The twenty–third Psalm
has been called "the pearl of the Psalms," and the
"nightingale" singing in the dark night of
The key idea in this
great Psalm is because the Lord is my shepherd, I
shall not lack anything. It pictures God in love
with His people as a kind, loving and caring
shepherd. Because the LORD is my Shepherd, He
provides rest and guidance, protection, food and
fellowship. He provides for all of my basic needs in
Our Psalm easily falls
into two halves with both having the general thought
of God’s secure care, but with different
illustrations and applications. In the first half
(verses 1–3), Jehovah is our Shepherd and we are the
sheep of His pasture. In the second part Jehovah is
our Host, and we are the guest at His table and
residents in His home.
There is no reason to
doubt the Hebrew Psalmist David is the author of
this majestic poem. Suggestions abound as to what
time in David's life he composed it, but it is hard
to determine exactly the setting. Some scholars
suggest it was when he was a lad tending his
father's flock. Others suggest later in life as a
mature man who has walked with his Shepherd through
many a dark valley.
When I examine this
lovely Hebrew song in detail, I have the firm
conviction that it reaches a perfect climax in the
person and work of Jesus Christ. I see in the
character of the Shepherd the sweet fragrance of the
Lord Jesus Christ. This Psalm may not be strictly
Messianic in its prediction of the coming of Jesus
the Messiah, but in its ideas, expressions, and
applications it points to the Good Shepherd who is
the Messiah. Let's ponder together the beauty of the
Psalm and the life and work of the Good Shepherd,
who is also the Great Shepherd resurrected and
dwelling in heaven and the Chief Shepherd who will
return for His sheep.
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah
spoke of the coming day when "the Lord God will come
with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His
reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm
He will gather the lambs, and carry them in His
bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes" (Isa.
40:10–11). Another Hebrew prophet Ezekiel in similar
vane saw the coming of "one shepherd, My servant
David, and he will feed them; he will feed them
himself and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will
be their God, and My servant David will be prince
among them; I, the LORD have spoken" (Ezekiel
34:23–24). Keep in mind that king David had been
dead six hundred years when Ezekiel was writing this
prophecy! The prophet is speaking of a greater than
David, the Messiah who will come and shepherd His
JESUS IS THE GOOD
SHEPHERD WHO LEADS AND GUIDES HIS SHEEP (23:1–3).
"The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1). There is security in
the presence of the good shepherd. Our Psalmist
dares to reach out and call Jehovah his very own
Shepherd. It is intimately personal. His God is a
personal, loving Father. He is my Shepherd!
David uses the name
Yahweh (Jehovah, LORD) who is always seen as
absolutely faithful to His people. He has a vibrant,
living faith in the LORD God. Therefore he can say
just as God is faithful in meeting his present needs
God will also meet all his needs in the future. He
will never "suffer any want." Just as the good
shepherd provides all that his sheep needs, the LORD
will provide all that His sheep needs. With the Lord
as his Shepherd, he confidently looks to the future.
Why if you possess the LORD, who possesses all
things, then you lack nothing.
Because the LORD is my
shepherd I shall not lack any provision in the needs
of my life.
Kyle Yates expressed it
eloquently: "Because He loves me as the good
Shepherd, I shall never want for rest, refreshment,
sustenance, forgiveness, restoration, fellowship,
guidance, deliverance from fear, comfort in sorrow,
victory over enemies, security in troublous hours,
joy in the Lord, power for service, or a home at the
end of the earthly journey" (Preaching from the
Psalms, pp. 66).
In the Hebrew Old
Testament God the Father is designated as "The
Shepherd of Israel." He is the Pastor of the Jewish
nation. When Jesus declared Himself "the Good
Shepherd" in John 10:11 the Jewish people knew that
He was claiming to be Jehovah–in–the–flesh.
