Psalm 23 – This One Never Gets Old

If the Lord is Your Shepherd (Psalm 23), then Your Well-being is Ultimately His Responsibility

Psalm 23 is a timeless classic. Even if you have never been around sheep, you can appreciate the simple Shepherd metaphor used by David over three thousand years ago, and then again by Jesus in John 10.

Here’s how Psalm 23 begins,

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want...”

Chances are, after hearing the first verse, you can continue with it from memory. Maybe not perfectly, but you can probably recite the parts about “green pastures” and “still waters” and “the valley of the shadow of death.”

For some reason, this one just sticks with us.

Maybe it is because of its soothing, comforting effect on the soul? Most funeral services will include a reading of Psalm 23, because when we are scared and grieving it just has a way of assuring us that everything’s going to be alright. The scene of a faithful shepherd with his sheep somehow captures our imagination and helps us grasp what it means to have a relationship with God.

But one of the things I appreciate most about Psalm 23 is that it is true to life. As the psalm describes, sometimes life is green pastures and still waters, but other times life involves deep, dark valleys. This is real. When David says the Shepherd “restores my soul,” (v. 3) the implication is that he was at a place where he needed to be restored. Before the Shepherd restored him, he was diminished and empty. This is real. When David says “you prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies” (v. 5), that means not everyone was David’s friend and ally. He lived in the same space with adversaries. This, too, is real.

Having a relationship with Jesus, the Good Shepherd, does not mean that life always looks like one of those peaceful scenes in a painting. The reality is that sometimes life with the Shepherd looks like an anxiety-filled hospital waiting room, or an ominous MRI, or the funeral of someone we cherish.

So where is the Shepherd in these situations? Look closely:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me.

Today you might be in a sweet spot with green pastures or, on the other hand, you may be in a dreaded valley that is full of shadows. Either way, you can be encouraged my friend because the Shepherd is with you.

This is real.

It’s a new day with God. Run with it.


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