The Lord Is My Shepherd
During my years in the pastorate, it came as no surprise that the 23rd Psalm is the most well-known of all the psalms. Virtually everyone finds comfort in the message. The psalm inspires hope. Most espousing a Judeo-Christian worldview can quote parts or the entirety from memory. That familiarity, however, can divert us from the deep and amazing truths captured in the 23rd Psalm.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Imagine yourself sitting across the table from King David. He’s earnestly discussing his relationship with God. He’s not throwing around abstract theological concepts in monotone disconnect. He’s the king of Israel passionately speaking to you from personal experience. He’s relating his own personal journey of living the life of faith.
David’s introductory comment is remarkable: “the Lord is my Shepherd” (v. 1). The name transcribed “Lord” is YaHWeH commonly pronounced Jehovah in English. Yahweh is the one name God uniquely revealed to the nation of Israel. (1)
God Himself is David’s shepherd. All that David requires is available through the Lord. Like a sheep dependent upon the shepherd, he expresses complete confidence in Jehovah. The life of faith was an experiential reality for David.
David’s life had not been easy. He had known loneliness as a shepherd. He had experienced the fear of battle. He had faced injustice when forced to spend a significant period of his adult life dodging Saul’s relentless attempts to kill him.
Sitting in his palace, David could reflect on life and emphatically and unequivocally state, Jehovah is my Shepherd. That truth was at the core of his being, governed every area of his life and described how he chose to live. Through every experience, David knew God was leading. He was assured God was providing. He was confident God was protecting.
There was no doubt in David’s mind that the Lord could be trusted to do what was best. Following his assertion that “the Lord is my shepherd,” David concludes with the profound analysis, “I shall not want” (v. 1). David couldn’t have stated this truth more forcefully. In today’s vernacular, he declares, “what more could I want?” David lacked nothing. With Jehovah as his shepherd, he was absolutely and utterly content.
It’s easy to think of Psalm 23 as a heartwarming pick-me-up when discouraged, disillusioned or out of sorts. Others relegate this powerful psalm to a bygone era irrelevant to life in the 21st century. In reality, the 23rd Psalm is the quintessential guide for living the life of faith in any era, but especially for Christians living near the end of the Church Age.
Look beyond the familiar and hear David speak. The Lord wants to be your shepherd. He wants you to follow Him. Deciding to follow the Lord is the starting point for anyone choosing to live the life of faith. Then, like David, you will experience everyday life in the presence of the Shepherd.
1) Le Bon Pasteur. (Photo credit: Attributed to Philippe de Champaigne. [CC BY-SA 4.0]/Wikimedia/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
1) In other passages, the Bible couples the name Jehovah with His attributes:
- Jehovah Rapha—God who heals (Ps. 30:2).
- Jehovah Jireh—God who sees and provides (Gen. 22:14).
- Jehovah Shalom—Jehovah our peace (Jud. 6:24).
- Jehovah Tsidkaynu—Jehovah our righteousness (Jer. 33:16).
- Jehovah Tsabaoth –Jehovah (LORD) of hosts (1 Sam. 17:45).
- Jehovah Osaynu—Jehovah our Maker (Ps. 95:6).
Copyright © Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.