The Good Shepherd Jesus
Christ has all the shepherd qualities and
characteristics described in Psalm 23. He is the
great I AM. The Good Shepherd of John 10 is the
Jehovah Shepherd of Psalm 23. Jesus of Nazareth is
the absolute timeless, eternal, independent,
self–sustained, pre–existent One. He is the great I
AM (John 8:58).
One seasoned, veteran
missionary in Africa once said, "God always heard
the scraping of the bottom of the barrel," and He
always provided the necessities of life. That was
also true in the Apostle Paul's personal life. He
found the LORD faithful and true in his prison cell
in Rome. He wrote to a faithful church in Philippi
the words of encouragement, "My God shall supply all
your needs according to His riches in glory in
Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
The Apostle Paul reminded
the young pastor Timothy to, "Instruct those who are
rich in this present world not to be conceited or to
fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on
God, who richly supplies us with all things to
enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17). It does us good to remind
ourselves often who it is that provides us with our
job opportunities and earthly goods lest we become
arrogant. With the resurrected Christ empowering his
daily life Paul knew he could depend on Him. "I can
do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens
me" (Philippians 4:13).
Have you found Him to be
true in your daily life? Can you shout with Paul's
great doxology these words in Ephesians 3:20–21?
"Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly
beyond all that we ask or think, according to the
power that works within us, to Him be the glory in
the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations
forever and ever. Amen." He is faithful to do
exceedingly abundantly above and beyond all that we
Because the LORD is my
Shepherd I shall not lack nourishment and rest.
The Shepherd can be
depended upon to provide nourishment and rest. "He
maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth
me beside the still waters" (v. 2). The imagery is
of sheep moving around grazing during the morning
hours. They have found enough grass to make them
full, and now they are tired and need to rest. The
shepherd causes them to lie down in the grassy
meadows with a sufficient water supply. When rest
becomes imperative for us He supplies it. The
parallel line reinforces the same thought. He finds
a safe place for the sheep to rest beside the still
waters. What is pictured by the psalmist is
nourishment, safety and a peaceful resting place for
Do you find yourself
needing the "bread of life"? Have you come hungering
and thirsting for that which the world can never
satisfy? Have you come like the woman at the well in
Samaria to the "water of life"? Jesus said to the
woman, "whoever drinks of the water that I shall
give him shall never thirst; but the water that I
shall give him shall become in him a well of water
springing up to eternal life" (John 4:14). The
"water of life" makes Himself available to us with
refreshing rivers that bubble up within us. Again
Jesus said, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to
Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall
never thirst" (John 6:35). On the last day of the
Feast of the Tabernacles "Jesus stood and cried out,
saying, 'If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me
and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture
said, "From his innermost being shall flow rivers of
living water."' But this He spoke of the Spirit,
whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for
the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not
yet glorified" (John 7:37–39).
As we feed on Christ in
His Word we see Him, eat Him and drink Him. He is
our spiritual food. It is the responsibility of the
sheep to appropriate the spiritual food daily.
Not only does He lead me
to spiritual nourishment and needed rest, but He
forgives me and restores my soul.
Because the Lord is my
Shepherd I shall not lack forgiveness and
The shepherd as a guide
now appears. "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in
the paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (v.
3). The emphasis of the verse is on the
righteousness of God. God always leads men into His
righteousness. His reputation and character are at
stake. It is "for His name's sake." His character
and reputation must be upheld. Just as the Lord
Jesus is a perfect example of the character of God,
so we His followers are to become like our model.
The Psalmist uses an
interesting word signifying "to bring back the soul
that is as it were flown away, so that it comes to
itself again, therefore to impart new life" (Keil
and Delitzsch, Psalms, p. 1081). "This He
does to the soul, by causing it admist the dryness
and heat of temptation and trouble, to taste the
very essence of life which refreshes and strengthens
We are like wayward sheep
wandering about aimlessly. Isaiah 53:6 describes us
spiritually. "All of us like sheep have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD
has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."
