Psalm 23 is the best known and most beloved psalm in the collection. Surprisingly, it casts humanity as sheep—stupid, helpless sheep. But the long-lasting appeal of Psalm 23 is a direct result of that casting because the imagery is both soothing and accessible.
When he was a boy, King David was a shepherd watching his father’s flocks in the hills around Bethlehem. In those days, too, it was common to refer to kings in the Near East as shepherds; but not all shepherd-kings cared for their sheep. Though David tried to shepherd his people well, he knew the truth: the Eternal is the true Shepherd.
In John 10:11 Jesus makes a bold claim. He declares that He is the good shepherd. Immediately His disciples detected the resonance of Psalm 23 in His words. Those of us who follow Jesus today come to know Him as that gentle but strong shepherd who guides us through life if we will follow Him.
1 The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always. 2 He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water. He soothes my fears; 3 He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name.
4 Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness, I am not overcome by fear. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted.
5 You spread out a table before me, provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies; You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil, filling my cup again and again with Your grace. 6 Certainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me where I go, always, everywhere. I will always be with the Eternal, in Your house forever.
Eternal One: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will reveal My holiness through them with all the nations watching. They will live in their own land—the land I gave to My servant, Jacob. 26 They will live safely there, building houses and planting vineyards. They will live safely there when I punish all of their neighbors who mocked them and treated them shamefully. Then they will know that I am the Eternal their God.
29 Don’t reduce your life to the pursuit of food and drink; don’t let your mind be filled with anxiety. 30 People of the world who don’t know God pursue these things, but you have a Father caring for you, a Father who knows all your needs.
31 Since you don’t need to worry—about security and safety, about food and clothing—then pursue God’s kingdom first and foremost, and these other things will come to you as well.
32 My little flock, don’t be afraid. God is your Father, and your Father’s great joy is to give you His kingdom.
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