Jesus the Good Shepherd: Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:1-6 NIV)
A shepherd is a person who tends sheep and makes sure they are well-fed, taken care of, and are comfortable at all times. Jesus is our shepherd as Psalm23:1 states and he makes sure we never lack anything in life. He is always ready to lead us in the right direction and watch over our every step.
Jesus is the good shepherd because he always has our best interests at heart. In good and bad times, he is always with us and never leaves our side. Like sheep, we can trust in his care and provision for our lives. In John 10:11, Jesus says he is the good shepherd and that he lays down his life for his sheep. When Jesus died on the cross, he gave up his life for us so that we may live. It was his life for ours.
We Know the Shepherd’s Voice
As the sheep of Christ, we know him because he lives in our hearts. When we listen to his voice, we become familiar with it, and that is why we can follow him (John 10:27). Because we know his voice, we don’t follow a stranger’s voice. Since we know the voice of Jesus whispering in our hearts, we can follow him when he leads us to green pastures and quiet waters. He always knows how to refresh our souls. He knows when we need to feed and rest.
As the good shepherd, Jesus speaks to each of us in a language we understand. Whether he is speaking through a still small voice, nature, dreams, visions, or other people, we can recognize his voice. He guides us through the many ways he speaks to us.
What Does the Good Shepherd Do for Us?
To better understand the role of Jesus as our shepherd, we can look at Psalm 23 in sections.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. (Psalm 23:1)
God provides for all our needs so that we can live the abundant life that Jesus came to give us (John 10:10). This part of Psalm 23 reminds us that we depend on God to provide for all our needs. He does this through his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). When we trust God to meet our needs, we will not lack anything, even the smallest things. He ensures we have an abundance that we can share with others.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. (Psalm 23:2-3)
As a good shepherd, Jesus leads us to places where we can feed on his word so that he can nourish us spiritually. Green pastures are places where sheep feed and rest. We find rest, peace, and tranquility in God alone.
When God leads you to quiet waters, it is to refresh you when you get weary. The issues you have to deal with every day can cause you a lot of fatigue. When you come before God at the end of your day, he refreshes you and prepares you for the next one.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)
God desires that we walk in the right path in life. The world has many distractions to offer us, and sometimes we go astray and get lost. As the good shepherd, he gently leads us back on the right path so that we can walk in his righteousness. By following Christ every day, you bring glory and honor to his name because you are living by his commands.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
When you are going through difficult and dark times, you have the assurance that God is always with you. You don’t need to fear because he will protect you. He has promised you in Joshua 1:9 to be with you wherever you go. It doesn’t matter how much evil surrounds you because God will be right there with you, watching over you.
The shepherd’s rod is to scare away predators, and his staff is to guide the sheep in the right direction when they go astray. We can rest because Jesus will take care of our enemies and watch over us daily.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. (Psalm 23:5)
Your enemies are those who don’t want to see you prosper and may even sabotage your efforts to succeed in what you are doing. God knows how to show your enemies that he looks after you, even exalting you in their presence. This means they get to see the wonders God is doing in your life and which they can’t stop.
In Psalm 18:48, we see that God delivers us from our enemies and lifts us higher than those who rise against us. We don’t need to fear our enemies but trust that God will protect us from their attacks upon our lives. God also hopes that your enemies will turn to him for salvation.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5)
Having your head anointed with oil is a sign of God’s blessing and favor. He prepares you for great things in your life. Your cup will always overflow with the goodness of God in your life. God will refresh you and make you overflow so that you can refresh the lives of others.
The prophet Samuel anointed David with oil according to God’s instruction. This was a sign that David was to be king, and God was preparing him for the journey (1 Samuel 16:12-13). Because of God’s anointing, David was a mighty king and warrior.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6)
As believers of Jesus, we can rejoice because his goodness and unfailing love will be with us all our lives. We will be with him even after we die. Jesus gives us eternal life when we believe in him (John 3:16). While we are on earth, we enjoy an abundant life and know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. We are citizens of heaven, and this means we will dwell with the Lord forever.
As you meditate on Psalm 23, remember that when you follow Jesus, the good shepherd, you will never walk in darkness.
The Lord is my shepherd. He gives me everything I need.
He lets me lie down in fields of green grass. He leads me beside quiet waters.
He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths for the honor of his name.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid. You are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me right in front of my enemies. You pour oil on my head. My cup runs over.
I am sure that your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. And I will live in the house of the Lordforever.