Are you in the need of
His restoration, reconciliation and revival? Come to
His fountain for cleansing. First John 1:9 is the
secret. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and
righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us
from all unrighteousness." God reconciles us to
Himself based on the death of Christ. "Much more
then, having now been justified by His blood, we
shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to
God through the death of His Son, much more, having
been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And
not only this, but we also exult in God through our
Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received
the reconciliation" (Romans 5:9–11).
The God of grace sets
before us prodigals the fatted calf! He gives me
back my life.
Remember how Jesus
restored Peter after He rose from the dead? The
Apostle Peter was acutely aware of God's forgiveness
and restoration. He wrote, "Seeing that His divine
power has granted to us everything pertaining to
life and godliness, through the true knowledge of
Him who called us by His own glory and excellence"
(2 Peter 1:3).
We have a gracious
Shepherd who provides forgiveness, peace and
reconciliation to God. "There is therefore now no
condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"
Because the LORD is
my Shepherd I shall not lack a right relationship
Do you hunger for
righteousness? Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "But seek
first His kingdom and His righteousness . . . ." He
restores my soul. He revives, reinvigorates, and
brings the soul back to itself. Jesus uses the same
analogy in Luke 15:3-7. The Good Shepherd goes in
search of the one lost sheep. He puts the
ninety–nine sheep in a safe open pasture and
continues to go out and look until he has found the
one which is lost. "And when he has found it, he
lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing." He calls his
friends in and says to them, "Rejoice with me, for I
have found my sheep which was lost!" Jesus
concluded, "I tell you that in the same way, there
will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who
repents, than over ninety–nine righteous persons who
need no repentance."
This is exactly what the
Good Shepherd did for us unrighteous sheep! Jesus
said, "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd
lays down His life for the sheep. He added, "I am
the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own
know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the
Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And I
have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must
bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and
they shall become one flock with one shepherd. For
this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down
My life that I may take it again. No one has taken
it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own
initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I
have authority to take it up again. This commandment
I received from My Father" (John 10:11, 14–18).
The Good Shepherd has in
intimate, love relationship with His sheep (John
His relationship with His
sheep is compared to the relationship with His
Father. The "knowledge" is one of intimacy. It is
personal first hand experiential knowledge. In verse
15 the Father and Son have an intimate personal
knowledge. It is a close relationship. Verse 14
tells us the Good Shepherd has the same kind of
relationship with us! It is a mutual relationship "I
know My own, and My own know Me."
The Apostle Paul applies
this great truth to us when he says, "He (God) made
Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,
that we might become the righteousness of God in
Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
We have a loving, caring
Shepherd who guarantees a right relationship with
Not only is the Shepherd
the one who leads and guides, but He is also the
Shepherd who is our host.
JESUS IS THE SHEPHERD
WHO SERVES AS A GRACIOUS HOST (23:4–6)
Because the LORD is
my Shepherd I shall not lack for a constant friend.
The abiding presence of
the Shepherd is the emphasis in verse four. "Thou
art with me." "Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for
Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort
me" (v. 4).
When we fail and feel
beaten down and done in our Good Shepherd comes to
our side to demonstrate His changeless love and
faithfulness. When we feel like all the music has
gone out of our lives He gives us songs in the
night. When we lay shattered in the dust He holds us
in the palm of His hand. Nothing in life, death,
pain, disappointment can separate us from our
"But in all these things
we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor
angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor
things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other created thing, shall be able to
separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:37-39).
Before ascending into
heaven Jesus reassured His disciples, "Surely, I am
with you always, even to the end of the age"
(Matthew 28:20). I shall never lack a constant
companion in this life. If our priorities are
correct we need not worry, "for He Himself has said,
"I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE
YOU," so that we confidently say, "THE LORD IS MY
HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT SHALL MAN DO TO
ME?" (Hebrews 13:5–6).
Because the LORD is
my Shepherd I shall not lack encouragement and hope.
The "valley of the shadow
of death" is literally "valley of deep darkness."
