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.
Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV)
Read: Psalm 23
Consider: Psalm 23 is one of my favourite psalms. It takes me back to childhood and sitting in church hearing it being sung to the tune ‘Crimond’. I can remember when I first heard the modern version by Stuart Townend being sung and being struck by how fresh and new it sounded. The words were basically the same, with the addition of the chorus, but the tune was new. I still enjoy singing it.
The psalm begins ‘The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing’ and ends ‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’. It mainly concentrates upon our earthly life, but it ends in eternity!
The first few verses take in a very pastoral scene; green pastures and quiet waters (v2). As David was a shepherd himself before becoming king, he could relate to this greater shepherd who cared for and looked after him. As a shepherd protects and cares for the sheep, so David understands that God looks after us.
It is significant that in verse 2 David acknowledges that God provides refreshment for the soul. While physical refreshment is important, spiritual refreshment is more important and can be found in God alone. In our society today people search for meaning in all kinds of things, but fail to see the source of true meaning and contentment – God.
Psalm 23 is often used at funerals, principally because of verse 4 where it says ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me’. Here David acknowledges that even when facing major difficulties (e.g. ill health), or death, then God is there with us at these times. We do not face things alone. Not only does David say that God is there, he also says that he provides comfort (v4).
So the message of the psalm is that God is with us in good times and bad. He isn’t there as a silent companion, but as one who is alongside us providing security, protection, care, guidance and comfort.
Pray: Father, we thank you that you are with us in all aspects of life, guiding our steps and giving us comfort when needed. May we see you as our greater Shepherd, fulfilled in your Son, Jesus Christ who told us that he is the Good Shepherd. Amen