Psalm 23 – Who Is God?

 

I.      In Psalm 23, David speaks of God as shepherd, God as guide, God as Provider, God as protector. Remember David? He was a shepherd, a warrior, a musician, a king. This was a man who was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). This was a man appointed by God to be the leader of Israel after Saul chose to not do as God wanted. Though He would at times not follow God as He should have, though David would have to suffer for some of His choices, David had a special relationship with God. So he was uniquely qualified to share insights into God. Lets move on the to the text now so that we can share in his insights.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 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 goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

 

II.    Verse one begins with the statement “The Lord is my shepherd.”  David’s use of “the Lord” shows David knew that God was his sovereign. David knew God was in charge of him. To David, a shepherd was more than someone who managed sheep. Remember, David had been a shepherd as a child. He intimately and personally knew the things that a shepherd does for the sheep for which they care. A shepherd protects. A shepherd guides his sheep. A shepherd ensures his sheep have everything they need: food, water, protection from predators. A shepherd does the hard things to ensure the best for his charges. David viewed God like that. He knew God as someone who cared for his sheep. But more, David knew God was HIS shepherd, that God took care of him. Do you know God as the one in charge of your life?

 

a.     The verse continues, “I shall not be in want.” Knowing that shepherds make sure their sheep get what they need, David saw God as someone who would provide what was needed. David trusted God to give him what he needed. Do you?  

 

III.  Verse two says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.  The image here is of a loving shepherd knowing what his sheep need  when they need it, and making sure they get it – regardless of whether that is the need for rest, or food, or drink or relaxation. God interacts with, and works in, His creation to guide those He loves. Sometimes He makes things happen, and sometimes he leads. Either way, God can always be trusted to do what His people need. But more than that, God can also be trusted to know WHAT you need and WHEN you need it. Are you trusting God? Are you relying on God for what you need in life and in the afterlife?

 

IV. Verse 3 reads, “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. More than providing what is needed and when, God restores us from the effects of our sins. Our sins might be fun or not fun, but they always have an effect on us. This tends to lead us more and more towards a lifestyle of sin. But God sets us on the right path. God God show us how to live correctly. God shows us how to live as He would have us live. God restores us – He forgives and heals us – so that He can get the glory – He wants people to know that He forgives, that He provides, that He leads. In short, God wants people to know HE loves them. Are you accepting the forgiveness of God? Are you embracing what God has done and is doing and will do?

 

V.   Verse 4 states, “Even though I walk  through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;  your rod and your staff,  they comfort me.  The rod was a club short enough to be carried at the belt.  The staff was a walking stick that doubled as a weapon when needed (1 Sam 17:35) and was most often used to guide and control the sheep.  The imagery is of walking in the shadow of a cliff in a valley, protected by someone who constantly watches for danger – whether that danger might come from outside the flock or from the sheep itself. One does not need to worry that a wolf or cougar will jump out and catch him by the throat. We do not have to worry the enemy will catch us. God always protects His sheep. Note, this is not saying that the sheep do not face danger – sheep sometimes get attacked, but the shepherd will fight to defend His sheep. God actively works not only to provide and guide and restore His sheep, but to protect His people – even from themselves. Imagine having GOD on your side. Imagine having the one who created everything on your side. Imagine having the one who ensures everything works on your side. GOD protect His sheep. Are you one of His sheep or do you not belong to God?

 

VI. Verse 5 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” The imagery here is not only one where God provides in times of danger, but He sets a banquet in the face of danger. God did exactly that with the Last Supper. In the face of the worst danger, God set a table to end all tables. At the end of which, God provided the ultimate for His sheep – God provided the Lamb to pay the ultimate price so that those who accept Him as Savior can go to live with Him. Because of Him, all us those who would believe are blessed. Are you blessed with eternal life?

 

VII.        The psalmist finished the psalm with verse 6, which reads, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. “ Because of what God is and what He has done, David will have the goodness of God and the Love of God all his life. David knows what God has done, is doing, and will do is why he will be with God forever. This is the case for anyone who accepts Christ as savior. If you accept the gift of God, you are saved. If you accept that Jesus died to pay the price of your sins, then you too will have God’s goodness and love with you forever – you too will have eternal life, dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.

 

VIII.      Remember, God shepherds those of His flock. God loves those in the world. God cares for and watches over and guides those who belong to Him. God protects those who belong to Him. God restores those who belong to Him. God blesses His children. God works to be sure that those who accept what He has done have the right and ability to call Him father. Indeed, by trusting in Christ, we are saved and our souls restored. Are you a child of God? Has God saved you? Is God protecting you? Is God your guide? Is God restoring your soul? Remember, God loves you. He wants you to be his sheep. God wants to care for you and look out for you and protect you and restore you and bless you. God wants a relationship with you. If you don’t have one with Christ, then its time to start it. If you have accepted Jesus as savior, then be sure you continue to grow and mature in your ability to communicate with God and obey Him.


All scripture comes from The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Ps 23:1). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Matthews, V. H., Chavalas, M. W., & Walton, J. H. (2000). The IVP Bible background commentary : Old Testament (electronic ed.) (Ps 23:4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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