The Hebrew word does not refer to death, but is much
broader and includes all the profound dark bitter
experiences in life including death. It represents
the deepest valleys you go through in life. God’s
comfort is with us in all kinds of darkness in life.
The psalmist is picturing those experiences in life
when sorrow and disease, disappointment and
distress, pain and anguish of the soul make the
heart break under its heavy load. He abides with us
to comfort us in the valley of depression, serious
illness, rejection, disloyalty, death of a spouse or
loved one, even the experience of death itself.
Jesus reminds us there is
no dark valley at death for the believer. Jesus
conquered death. Only the one who is the
Resurrection and the Life can take us by the hand
and lead us into eternal life. Every individual who
has put his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and
Savior will "dwell in the house of the Lord for
ever." Jesus said to his friend Martha, "I am the
resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me
shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives
and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe
this?" (John 11:25–26). The Apostle Paul was
awaiting word from Nero as to whether he would be
set free or be put to death. He expressed his faith
in the resurrection of Christ when he wrote from his
prison cell in Rome, "For to me, to live is Christ,
and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). The Good
Shepherd is my constant companion in life and death.
Because the LORD is
my Shepherd I shall not lack leadership and
What are we to do when
the heart is breaking and the deep dark shadows of
life gather about us, when the sun refuses to shine
on us and our tears flow without end? Like the
psalmist, we are to remind ourselves, "Thou art with
"Thy rod and Thy staff,
they comfort me." What are some of the deep dark
valleys you are going through today? Our Shepherd
walks through the valley hand in hand with us. He
drives away the enemy with His rod, and He guides us
with His staff. Talk about security! The Apostle
Paul acknowledges this and brought to mind numerous
experiences and the Lord's abiding presence in
Romans 8:31ff. The Lord who is all knowing can give
Because the LORD is
my Shepherd I shall not lack honor and respect.
The enemies of the
Psalmist look on helplessly while he is the honored
guest at a magnificent banquet given by a gracious
host. His enemies can only look on quietly as the
host anoints him with sweet perfume. "Thou preparest
a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth
over" (v. 5).
In David's day, the
banquet table was a large piece of leather on which
food was set. His enemies were seated at the same
banquet helpless as his host anoints him.
The shepherd carried a
flask of oil to anoint the scratched face of the
sheep. Our gracious Shepherd comes to us in our dire
need and anoints us with His healing touch as the
Great Physician. He comes with healing in His wings.
We have been invited to
sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb when
Christ returns for His bride (Revelation 19:9). What
a banquet that will be! His name will be vindicated
and He will be glorified.
Because the LORD is
my Shepherd I shall not lack joy and abundant life.
My cup overflows. Our
kind Shepherd spreads a table of abundance before us
every day. God provides even to the excess. There is
no lack of provision. It runs over the rim. My cup
runs over the brim. He fills my cup brimful. There
is fullness even to excess. He more than supplies
everything I need. What a God we worship!
We come like the prodigal
son or the lost sheep and realize the Lord’s calf is
always the fatted calf. His robe is always the
finest robe. The joy He gives is always
inexpressible. His peace is always beyond
understanding. It is grace added to more grace.
Grace upon grace results in a cup that is constantly
Jesus said, "I came that
they might have life, and might have it abundantly"
(John 10:10b). The idea is, "I came that they may
keep on having life, and might keep on having it
till it overflows in super abundant surplus!"
Because the LORD is
my Shepherd I shall not lack contentment.
"Surely goodness and
mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I
will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever" (v.
