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 paths 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 forever. – Psalm
The purpose of this message is to help us to more clearly understand the imagery used to
convey comfort and calm to the soul of those who are a part of God’s flock by faith in Jesus
Christ. Additionally, we will explore new ways in which the truth of this psalm can be applied to
our lives. Furthermore, since we are all to be shepherds of God’s flock in the broadest sense,
we can learn a great deal not only about our Shepherd, but also about shepherding.
Please enjoy and pass it on to others!
23:1. My Shepherd. Using a metaphor (i.e., figurative language, word picture, symbol found in
the OT. David compares God to a shepherd in order to draw a mental picture that reflects God’s
great love for His people. The Lord Jesus uses the same metaphor to express His relationship to
His followers. Two truths are presented here:
- The depth of God’s love for His children causes Him to protect, guide and be near each
one, just as a good shepherd does for his own sheep. But God’s highest expression of
love and devotion was shown through the life and death of His Son, Jesus. God
continues to exercise His guidance and care over our lives through the Holy Spirit.
- Believers are the Lord’s sheep. We belong to Him and receive His special affection and
attention. Though “we all, like sheep, have gone astray”, the Lord has rescued and
liberated us from the eternal consequences of our own rebellious way through the shed
blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died for our sin. We now belong to Him, and as
His sheep we can respond to His voice and follow Him. The present tense verb “is”
means “the Lord is shepherding me,” indicating an ongoing relationship.
23:1. I SHALL NOT BE IN WANT. To “not be in want” means:
- That those who follow God will not lack anything necessary for God’s purpose to be
accomplished in their lives.
- That they will be content with how the Good Shepherd cares and provides for them,
even in times of personal hardship, because they trust His love and commitment to
23:2. HE MAKES ME LIE DOWN. Because of the presence and nearness of the Shepherd, God’s
sheep (i.e., His people) can “lie down” in peace and be free from all fear. Jesus, as the Son of
God, came to bring this same promise to those who would follow Him. The Holy Spirit as the
Comforter, Counsellor and Helper communicates Christ’s care and presence to each believer.
Confidence and peaceful rest will be “in green pastures,” (a figure of speech for what makes a
person grow and thrive in life). True growth and life come from a personal relationship with
Jesus and the Word of God, which are necessary for a truly fulfilling life.
“He leads .. beside quiet waters,” which represent the peace, life and refreshment of the Holy
23.3. HE RESTORES MY SOUL. When God’s children become discouraged, the Good Shepherd
revives and re-energizes their souls through His power and goodness. “He guides” by the Spirit
of God in His chosen paths, which put God’s children on a course to fulfill His perfect purposes
for their lives. Obedience is the response of the sheep: we follow the Shepherd and listen to His
voice. We will not follow “a stranger’s voice”.
23.4. YOU ARE WITH ME. In times of danger, difficulty and even death, those who follow God
fear no evil. Why? “For you are with me” in every situation of life. The “rod: (i.e., a short club) is
both a weapon of defense against predators and an instrument of discipline for the sheep. It
symbolizes God’s strength, power and authority. The “staff” (i.e., a long slender stick with a
hook on the end) is used to bring a sheep close to the shepherd, guide it in the right way or
rescue it from trouble. God’s rod and staff reassures us of God’s love and guidance in our lives.
23.5. PREPARE A TABLE. God cares for the needs of each of His children, even as evil forces
attempt to destroy his or her life or soul.
Confronted daily by Satan and surrounded by an ungodly society, God sustains believers
physically and spiritually. He gives us what we need so that we can live and enjoy His presence.
The Shepherd, Jesus, who laid down His life for His own sheep, has made this available.
“Anoint my head with oil: refers to a practice provided for honoured guests at a banquet. This
speaks of God’s special favour and blessing through the anointing (refreshing, empowering) of
His Holy Spirit on the body, mind and spirit.
“My cup overflows” literally translates, “My cup is an abundant drink. It probably refers to a
shepherd’s cup, which was a large, hollowed-out stone that could hold forty or fifty gallons and
from which the sheep drank.
23.6. GOODNESS AND LOVE. With the Shepherd staying with us through life’s journey, we will
receive constant guidance, help, kindness and support. No matter what happens, we can trust
God to work for our good in all circumstances. The goal in following the Shepherd and
experiencing His goodness and love is that one day we will be with the Lord forever, see His
face and serve Him forever.
“The LORD” is Yahweh GOD, the covenant-making God of Israel. The compound names of
Yahweh in the Old Testament reflect the contents of the Psalm.
- “I have all that I need” – Yahweh Yireh, “the LORD will provide” (Gen. 22:14)
- “Peaceful streams” – Yahweh Shalom, “the LORD is peace (Judges 6:24)
- “Renews my strength” – Yahweh Rapha, “the LORD who heals” (Exodus 15:26)
- “Right paths” – Yahweh Tsidqenu, “the LORD is our righteousness” (Jer. 33:16)
- “You are close beside me” – Yahweh-Shammah, “the LORD is there” (Ezekiel
- “In the presence of my enemies” – Yahweh-nissi, “the LORD is my banner”
- “Anointing my head” – Yahweh- M’Qadash, “the LORD who makes you holy”
David’s sheep view of God guides us into the most intimate relationship that a creature can
have with his or her Creator.
Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sundays 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays
5:30 am; and YFM 107.9 – Sundays 6.30am; for our Radio Bible Study as well as Sunny FM
88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymns and their Stories.