A FAITHFUL SHEPHERD
Loving Father, forgive me for my small faith, narrow vision, and spiritual blindness.
Read PSALM 23
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
- Psalm 23:4 Or the valley of the shadow of death
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
How may you make such a well-known psalm fresh in your life?
At one level, it feels pretentious to try and create a fresh angle on this best known of psalms! It is fairly straightforward to see it talking of God as a shepherd (vs 1,2), a traveling companion on a difficult journey (vs 3,4) and a host guaranteeing security in challenging times (vs 5,6). The Lord owns me, provides for me, refreshes me in dry times, guides me when the way is not clear, is my companion when going through sufferings, and is my eternal security. All wonderful truths which we should ask God to make real and fresh, however long we have been Christians.
Another way of looking at this psalm is to see it as the prayer of Jesus as he faced ‘the valley of the shadow of death’ (v 4, KJV).1 Believers look forward to entering the house of the Lord forever, but it was only Jesus who returned to heaven as one who came from there.2 One may see these verses as the song of the Messiah who would suffer before being glorified. We can gain comfort as we walk that valley with and in him. Jesus declares that all his experiences are the result of the personal shepherding of the Lord. He is guided back to his Father, the loving Shepherd, who is to be trusted as the one who knows best and provides guidance and comfort.
If we see these words as Jesus’ description of his Father, we may take courage for our own journey through life. Christ has walked the path before us, as the obedient Son of the Father. Our hope is not so much that we might die trusting, but that he has died well. May we be encouraged to let Christ’s vision of his Father be ours.
May we see how Jesus made this psalm his own. Whatever we face, we can know Jesus is the loving Shepherd, to be trusted in all circumstances.
Dear Lord, my Shepherd, companion, and host. Because of you and your goodness to me I lack nothing, fear no evil, and know one day you will lead me safely home.
1 See Glen Scrivener, Reading Between the Lines – Old Testament Daily Readings, 10Publishing, 2018, p312–318 2 John 3:13
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