The Lord is My Shepherd

By: Zach Collins

If you were to stand on a street corner and poll any number of people by asking them the question, “What is your favorite Psalm?”, or “What is your favorite passage of scripture?”, I believe the answer of many would be Psalm 23. Not only is this psalm one of the most well-known scriptures, but it is also one of the most requested scriptures at funerals for its comforting aspects. The words of Psalm 23 have comforted more griefs to rest and remanded more thieving sorrows to the dungeon than the stars of the universe.  

This psalm was written by David, probably when he was King. Before he was chosen to shepherd God’s people, he remembered the days he spent in the field shepherding sheep and was not ashamed of his former occupation. It was his former occupation that prepared him to fulfill his mission as a servant of the Lord. While many of the Psalms of David are full of complaints, this psalm is full of comfort. As David reflected upon the comfort of being in God’s presence and benefitting from God’s providential ways, his heart was filled with joy unspeakable, and he communicated the grace God had shown him through these words.  

In Psalm 23, David is speaking of God, but what if we applied the picture of the Lord as a “shepherd” to our lives, in Psalm 23? For a moment, let us notice five comforting promises that we can derive from Psalm 23 if we, as sheep, are willing to place our hope and security in the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ (c.f., John 10:11), and follow His lead. 

1.     I shall not lack rest (v. 2). David says, “He makes me to lie down…” It is interesting that this psalm begins with the idea of rest, as Jesus also offers rest (c.f., Matthew 11:28-30). In Isaiah 53, in the portrait of the coming Messiah painted by Isaiah, He pictures Jesus as one who bore our griefs and sorrows before He bore our iniquities (Isaiah 53:4-5).

2.     I shall not lack life (v. 3). David says, “He restores my soul…” He renews my life. He provides me that which I need to sustain the needs of the flock (Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus came that we might have more abundant life (c.f., John 10:10).  

3.     I shall not lack guidance (v. 3). David says, “He leads me…” We need a shepherd who will not only lead His sheep down carefully chosen paths (c.f., John 16:13), we only need a shepherd who will search us out when we have gone astray. 

4.     I shall not lack safety (v. 4). David says, “I will fear no evil…” Sheep are helpless and need protection from the wolf that seeks to scatter them (c.f., John 10:12). My Savior is my protector. He guards His sheep from danger, protecting His children from evil and death (c.f., Luke 1:79). 

5.     I shall not lack a home (v. 6). David says, “…I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” A home encompasses safety, joy, security, rest, and family. All these identifying markers are found in the sheep’s hope of the pasture (John 10:9). Only because of His sacrifice for His sheep will I dwell in the house of the Lord forever (c.f., John 10:11). 

Many have memorized this psalm, even among those who are acquainted with few other scriptural portions. Ministers and Christians alike have used this psalm to comfort the downtrodden souls of those who are experiencing trials, sickness, and sorrow. For some, this psalm contains the last words ever spoken or heard by a soul who has passed from this life. The reason is found in these profound words, which surround our hearts with comfort, “The Lord is My Shepherd.” 

October 27th, 2023