Saturday, December 28, 2013

Psalm 23:1–The Lord Is My Shepherd

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”  (Psalm 23:1)

That’s basically a summary statement of it all right there, isn’t it? I mean, the rest of the psalm goes on to beautifully expand upon all the ways that the Lord’s sheep are never left wanting, but it’s all there in that first sentence.

The Lord

This part of the statement explains why the rest of it can be taken as true. The One being spoken of here is no mere man but the divine Master and Creator of all. His flock are not just sheep that He has bought or inherited from some one else, but they are His very creation, the one part of creation that was honored with the likeness of His image (Genesis 1:26-27). And in the years since this psalm was written, Jesus, the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), came to this earth and died in order to redeem the lost and wandering sheep of this world into His flock (Acts 20:28). This Shepherd is not limited in power nor grace (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). He is not fickle but is a true and constant Guide (Hebrews 13:8).

Is My Shepherd

This is a very personal psalm (as most of them are), speaking directly to the relationship between the psalmist and his Lord. To make this statement is to declare an allegiance and total dependence to the One whose flock you have joined. We are all sheep under a shepherd; the question arises, though: Whose flock are you in? Because here is where there is not a direct analogy to the physical sheep-shepherd comparison; physical sheep cannot choose their shepherd. They may, through no fault of their own, find themselves under the care of a cruel and foolish shepherd and will greatly suffer the consequences of it. Or they may be blessed with the great fortune of a shepherd who knows what he is doing, one who truly cares for his flock and will put himself on the line for them.

We have those same two possible outcomes, but the difference is that the choice of which flock to be in is up to us. Jesus greatly desires to be our Shepherd, to lead and provide for us in a way that no one else can because only He knows us to the very core of our beings. Satan is every bit as eager to take us into his flock. But those who choose to join this flock are not coming into the care of a loving shepherd. No, Satan is the shepherd that offers what pleases the eye but brings only destruction. Have you chosen the Lord as your Shepherd? Do you bear the mark of His flock? – 2 Timothy 2:19; Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6

I Shall Not Lack

One thing that I learned from Mr. Keller’s book is that sheep typically demand more attention and focused care than other livestock. So for the ‘sheep’ of this passage to be able to say, ‘I shall not lack,’ is pretty impressive. It means that his Lord is able to not only provide everything he needed then but everything that he could EVER need (Matthew 6:25-33; Philippians 4:19; 2 Peter 1:2-4).

This statement speaks not only to the character of the Shepherd but to the character of the sheep as well. This is a sheep who is content in the care of his Shepherd (Philippians 4:11). He does not fret about an uncertain future or stare longingly across to the land on the other side of the Shepherd’s fence. Rather, he trusts in his Shepherd and follows His lead faithfully.

* * * * * * * * * *

So much depth there in just a few words! As we go through the rest of this day, may we all live in such a way that we can speak these words in full spirit and truth. May we put our trust in the Shepherd who gave us form, gave His life to redeem us into His flock, and continues in His wonderful care for His sheep each and every day. Praise be to Him!

Thanks for stopping by!


 Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Study of Psalm 23

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I will be posting some of the personal studies I am doing using the SOAP method. I decided to start somewhere familiar – Psalm 23. This is a psalm that many of us have known and could recite since our childhoods, but, as with the rest of scripture, it has such depth as to constantly have more to teach us about our walk with our Savior.

One of the things about this psalm that intrigued me was the opportunity to learn more about how David wrote it from the perspective of the shepherd-sheep relationship. And as the shepherd-sheep allusion is used many times throughout the Bible to describe Christ’s relationship with His people, I wanted to delve deeper into how this psalm (and other similar references) would have been understood by a people who were much more familiar with the shepherding lifestyle than I am.

Having gone through this psalm verse by verse using the SOAP method, I then read W. Phillip Keller’s book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. I would recommend that anyone who wants to take a closer look at these verses to likewise seek insight from someone who is well qualified to speak about the world of shepherding. Mr. Keller’s book really helped me gain a better understanding of what the work of a shepherd really entails, which in turn helped me gain a better of understanding of the full meaning of the words in these verses – written by a shepherd about his Shepherd. While I enjoyed reading Mr. Keller’s book, I cannot recommend without a caveat. From my reading, it does appear that he holds some false beliefs on some things, such as how the Holy Spirit works in our lives. For the most part, though, his book is very helpful in this study. What I feel would be even more helpful, though, is to find a Christian who is, or has worked as, a shepherd to study through the psalm with. How fruitful and encouraging a study that would be!

Over the next six posts, I’m going to be sharing what I learned from my study. I used the SOAP method for my personal study, but the posts on here won’t really be laid out as such. While I will type out the Scripture, my observations, and some potential applications, I will not be typing out a prayer for each verse. I wrote out my own as I studied and would encourage all of you to pray to God about the things you are taking from each verse as well.

May God bless us so that we grow in understanding and wisdom as we study and make application from this beautiful psalm.

Thanks for stopping by!