Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Daily reading assignment: Psalm 21-23
I often choose the lesser-known passages of scripture for my daily devotional commentaries; however, today I will take up Psalm 23…known as the Good Shepherd’s Psalm.
The beauty and pastoral theme of Psalm 23 has been an inspiration to the Saints of God down through the ages. Many are the saints who, in times of trial and trouble, have found in the assurances of Psalm 23 both peace for their soul and rest in their spirit.
We find in Psalm 23 the pastoral qualities of Christ, the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-7, 14-15). The first quality of our Shepherd LORD is He is a Pastor, a herdsmen. David writes, “The Lord is my [Pastor] shepherd”. Having been the shepherd of his father’s sheep in his youth, David identified in His LORD the caring, guiding role of the pastor\shepherd.
As the Pastor of His people, our Shepherd LORD is their Provider; David writes, “I shall not want” (23:1b). What a wonderful promise! The LORD not only leads us, He also provides for our needs so we are never lacking for any good thing.
The LORD is also the Protector of His people (23:2). A shepherd was attentive to his sheep and, when it was time, guided them to new pastures where they would eat their fill and repose surrounded by fresh, tender grasses (23:2a).
The Shepherd not only provides “green pastures” (23:2a), he also leads the sheep to “still waters” (23:2b). Unlike sheep that stray into the danger of running streams and are whisked away to their deaths, the LORD leads His sheep to “still waters” where they find refreshment and comfort in the company of the Shepherd. He loves and knows his sheep (John 10) and is not content with the loss of even one sheep. He desires the best for his sheep and will do all he can to “restore” (23:3a). The Good Shepherd promises his pastoral care, provision and, when they stray, His protection that chastens and restores His sheep to “the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3).
Like a loving shepherd guiding and guarding his sheep, David was confident the LORD would be with him in his darkest hours.
Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley [gorge; gully] of the shadow of death [shade; darkness; gloom], I will fear [be afraid] no evil [wickedness; the wicked; distress]: for thou [the LORD] art with me; thy rod [stick; ruling scepter; a symbol of authority] and thy staff [walking stick; support] they comfort [console; ease] me.”
When enemies pressed in on every side, David knew he would not be alone. Like a shepherd wields a rod to strike a mortal blow against a wild beast, he knew the “rod” of the LORD would come to his defense. Like a shepherd bearing his “crook”, David believed the LORD would lovingly lead him through the darkness of the valley and into safe pastures. Asserting his faith, David looked to the LORD and said, “I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me” (23:4b).
Continuing the analogy of the sheep and the shepherd, David described in Psalm 23:5 God’s loving care of His people. Though lions roar and wolves howl without, it was the perpetual presence of the shepherd that stilled the flock. Remembering how the shepherd uses his body as the gate into the safety of the sheepfold, David rested in the knowledge that no adversary could harm him without first passing his Shepherd Lord.
Knowing the shepherd uses oil for medicinal purposes as a salve for scratches and open sores, David wrote, “thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” (23:5b).
I close with David’s blessed affirmation that is the hope of all saints.
Psalm 23:6 – “Surely goodness [better; best; pleasing; favor] and mercy [loving-kindness; grace] shall follow [run after; pursue; chase] me all the days of my life: and I will dwell [inhabit; sit; abide; remain] in the house [family; household] of the LORD [Yahweh; Jehovah; Eternal God] for ever.”
Friend, God reserves His best for His people and a saint who places his faith in the LORD will never exhaust God’s loving mercy.
When this earthly sojourn is nearly done and this veil of flesh is worn, take heart my friend; the LORD has a home prepared for His people where we will dwell in His presence for all eternity!
John 14:1-3 – “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith