Looking into the Psalms (Psalter) is to look into man’s response to God. At their heart is life with the Creator at its centre. They are full of praise and worship but also littered with prayer. They are gritty and practical at times; often poetic and melodic and carrying some of the most powerful prophetic words ever recorded. They fit together in a perfect collection which gives us the basis for worshipping our God. Yet each individual Psalm also has rich and profound messages for us to enjoy, learn from and, of course, apply in our lives.
Psalm 23 is where we start. So familiar, even with non-Christians, because of its beautiful poetry and words of comfort. Yet there is deeper meaning in every verse for those that are willing to seek. The term Shepherd in the days of David meant far more than simply farmer. It was a royal title. The Shepherd-King was a position trusted in nations of the region beyond Israel. Deities and Kings were described in Babylon as “benevolent shepherd” providing “pastures and watering places”. For Israel and, therefore, for us it is Psalm 23 that points us, not only, to a shepherd but to the Good Shepherd. When Jesus proclaimed “I am the Good Shepherd” in John 10, Psalm 23 came alive for us. It’s with that prophetic fulfilment that we can delve into it today and search out hidden treasures that will strengthen, encourage and challenge us to go deeper with God.