I am a constant companion
with "goodness and lovingkindness." It is not "I
shall pursue good," but "they [the goodness and
lovingkindness] will pursue me." "They will follow,"
means, literally, "they will pursue." Goodness and
lovingkindness pursue me like two good sheep dogs
that operate all the days of my life. They are
unchangeable and constant. Goodness is God's giving
what we don't deserve. Mercy is His withholding what
we deserve. Goodness supplies our every want; mercy
forgives us of every sin. Goodness to provide; mercy
to pardon. "The LORD is good; His mercy is
everlasting." God is merciful. He acts in mercy
toward us every day of our lives. Through the death
of Jesus Christ our penalty for all our sins was
paid in full. The blood of Jesus covers all our
sins. God in mercy forgives and cleanses us. It
should cause our hearts to rejoice and overflow with
Because the LORD is
my Shepherd, I shall not lack assurance of eternal
"And I will dwell in the
house of the LORD forever." Unbroken, eternal
fellowship with God! What fellowship! What joy
Heaven is a place where
we will be in eternal fellowship with our
Shepherd–King Jesus Christ. Jesus promised, "Let not
your hearts be troubled . . . I go to prepare a
place for you. And if I go . . . I will come again,
and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there
you may be also" (John 14:1–3). "The LORD is my
shepherd . . . . I will dwell in the house of the
Will you dwell in the
house of the LORD forever? The only way we can
possibly enter into His house is because He loved us
so much that He gave His own Son as a sacrifice for
us. He took our place on the cross and died in our
place. Because we are radically depraved sinners it
took the precious blood of the Son of God to pay the
Because He died for us we
receive eternal life through faith in Him as our
crucified and risen Savior. The condition of our
salvation is faith in Jesus Christ. The real ground
of our redemption is the blood of Christ. The Good
Shepherd died and rose again for us. The moment we
believe on Him as our Savior He lives in us.
God the Father took the
initiative in our salvation. He is the source of our
salvation. God the Son is the channel through which
it comes to us. God the Holy Spirit is the agent who
makes it successful in us.
Indeed, this is the only
way we can live the Christian life. Our Shepherd has
provided all we ever need. As we hand over to Him
our needs, He graciously hands over to us the
provision. All we have to do is acknowledge our need
and surrender it to Him. I exchange my need for His
abundant provision. Please keep in mind it all
begins with a spiritual birth the moment you place
your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
Though He is in heaven,
the Great Shepherd is still seen caring for His
sheep (Hebrews 13:20).
"Now the God of peace,
who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of
the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant,
even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing
to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing
in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the
glory forever and ever. Amen."
He has risen from the
dead and He has "equipped you in every good thing to
do His will. He "works in us to do that which is
pleasing in His sight." It is all done to glorify
Him forever and ever.
The Chief Shepherd is
going to make Himself visible one day.
"And when the Chief
Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading
crown of glory" (1 Peter 5:4)
The word for "appear"
means "to make visible, clear, manifest, know, to
uncover, to lay bear, reveal." One day He is coming
and every eye will see Him. It will be at awards day
in heaven. He will honor those who have been "good
and faithful." It is another trophy of grace.
Undershepherds will "receive the unfading crown of
glory." It will not be a bouquet of flowers that
will fade and die. It won't be a wreath that will
fade away in a day or two. It won't be the applause
of men that diminishes. It will be an eternal crown
BECAUSE THE LORD IS MY
Because The LORD is my
I shall not lack any
provision of needs in my life.
Because He makes me lie
down in green pastures,
I shall not lack
Because He leads me
beside quiet waters,
I shall not lack rest.
Because He restores my
I shall not lack
forgiveness and reconciliation.
Because He guides me in
the paths of righteousness for His name sake,
I shall not lack a right
relationship with God.
Because I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil,
I shall not lack
encouragement and hope.
Because Thou art with me,
I shall not lack for a
constant companion and friend.
Because Thy rod and Thy
staff comfort me,
I shall not lack guidance
Because Thou preparest a
table before me in the presence of my enemies,
I shall not lack honor
Because Thou hast
anointed my head with oil,
I shall not lack power
Because My cup overflows,
I shall not lack joy, and
Because goodness and
lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my
I shall not lack
Because I dwell in the
house of the LORD forever,
I shall not lack
assurance of eternal security.
Title: Psalm 23 The
Lord is My Shepherd
Christ in the Old Testament