Psalm 23:1-4 ” 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 valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
This passage speaks of green pastures and quiet waters as well as the darkest valley, evil and enemies.
It is one thing to say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want” and quite another to be in a dark valley in life and to hold that promise close to your heart with confidence and know that the Lord is with you.
Psalm 23 is a well-known and well-loved psalm and one of my favourites too.
David is identified as the author of this psalm and he so beautifully expresses his confidence in God. There is a surety in his statement as he begins the psalm by saying “The Lord IS my shepherd.” There is no doubt here, there is not a maybe or probably, only certainty that He IS my shepherd.
We then get a glimpse into the kind of relationship he has with God, a very personal one, when he says MY shepherd. Our God is a personal God, He loves each one of us, know us intimately, cares for every little detail in our lives and wants a relationship with us.
Spurgeon writes that to call the Lord your SHEPHERD, you have to first realise that you are a sheep. An acute sense that you cannot do anything without your shepherd, completely dependent on Him, with a foolish tendency to wander and when in trouble, are completely helpless and have to wait for your shepherd to rescue you.
When David calls the Lord his SHEPHERD, there is an acknowledgement that he is the Lord’s sheep, entirely dependent on the Lord for everything. An acknowledgement of whom he belongs to. Because the sheep belong to the shepherd, their master. And the same way, we are HIS.
The Lord is my shepherd, I LACK NOTHING. When you consider the shepherd from the vantage point of the sheep, the shepherd is the provider, protector, carer and master. A good shepherd is all a sheep needs because the good shepherd will look after every single need of the sheep. All of our needs can be met only with the Lord and may we choose to desire no more than what the Lord gives. We must remember that this does not mean that we can have all that we possibly desire but trust that the Lord knows what is best for us and he will provide according to His wisdom and grace.
Psalm 23:2-3 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.
These verses describe God’s care, leading, rest and restoration. There is a sense of God’s comfort, care and peace. And provision of His spiritual nourishment, rest and restoration.
The shepherd leads the sheep, the sheep do not know where to find green pastures or quiet waters, all they need to do is, fix their eyes on the shepherd with complete faith that where he leads is the best and then follow. What a comfort and privilege it is to have God’s leading, we can be confident of that. We are led through paths of righteousness, to grow in our faith and obedience to display the glory of His grace.
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
There will be times when we are in the dark valley but scripture reassures us that when you are going through it, you are not alone, God is with you.
And you are walking through, yes through this valley. The valley is NOT your final destination or dwelling place. God will lead you through it building you up as you submit to Him. You walk through and not run in a panic because you are with your shepherd, your mighty God and heavenly Father is right there with you.
And the darkest valley, also referred to as the valley of the shadow of death is scary and it is where you feel surrounded by huge mountains of your problems and you struggle to see a way out. You cannot see anything around you, there is only one place to look and that is UP, to our LORD. In the dark valley the Lord is your light. Let Him lead you.
Shadow of death – death in its substance has been removed through Christ. Only a shadow remains. You get a shadow only if there is a light somewhere. That light is Jesus. A shadow can scare you, instil fear, but look beyond to the light. A shadow CANNOT stop or block you in your path.
God’s presence will take away your fear for David writes “I will Fear no evil for your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
The staff and rod were neither tools for punishment but was rather used to protect and for comfort. The staff was used by the shepherd to keep the sheep safe and prevent them from wandering away or falling. And the rod was a short stick of leather used to keep flies and pests away.
David did not fear, he was confident of God’s presence, protection and care and was comforted by that.
We are in HIS firm grip.
When we find ourselves in a dark valley, may we hold this psalm close to our hearts, fix our eyes on Him, have the assurance that HE is close and trust in His leading and say with confidence that HE IS MY SHEPHERD, I shall not be in want.
What a wonderful God we serve. Praise HIM.