“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right path for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” Ps 23:1-6
Charles Spurgeon in his Treasury of David described Psalm 23 as “the pearl of psalms whose soft and pure radiance delights every eye...it may be affirmed that its piety and its poetry are equal, its sweetness and its spirituality are unsurpassed”
A friend told me of a much-loved Pastor in Ireland who was retiring. As a tribute his congregation organised a great actor to recite the Pastor’s beloved Psalm 23. The actor gave an inspirational performance greeted with applause. The Pastor then asked if he could read Psalm 23. As he read, however, the whole room was moved, and tears flowed! The difference was the actor knew the Psalm whereas the Pastor knew the Shepherd.
Psalm 23 is the ultimate pastoral song. It has countless times brought comfort to the mourner and hope to the suffering. It’s placing after Psalm 22 is significant. Psalm 22 prophesies the cross and the desperate cry “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” To know and understand that “The Lord is my Shepherd” I must first embrace my need of the Cross. Only through personal salvation in Jesus Christ can I count myself as a sheep belonging to the Good Shepherd. Without this, I remain a goat or worse, a wolf!
This is what that retiring Pastor understood for himself. Once I have responded in repentance and made Jesus Lord of my life, the green pastures and still waters of Psalm 23 become a reality. A sheep is not a wild animal but property. A sheep belongs wholly to its master and a devoted follower of Jesus can confidently declare “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Let’s not forget that the first news of the Messiah was announced by angels to a group of shepherds (Luke 2:8). There is a theme running through scripture of God as a shepherd to his flock leading us to redemption, salvation and green pastures. As we spend seven days in devotion to God through Psalm 23, I pray that both of these powerful truths grip your life and your heart; Jesus is my Lord and the Lord is my Shepherd. Amen!
• Pray afresh at the foot of the Cross of Christ. Thank God for Jesus, repent of anything the Holy Spirit brings to mind and receive again the refreshing forgiveness of a loving Lord. Receive a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit.
• In light of these prayers, read Psalm 23 aloud and dwell on each promise as the words ring out from the perspective of a sheep safe in the care of the Good Shepherd.