Most people have heard of Psalm 23. It's been a favorite since David first penned it some three thousand or so years ago. Most of us recognize at least some of the key lines from it. "The Lord is my shepherd", "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death" and who can forget "My cup runneth over." Many people memorize it as a child and return to the comfort that it offers whenever there is a need.
Over the years Psalm 23 has been a place where we turn for comfort when things get really rough. A loved one is sick or dying, We are facing a difficult situation or dangerous opposition in something. And of course, whenever there is a funeral or memorial service in a movie someone will recite Psalm 23 in a ritual effort to comfort the mourners.
All of these things and many more like them are perfectly good reasons to head for Psalm 23. Yet in the modern era because it is so often read at funerals and memorial services it has become associated with death and dying. It seems to have been somehow forgotten or overlooked that these same verses that we use to comfort mourners and the dying carry an important message for the joyfull and living as well. It is actually a celebration of life, protection, provision and safety.
Psalms 23:1 <A Psalm of David.> The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
A shepherd is one who takes care of the sheep. He spends all of his time and energy making sure that they are fed, healthy and safe from predators and thieves. Because The Lord is my shepherd, I know that I will not lack anything that I need. He knows what I need not only better than I do but before I do. He was there with me when I was born and has watched over me for my entire life.
Psalms 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
This shepherd brings me to the best, most peaceful places to rest.
Psalms 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
I have been down some rough roads in my life and many of them have been wrong turns. He knows that, like many sheep, I have gone astray from time to time. Yet He spares no effort in finding me and bringing me back to where I belong. In doing this, He restored the life that I lost in my wanderings.
Psalms 23:4 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.
No matter where my path takes me, even in the worst, most dangerous places, I have no cause to fear. I look up and see Him there, watching, guarding and guiding me. He fends off the thieves and wolves with ease. No attacker can touch me because He is watching over me.
Psalms 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Though I have attackers camped all around me, taking potshots at me every chance they get, doing their level best to make me into their lunch, in the midst of them I have peace, my needs are met, and my direction is made clear. I know exactly where I am headed. The Shepherd is constantly showing me the way. He is also giving me gifts. He gives me so much I cannot hold it all. I am overflowing with His blessings. Those around me are blessed by things He's given me that were simply more than I could contain.
Psalms 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
No matter where I go, I know that because He is my shepherd, His goodness and His Mercy will follow me and be with me everywhere. No matter how long I live or where I go, His home and His fields will always be my home because He adopted me into His family.
If you are not one of His sheep and part of His family, you can be. Anyone can choose to become one of His sheep and join His family. When you do you gain all of these benefits and you will live in His house as part of His household forever. It's as easy to do as asking.
"Lord, I am one of those sheep that have gone astray. I have gotten so lost that I can never find my way by myself again. I know that you are The Good Shepherd and that you gave your life for your sheep. I am asking you to forgive me for going away from you. Please come into my heart and life and be my shepherd. Thank you in Jesus' name."