As a young boy David tended his father’s sheep. (1 Sam 16:11) In the night watches he learned many valuable lessons for both life and his walk with the Lord. His encounters with the lion and bear prepared him for Goliath. Being anointed King by Samuel only to be sent back to the fields, taught him to trust God’s word even when his circumstances didn’t seem to line up with it.
The skills David learned shepherding his father’s flocks proved invaluable when the time came for him to lead God’s people. Many years later David uses his deep understanding rooted in his experiences in the valleys and in the shadows of death which surrounded him, to illustrate how God cares for His children in Psalm 23.
Psalm 23 has brought comfort to both believers and the lost as they read it and are able to personalize it.
I began writing to simply explore Psalm 23 and get a better understanding of it. But, as I wrote my thought processes began to morph and I have deleted much more than I’ve written. My thoughts meandered and I left the academic and gradually arrived at a destination that was not on my itinerary, a very personal place of rest which was God’s plan before I even began this journey.
I was reminded of my personal night watches and lessons learned and many still forming. Encounters, not with lions and bears, but with people. Encounters which have prepared me for different legs of my life journey, were brought into focus with understanding. An anointing received, yet to be realized. And I am learning to trust God even when I don’t understand.
This post is the first of a three-part series on Psalm 23.
Let the reading begin!
Psalm 23 – A PSALM OF DAVID
The Lord is MY Shepherd (vvs 1-2)
The LORD is MY shepherd, I shall not want. (vs. 1)
The Sovereign God, the covenant keeping God, the God of Israel is also a personal God who promises to take care of His people.
In fact, as one of His sheep I will want for nothing! I will not want for
Because I am in covenant with God, I never have to worry when I follow the Great Shepherd; He WILL protect me and provide for me!
Because the Lord was David’s Shepherd, his needs were met. When the Lord is MY Shepherd, I have whatever I need; and if I don’t have everything I desire, I can rest knowing it is either not beneficial for me, or the time is not right for me to have it.
MY Shepherd is THE GREAT Shepherd!
I need to remember that.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. (vs. 2)
It seems that sheep are stubborn. They don’t have enough sense to know when to lie down to rest, so there are times that the shepherd makes them lie down in the lush green pastures where the sheep don’t have to move from place to place to be satisfied. Sheep have been known to stay in one place and eat until they eat down to the dirt. So, a good shepherd moves them to green pastures where they don’t have to search for food to eat and they can rest.
I am a lot like those stubborn sheep! I don’t know when to rest and often I go from here to there looking to be satisfied. There is always something else that needs to be done, ministry opportunities which need to be taken, relationships needing to be nourished and the list goes on and on! I stay in those fields of opportunity grazing until before I realize I have become parched and dry!
As God’s child I can find spiritual food in the green pastures of God’s Word. It is milk for babies, pasture for sheep, never barren, never eaten bare, never parched, but always a green pasture. (Heb 5:12-14)
Personally, I am in the Word on a daily basis – reading it, writing it, speaking it – yet at times I forget to feed on it.
It is at those times that God makes me to lie down in the green pasture of His word – feasting on its abundance, drinking in its healing and wisdom, gaining new strength.
Since I am so blessed with the green pastures of His Word, I need to be careful not to miss what God has for me there. I need to be intentional and not simply “run through” the fields of His Word but lay down in them and take up residence – rest in them.
It is there that I become quiet and content in my heart and mind, no matter what is raging around me. I can rest in Him.
I need to remember that.
He leads me beside quiet waters. (vs 2)
I have read that sheep are afraid of moving water. The least bit of movement and they will not approach the water; however, sheep will drink from still waters. A good shepherd leads his sheep beside the still waters. They are guided and led well. Not downstream, upstream or anywhere the waters are not still.
When life is swirling around me and I am pulled into its drama I become frenzied, fighting to overcome the rip tide that is pulling me away from my goal! In those times I long for a quieter place, a more peaceful pool where I can breathe without gasping for air, rest and not struggle to get to my destination. Only the Great Shepherd leads me to those waters – all I need to do is follow His leading.
I need to remember that.
As I said earlier this is part 1 of a 3-part series. You don’t want to miss the rest of the story!
Something to think about
Throughout the years the twenty third psalm has comforted people from all walks of life, in the most difficult circumstances. And why shouldn’t it? David writes from the heart about the lessons he learned during his night watches shepherding his father’s sheep.
David proclaims, “The Lord is MY Shepherd!” with an emphasis on “MY.” Alone in the fields all those nights gave him plenty of personal time with God. It was there that David grew in his understanding of who God is and his relationship with Him.
So much of our confusion and pain comes as a result of not knowing God — who He really is, how He works in our lives. Unfortunately, too often we spend more time reading books written by men and women about things in the Bible, listening to podcasts of great preachers and teachers rather than spending time alone with the Lord, reading His Word for ourselves. In a sense, we are eating “already been chewed food”, devoid of the nourishment which is essential for spiritual growth and a godly lifestyle, rather than feasting at His table.
The only way to truly KNOW God is by reading the Bible, spending time in prayer and obeying what God says. When you know God more fully, you’ll gain power to stand strong in even the most difficult and unpredictable circumstances. You’ll find strength for times of trial, comfort for pain, and provision for your soul’s deepest needs. You too will be able to say, “The Lord is MY shepherd!”