Cheryl and I recently traveled a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Stunning. At one overlook we met a young couple of “flat land foreigners” from Florida. We all agreed we’d love to live in those mountains overloading the eyes of our heart with creation candy.
This week we visit Psalm 23. Like enticing mountain summits and tranquil valleys below, this song takes our breath away with its simplicity and profundity. I know you know it by heart, so read it out loud:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 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 psalm says a great deal about us. It reminds us we have needs yet we “shall not want” or—better said—lack for anything that matters. Elsewhere, Scripture reminds us: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). Can we affirm this and live joyfully because the Christ is our Shepherd?
Yes, earthly needs will knock at our door. Yes, at times our soul needs restoring. Yes, we have fears and need His comfort.
How can we acknowledge we have needs when we are self-esteemed and busy-driven as if we can satisfy our deepest longings? Honestly, we need The Shepherd.
But the psalm is really more about God than us. A broader overlook of the biblical story reveals Christ is the protecting, safe Shepherd as opposed to the wolves all around us (John 10:10-11). And, He leads and guards our souls: “For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25).
Other wooing lights from our Shepherd guides our way in Psalm 23. First, He is with us, “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” He is not the ethereal, unknowable god of nature or the land. He is with us because He is inside His own through every valley (Romans 8:9). Second, He will lead us to comfort and safety (vss. 2-3). Last, He has an indescribable future prepared for us (vss. 5-6): peace from enemies, honor and reward, and to dwell with Him in His presence and kingdom forever.
What gifts are ours in Christ, our Shepherd! Now, pray Psalm 23 to God with great joy.