Sheep are half-blind, stubborn, stupid creatures. They must be watched carefully because they have a tendency to eat things that are poisonous to them. If the bellwether wanders somewhere dangerous, the other sheep will follow him.
Sheep need someone smarter than themselves to take care of them. In Scripture, we are compared to sheep. We go astray. We wander into dangerous places. We eat food that only serves to harm us! We are lost on our own. Like sheep, we need someone wiser than us to guide us.
In Psalm 23 we learn about the Shepherd who guides our little sheep hearts. The Psalm opens by telling us that God is our shepherd! What wonderful news for sheep! As believers, we have the perfect Shepherd guiding us. Psalm 23 uses beautiful imagery to show us God as the perfect Shepherd.
However, the Lord is more than a shepherd – He is God Almighty! He is the Creator and ruler of this world. This Psalm gives a subtle, but clear reminder that the shepherd guiding us is the God of the universe. His ways are perfect and the way He guides us is perfect. In studying Psalm 23, God has shown me countless things we can learn about Him. I hope that through Psalm 23, you too will learn that the Lord is your perfect Shepherd and you can trust Him to lead you on the right path.
Verses: 1-2 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.”
The Lord is your keeper, you must trust Him. When you have Christ, you have all you need. Just as shepherds protect their sheep, God is your protecting and loving shepherd. Human shepherds are flawed and will not always perfectly fulfill every need of each sheep. However, God is the perfect shepherd. Not only does He know every need of His sheep, but He is able to fulfill each and every one of those needs.
There is so much beauty in the first 2 verses of Psalm 23. Not only is God your perfect keeper, He is also your ultimate source of peace. Even when you are at your most desperate and lonely points in life, God is still there and He brings comfort. The imagery in Psalm 23 of lying down in green pastures gives a sense of tranquility. The cool, still waters are peaceful places for even the most weary of souls.
Throughout Scripture, mankind is referred to as sheep. Sheep need a shepherd, someone to keep them safe and provide for their needs. Do you see yourself as a sheep willing to trust your great Shepherd to provide, protect, and guide you? In the presence of the Lord, there is safety. When you can feel your soul shattering and the weight of the world crushing in on you, God can give you relief. However, you have to look to Him and allow Him to shepherd you.
Verses: 3-4 “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Now that we know the Lord is our keeper, we must also realize that God is also our comfort and He gives restoration. He is the healer of broken and wounded souls. He provides clear direction to those who feel they are wandering in the dark, lost, and uncertain. God gives comfort in dark times. In the darkest moments in your life, God’s presence brings light and courage. The presence of the shepherd’s staff is both a comfort and guide to sheep. In the same way, God’s correcting rod and guiding staff bring comfort to hurting souls.
Life is not perfect. You get broken, lose your way, and experience great darkness. But as sheep are comforted by the leading staff of their shepherd that is often used to nudge them back into place, you are comforted by God’s leading staff. When you are experiencing hurt, He will heal you. When you are lost, He will guide you. When we are walking the deepest valleys, He is your company.
You know that the Lord is your keeper, as a shepherd keeps His sheep. You know that He is your comfort, as a shepherd cares for His sheep. But God’s relationship to you, if you are a believer, goes much deeper than that of a shepherd or even a comforter. Have you forgotten that God is your Father?
Verses:5-6 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
We have to learn to trust our heavenly Father with everything. God is generous to His children. He blesses them, even as they come face-to-face with their enemies. He is a good father who stands beside His children. He never forgets His children, and He never abandons them. He is always there for them, and their cups overflow with His love.
You will not always be stuck in this fallen, sinful world. God has an eternal home for His children. His goodness and loyal love will always be with you. Take comfort in knowing this world is not the end for believers. If you are in Christ, God is your heavenly Father.
When you are facing opposition from those you once thought to be your friends, you can turn to your heavenly Father. When you have needs God will provide those needs as a good father does. As a believer, you can come before God with confidence because He is your Father and He loves you. You can boldly approach Him in prayer and pour out your heart to Him. He will be with you to the end of your life, and after your life here, you will dwell with Him forever.
Through Psalm 23, we learn that, if we are in Christ, God is our keeper, our comfort, and our Father. Just as sheep need their shepherd, we are desperately in need of Christ. God fulfills each of these roles – keeper, comforter, and Father – perfectly. Because He fulfills these roles perfectly, you can trust Him.
When you do not know how you’ll be able to cover next month’s bills, pray to your Keeper: He has promised that you will not be without. When you have lost someone to death, pray to your Comforter: He has promised that you will not be alone in the valley. When you feel out of place in this world, pray to your heavenly Father: He has a home in heaven for you. Lastly, when you do not know where to turn next, read Psalm 23 and remember God’s promises to you.