Psalms of Honesty and Truth
The infamous Psalm 23…Certainly this psalm has a message for the sorrowing, but it’s unfortunate that it’s used primarily at funerals, because Psalm 23 focuses on what Jesus does for us “all the days of [our] life” and not just at death (v. 6). It’s also unfortunate that people tend to spiritualize the psalm and fail to see it in its true setting. They see David, a “young shepherd boy,” lying on his back in the pasture and pondering the things of God, when he probably wrote this psalm late in his life, possibly during the rebellion of Absalom (2 Sam. 13–19). In it, David deals with some of the difficult things he experienced during his long walk with the Lord. While people of all ages love and quote this psalm, its message is for mature Christians who have fought battles and carried burdens.
Abel, the first martyr, was a shepherd (Gen. 4:2), and so were the patriarchs of Israel. Moses spent forty years caring for his father-in-law’s sheep, and David, Israel’s greatest king, served his father as a shepherd. The image of God as Israel’s shepherd begins in Genesis 48:15 (niv) and 49:24 and continues throughout Scripture (28:9; 80:1; 95:7; 100:3; Isa. 40:11; 49:10; Jer. 31:10; Ezek. 34:11-15; Matt. 10:6; 15:24; Mark 6:34). The promised Messiah was seen as a shepherd (Ezek. 34:16, 23; Mic. 5:4; Zech. 13:7; Matt. 2:6; 26:3; Mark 14:27; John 10).
In Psalm 22, David compared the enemy to animals that are clever and strong (22:12-16, 21), but in this psalm, he pictured God’s people as lowly sheep. Why? So we would learn about the Shepherd and see how tenderly He cares for us. Sheep are defenseless animals that are prone to get lost, and they need almost constant care. You can’t drive sheep as you do cattle; they must be led. The Eastern shepherds know their sheep by name and can call them, and they will come (John 10:1-5). The sheep were kept, not for food but for wool, milk, and reproduction. In this psalm, David explains that if we follow the Lord and trust Him, He will meet our every need, no matter what the circumstances may be.
Read with a renewed understanding of how much God loves us and wants to care for us.
Psalm 23, The Message
A David Psalm
1-3 God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
4 Even when the way goes through
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
makes me feel secure.
5 You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.
6 Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.
Thank you, dear Lord, God of Heaven, Thank you.
In Jesus Name, Amen