This is an excerpt from my Book, “Walking in Christ” and specifically the Chapter, “Walking In Peace and Security.” Over the next week or so, I will be posting the teaching as it deals with Psalm 23 and its significance and importance in a Christian’s life. The Book is available in PDF form by clicking the link, Walking In Christ, or the picture of the Book to the right of this article. It is free for anyone who wants to read it. Again, the download is free.
If you desire to experience the fullness of God’s unfathomable love as one of His children, a study of one of the greatest Psalms, Psalm 23, will help you to understand the depth of the Lord’s love in your life. It is not only an appreciation of the Father’s love that you will walk away with, but a new sense of peace and security. When you know, I mean really know, and not just intellectually, but as it is revealed by the Spirit to your spirit, that you are being held securely in His arms; nothing can or will ever again be able to cause you to stagger.
As Christian’s, we should always look to Christ Jesus as our supreme example. The apostles and disciples were great men who tried to pattern their lives after their Lord, Jesus Christ; we already know Jesus followed the example of the Father.
“Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” -John 5:19-
All scripture from beginning to end, Genesis through Revelation, points to and reveals the character of our Messiah, our Redeemer and our Good Shepherd.
“You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me.” -John 5:39-
We need to understand the Scriptures, but not so much to know ABOUT Jesus, but rather to get to KNOW Him, intimately. After all, history can tell us about Him and His life and the period in which He lived, but to search and meditate upon the Word is to commune with Him, for He IS the Word.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” -John 1:1-2, 14-
The world, which we live in today, knows of Him; ask anyone on the street if they know OF Jesus Christ, and most will tell you yes, but we are able to truly KNOW Him, and be better for it.
A MATTER OF HISTORY
From the very beginning and all throughout scriptures we see prominent biblical figures cast in the roll of a shepherd. It is the most often mentioned occupation in the Bible, and it is evident that the shepherds had a very special place in God’s heart.
Shepherding was very important to the way of life in ancient times. A shepherd often traveled long distances looking for water and green pasture. A shepherd had to not only feed the flock, but to protect it from wild animals as well. A shepherd could learn many lessons just by watching his flock and observing how they acted and behaved. It was no wonder that the Lord likens His children to sheep. Some shepherds had mixed flocks; that is, goats and sheep together. An interesting fact is that while sheep could be led, goats usually had to be herded or driven.
It is not so very surprising then to note that so many examples in Scripture, and so many types and shadows of Jesus and His followers, are identified with shepherds and their flocks. You only have to read the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David to see the examples that God has so graciously set before us.
It is also no wonder that so many of the Old Testament prophets, even up to the time of Christ, used the illustration of a shepherd and his flock to get their messages across to the common people. Even their early history assumes that you understand the aspects of a shepherd’s trade.
We, therefore, should not be surprised in understanding how Israel looked to their religious leaders as shepherds; especially since so many of their great, heroic leaders came from leading flocks of sheep. Even their expectations of a promised Messiah was likened so much to that of a shepherd.
God, as our Father, has always wanted to have a relationship with His children. He created man expressly for that purpose, but man through his sinfulness has lost sight of that primary reason. Man is likened to the sheep that has been lost, and at the very least to the sheep that has strayed. I firmly believe that is why the Old Testament is so rich with illustrations portraying shepherding. The blessings that we derive from these lessons are predominantly due to the fact that they all point to Christ as the perfect example of the Good Shepherd.
The Old Testament writers and prophets lived in expectation of the Promised Christ, the Great and Good Shepherd. We have the ability to live forth their expectations, because the Great and Good Shepherd has arrived! His promised coming has become a reality to us! With His arrival, and His lifestyle example set before us as the perfect pattern of living, we have the ability to see into the heart of God and realize in a very real and intimate way the depth of His love for us, as His children.
A MATTER OF HEART
A good portion of the Psalms was written by King David, himself risen from the occupation of a shepherd. In fact, when God instructed the Prophet Samuel to anoint a new King to replace Saul, David was even then tending his father’s sheep. The Lord told Samuel, He was seeking a man “after His own heart” (Emphasis mine) 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22. This was the man whom the Holy Spirit inspired to write the Psalm of the Good Shepherd, Psalm 23. What better person is there to write about the characteristics of a good shepherd than a good shepherd himself?
- The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
- He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
- He restores my soul; He guides me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.
- Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
- Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
- Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
J.R. Littleproud, a Bible teacher and writer in the early 1900’s wrote a short outline on this great Psalm which to this day is hard to improve upon:
- The secret of a happy life: every need supplied.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
- The secret of a happy death: every fear removed.
“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for You are with me.”
- The secret of a happy eternity: every desire fulfilled.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
- The secret of a happy life: every need supplied.
*While researching all I could concerning Psalm 23, I came across a statement from an unknown source who states how the compound names of Jehovah in the Old Testament reflect the remaining contents of Psalm 23. Again, I am NOT the author of this, but couldn’t pass up adding this inciteful teaching!
- “I shall not want” – Jehovah-Jireh, “the Lord will provide” (Genesis 22:14)
- “still waters”- Jehovah-Shalom, “the Lord our peace” (Judges 6:24)
- “restores my soul” – Jehovah-Rophe, “the Lord who heals” (Exodus 15:26)
- “paths of righteousness”- Jehovah-Tsidkenu, “the Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16)
- “thou art with me” – Jehovah-Shammah, “the Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35)
- “presence of my enemies” – Jehovah-Nissi, “the Lord our banner” (Exodus 17:15)
- “anoint my head” – Jehovah-M’Kaddesh, “the Lord who sanctifies” (Leviticus 20:8)