Psalm 23 is one of the most well-known Psalms in the Bible, yet because it is read and said over and over, it is easy to overlook the profound power found within its words. Psalm 23 was not written for anyone, nor to anyone, nor to encourage all who read it nor to describe or highlight attributes of God. No. When David penned the words, “The Lord is my Shepherd…” he was speaking something profound about himself, that still speaks today.
Psalm 23 is poetic and filled with peaceful imagery, but, in reality, there’s nothing peaceful about being a shepherd- it’s difficult, messy work! But the spiritual principles that David expressed in Psalm 23 will strengthen your own faith.
The first few words David wrote in this poetic testimony are significant and they are the necessary foundation of all the promises the Lord is speaking to you in Psalm 23.
“The Lord is my Shepherd” is the First Step
Without the words “the Lord is my Shepherd”, nothing else in Psalm 23 can fully apply to the life you live and the experiences you’ll walk through on your journey. Why? Because David’s words hinge on the fundamental principal that the Lord was the One to provide, lead and guide, protect, redirect, restore, comfort and stay close.
As a shepherd himself, David’s entire life was built around the experience of handling sheep- and he understood nature of God as both a Lion and a Lamb, and the fierce and gentle love of the Lord for his life. His hope was in the Lord, even when the valley of the shadow of death seemed endless, and when the enemy drew near.
David knew how the Lord would handle a sheep- and how the Lord would handle predator.
Today, take time and read Psalm 23 this way – line by line – and let the Lord open your heart and mind to a fresh understanding of what it looks like when the Lord is your shepherd:
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – I shall not want.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He makes me lie down in green pastures;
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He leads me beside still waters.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He restores my soul.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – Even though I walk through the dark valley, I don’t have to be afraid of evil overtaking me.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He is with me.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – His rod and His staff, they comfort me.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – He anoints my head with oil.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – My cup runs over.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd” – I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
When the Lord is your shepherd, you invite Him to not only lead you and quiet you and restore you, protect and defend you, provide for you and bless you, but also to discipline you as needed, to withdraw you from harm, to fence you in for your protection, to convict and admonish and advise you. Is the Lord your Shepherd?
“God doesn’t make Himself your shepherd. You must invite Him to shepherd you and then allow Him to operate freely within that role.”~Alicia Purdy
Read Psalm 23 again, line by line. Think about each word – Is the Lord your Shepherd in each of those areas of your life? What does that look like for you right now? God won’t make Himself your shepherd. You must invite Him to shepherd you and then allow Him to operate freely within that role.
David wrote “The Lord is my Shepherd” with intention because he knew exactly what it meant. If the Lord is your Shepherd, the then the rest of Psalm 23 is true for you too!
Thought for today: If the Lord is Your Shepherd, You can Trust His Leading
Psalm 23 is a powerful statement of faith, mixed with experience. David wrote about his experiences in life based upon the life-changing decision he made when he determined that the Lord would be his shepherd.
By declaring that, “The LORD is my Shepherd” meant David would no longer lead himself. As you know, David spent many years as a shepherd, so he fully understood what his life would look like – in both good times and bad – with the Lord as his shepherd.
David knew exactly how a shepherd would handle sheep and he trusted the Lord and made the intentional, deliberate choice to invite the Lord to shepherd him. Was it always easy? No! David made many mistakes.
He walked “through the valley of the shadow of death”. He had enemies all around at times, but he believed in faith that the right hand of the Lord would uphold him and he knew God was a Man of His Word.
Making the Lord your shepherd isn’t a one-time invitation. It is a daily state of existence. There will always be predators. There will always be temptations to wander off. When you’ve messed up, invite the Lord to shepherd you.
In the moments of your struggle, invite the Lord to shepherd you again. When you don’t know which way to go, or which choice to make, invite the Lord to lead and guide you like a good shepherd would do, even if it isn’t in the way you would have chosen.
“The Lord is my Shepherd,” David wrote, “I shall lack no good thing.” (NIV) When the Lord is your shepherd, that is your promise too.
Find Courage to Invite the Lord into your situation today:
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