This particular psalm is probably one of the most quoted and loved psalm’s in all of the Bible and all of history. The Psalm before Psalm 23 is known as the Psalm of the Cross. R.C Sproul says, “It is only after we have read, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” that we come to “The Lord is my Shepherd.” We must by experience know the value of blood-shedding, and see the sword awakened against the Shepherd, before we shall be able truly to know the Sweetness of the good Shepherd’s care.” The first verse of Psalm 23 ascribes authorship to King David. David grew up and worked as a shepherd, so he knew a lot about sheep and shepherding. The theme of this psalm shows God as the good shepherd that protects and provides for his flock.
I think this psalm is a confident declaration by King David testifying about the good Shepherd. Interestingly, Psalm 22, 23, and 24 are all known by some as “shepherd psalms”, where the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep as the suffering Servant and King. According to workingpreachers.org, “The Lord — not a foreign god or king — is the only true shepherd of each and every Israelite. We now hear this psalm not merely as a message of comfort on life’s journey, but a theological creed spoken in the midst of our own culture with all of its earthly leaders and “gods” that can never be the Shepherd-King of Psalm 23.”
David starts off with a statement, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” There is a noble tone of confidence about this sentence. David has great assurance and dependence of God’s faithfulness. When the Lord is your Shepherd, He is able to supply your needs, and he is certainly willing to do so, for his heart is full of love, and therefore “I shall not want.” We don’t have to want for anymore because the Lord is my shepherd. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me besides the still waters. He restores my soul and leads me in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake. After researching what a green pasture was during the time of David, I found out that it wasn’t what I thought it was. After resarching photos of what a presumed green pasture looked like in Israel, I was actually very shocked. There were very small spots of green on a very rocky field. It wasnt even close to what I had imagined it to look like.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Here, David is acknowledging that a shadow is simply that, a shadow. A shadow cannot hurt you. He acknowledges that he will fear no evil. David has been cured of the disease of fearing and understands that God has conquered the evil one. “For You are with me”. This is the joy of a Christian! The promise that the living God is with us through every shadow, every trial, every joy, and every victory. “He prepares a table in the presence of my enemies.” The peace which Jehovah gives to His people, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances is a perfect peace. “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.” This is an indisputable but also encouraging fact.
This Psalm can be used in the corporate worship through corporate singing and pastoral teaching. I think it’s a psalm that is greatly loved and appreciated by the church. I think we can use this psalm and the previous psalm to point to the promise of God through Christ our Lord. I beleive that we must cultivate the spirit of assured dependence upon our heavenly Father. I think that looks like continuously singing these ancient psalms in our corporate worship settings.