulties closing in all about you He still keeps you headed on “paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (v3b)
When you are at your weakest and lowest, as you “walk through the valley of the shadow of death”(v4), He takes away your fear. “I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”(4b) Knowing that He is with you gives you strength to keep going because you know you are not alone. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”(2 Co 12:9)
Even as enemies rise up all around you and the forces of evil are stacked against you, God continues to bless you. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”(v5) He lovingly “anoints” your “head with oil”(v5b) and against all odds He lavishes great blessings upon you as your “cup overflows.”(v5c)
There then is but one conclusion. You will always be the recipient of His “goodness and love” and know it will be bestowed upon you forever, “all the days of (your) my life.”(v6) And when life on this earth is ended you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you “will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”(v6b)
Psalm 23 means so much because it helps us to see God. We can say to David, “Amen! I know what you mean. You are right in all that you say. God is so real. The Lord really is my shepherd.”
For more on this topic, check out this article: Take Inventory of Your Rich Inheritance in Christ
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.