Tag Archive for Psalm 23

Our Shepherd Forever

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Revelation 7:9-17

When God’s timeless purposes are complete, when He has done in Christ everything He ever wanted to do for His people, what will our relationship with Him be?

They are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from the eyes. (Revelation 7:15-17, NASB)

Psalm 23:1 will be full reality for each of God’s people.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. (NIV)

As the Good Shepherd, the glorified Christ will pasture them:

They will hunger no longer. (Revelation 7:16a, NASB) 

He will lead them “beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:2b, NASB):

“…nor will they thirst anymore…for the Lamb…will guide them to springs of the water of life.” (Revelation 7:16-17, NASB)

He will meet their every need in full measure: 

God will wipe every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:17b, NASB)

As the Good Shepherd, God Himself will be their shelter and protection:

They are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. (Revelation 7:15, NASB)

He will be with His flock personally, constantly, completely, and forever. “The Lord is my Shepherd.” What a beautiful picture of God’s love!

Psalm 23: Provision in Threatening Times

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I 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 have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:4-6, NASB)

Psalm 23:4-6 draws a beautiful picture of God shepherding His people even through the most difficult times, in the valley of deepest shadows, with enemies all around. When the need is the greatest, God is not just a shepherd, providing for basic necessities. He is also a banquet host. We are His guests at His feast and thus are under His protection.

Psalm 78 draws a similar picture as it retells the story of the Exodus. Verse 52 says that for forty years God shepherded His people through the wilderness.

He led forth His own people like sheep
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock. (Psalm 78:52, NASB)

But in that harsh and ungiving place, God was more than a shepherd. With His people engulfed in need, with no other source of supply, God hosted them at a rich banquet.

“Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?”
Behold, He struck the rock so that waters gushed out…
He rained down manna upon them to eat
And gave them food from heaven.
Man did eat the bread of angels;
He sent them food in abundance…
He rained meat upon them…
So they ate and were well filled. (Psalm 78:19-20, 24-25, 27, 29a, NASB) 

Psalm 23:5 then goes beyond the provision of abundant food. At such banquets, the host would often anoint the head of his guests with oil, as an indication of prosperity and rejoicing. In Luke 7:46, Jesus refers to this kind of anointing as standard practice.

Here at the end of Psalm 23, the whole picture is one of God’s favor, prosperity, abundance, and joy, even while deepest darkness is all around.

Life will have its valleys…its darkness…its death…its enemies…its difficulties. But God’s care for His sheep does not change. Light or darkness, pleasure or pain, His goodness and His unfailing love will follow us every day of our lives, and the end will be an eternity with Him.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Psalm of Trust
Printed Music & Lyrics

Psalm 23: I Shall Not Want

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read Psalm 23:1

For most of us, when we think of God as our Shepherd, one scripture passage comes to mind: Psalm 23. For Old Testament Jews, this picture of God as Shepherd would have been rich with associations.

  • It would have reminded them of the Exodus, when God shepherded His people for forty years through an empty wilderness, faithfully providing for their every need.

He led forth His own people like sheep
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock;
He led them safely, so that they did not fear. (Psalm 78:52-53, NASB)

  • It would have reminded them of King David, a simple shepherd who led Israel to their golden age as a nation.

But for me, it’s the personal flavor of the language that draws me. It’s so warm and simple. With most Old Testament references to God as Shepherd, God’s people are the flock. But here, the Lord is MY Shepherd. That gives this psalm its unique appeal.

If the Sovereign, loving God of all reality is my shepherd, what is the logical result?

I shall not want. (v.1b, NASB)

If God Himself is my Shepherd, my perfect Guide and Provider, I will lack nothing. How could I?

  • He is complete in love. He always wants what is best for us.
  • He is complete in wisdom. He always knows what is best for us.
  • He is complete in power. He is able to do all that is best for us.

Of course, our lacking nothing is measured by His perfect wisdom, not by our fear or greed. He supplies everything we need, though not everything we may want. And this sufficiency in Him extends to every area of life, including the demands of holiness in this evil world: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3, NIV).

The opening words of this Psalm are so very familiar: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1, NASB). But what peace would they bring if we could live in them constantly and completely?

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Lord, Why Am I Anxious?
Printed Music & Lyrics

He Is Our Shepherd, We Are His Sheep

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read Psalm 100

Considering a shepherd’s responsibilities, it’s no wonder God calls Himself our Shepherd. What a beautiful picture of Him! He constantly cares for our every need. He takes personal responsibility for every aspect of our safety and well-being. It’s humble and thankless work, but He does it eagerly, carefully, thoroughly. He is both strong and gentle, rugged and patient.

Kings and other leaders were to serve as good shepherds of God’s people. Shepherding was the standard against which God measured them.

Israel had a long tradition of shepherds. The father of the Jewish people, Abraham, had flocks, as did his son, Isaac. Isaac’s son, Jacob, worked as a shepherd from his earliest days. Jacob’s sons, the patriarchs of the tribes of Israel, were shepherds as well.

Moses spent forty years shepherding the flocks of his father-in-law, Jethro, through a vast wilderness. This was God’s preparation for him to lead his people, Israel, for forty years through the same wilderness.

God’s preparation for David, the greatest king of Israel, was shepherding as well. More on him to come.

When God’s only-begotten Son arrived among us after centuries of promises, who were the only ones who got a special invitation?

Shepherds living out in the fields…keeping watch over their flocks at night. (Luke 2:8, NIV)

There’s another major reason that God considers Himself our shepherd and calls His leaders to be good shepherds. We, God’s people, are so much like sheep. We are utterly dependent on Him for existence, for provision, for welfare and survival. We are constantly, deeply needy. We live our entire existence in the presence and care of the Good Shepherd. We are prone to wander away from our Shepherd’s protection. And when we do, we are easy prey. We are defenseless.

God is your shepherd. Stay close to Him.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: The Father’s Gifts
Printed Music & Lyrics

The Life of a Shepherd

from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD

Read Psalm 95

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1, NASB)

Imagine the daily life and work of a shepherd.

They lived in tents. But lack of rainfall meant lots of moving around during the summer season. They often had to be away from their home base for days or weeks.

They carried a large leather bag which contained all their food and daily supplies. A large staff or stick, sometimes with a knob on the end, was used both as a club and as a walking stick, very helpful over rough, uneven ground. Like David, some shepherds were rather good with a slingshot, since it provided effective, portable protection. It was a way to ward off predators from a distance.

Shepherds had to stay ready for emergencies. If a sheep was injured, they were its only source of medical help. Sheep got so focused on grazing, with their head staying down, that they often wandered off. A sheep was so valuable that it had to be found. The shepherd would leave the rest of the flock and look until the lost sheep was located and returned (see Luke 15:4-7).

The days were long. The nights were long. The life was lonely. Some shepherds made music on a hand-made reed pipe. Many entertained themselves by talking to the sheep, and thus the sheep grew to recognize their shepherd’s voice. He had to keep constant count of them, sometimes even calling them by name (see John 10:3).

Good shepherds would never kill and eat their sheep, no matter how hungry. Shepherds had to be strong and resourceful for times of danger, yet keep a gentle, caring, patient disposition. At night, after gathering the sheep into a fold for protection, he would guard the opening with his own body (see John 10:7-9).

Good shepherds worked hard for little pay and less respect. They did strenuous and important work.

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, NASB)