“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake” (Psalm 23:1-3).
The 23rd Psalm written by King David is one of the most quoted Scriptures as well it should be. This psalm reminds the followers of God of some very important truths which bring comfort to their souls. First, the psalm begins with the statement: “The Lord is my shepherd”. Although David was a great leader himself, he acknowledged he needed guidance from the Lord. He describes himself as being a sheep and the Lord as being his Shepherd. One of the key steps for a person must take in his or her spiritual growth is to acknowledge the need of God’s help and guidance through the journey of life. God will not force Himself upon us, but He will eagerly guide us if we welcome Him, as did David, as our “Shepherd”.
As our Shepherd, God is very capable. He provides the “green pastures” in which we need to rest and the “still waters” from which we need to drink (Psalm 23:2). When my soul is downtrodden by the trials and cares of life, He gently “restores my soul” as He continually “leads me in the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3). The picture in this psalm is that of a sheep that is well nourished and cared for because he is not left on his own to provide these things for himself, but rather his care is in the hands of a skillful Shepherd who has made sure all these things are provided for him as well as the other sheep under the Shepherd’s care.
Having his well-being placed in the hands of such a Shepherd gives one great confidence to face the adversities of life. Knowing his Shepherd was watching over him ready to throw his rod at any preying wolves who might threaten his life or using His staff to lift him up should he wander off and fall in any dangerous places, helped David not to fear any evil even though he had to walk through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4). Even in the face of his enemies, David knew God’s provision for him would be with such abundance that he says, “My cup runs over” (Psalm 23:5). David did not view God’s care for him as being just enough for him to get by in life, but rather his Shepherd’s attention to his needs would be with such overflowing abundance that “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”. David pictures himself as a sheep enjoying God’s watchful care over him today, and confidently facing the future as he knows his Shepherd will guide him to his ultimate destination so he may “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
Is this how I view God’s care of me in my life? Do I have the kind of peace in my life which David enjoyed as he trusted in God to shepherd his soul through this life or is my heart weighed down with worry because instead of relying on God I am relying on myself or others? In our day and age, there is a strong emphasis on self-reliance. With this comes the temptation to trust in self and forget we need guidance. Today, I will rejoice that the Lord is My Shepherd. My confidence is fully in Him to guide me and I will let His peace reign in my life as I confidently say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6)!
“I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:14-16).