David was a proficient musician and songwriter. One of his best-known melodies was probably composed during the days when he kept watch over his father’s sheep. It is recorded in our Bibles as Psalm 23. In his song, David views himself as a sheep under the watchful care of God, his Heavenly Shepherd. Each of the phrases of the psalm is packed with significance for our lives, as well.
Since the Lord was David’s Shepherd, he began, “I shall not be in want.”Knowing that God would meet all his needs, David was content. Rather than worry, he trusted his Shepherd to provide him with “green pastures”to satisfy his hunger and in which to “lie down”and rest. God is not promising exquisite or expensive meals. He promises the sheep under His care that they will find satisfaction and peace. It reminds me of Jesus’ promise to give rest to the souls of all who follow Him.
David knew that sheep were fearful of fast-running water, afraid they’d fall in and drown. Therefore, good shepherds would prepare pools of “still waters”for their sheep to quench their thirst without fear. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus also promises to satisfy the thirst of all who come to Him.
Just as David never intentionally led his sheep into danger, he was confident that the Lord God would lead him along “paths of righteousness.”The Lord doesn’t lead us into sin, nor does He ever hope that we will fail in the face of temptation. He always wants the best for us.
When summers got hot and the pastures turned brown, a good shepherd would lead his flock to the high country, where the pastures were green and the waters were still cool and abundant. But to get up to the high country, the shepherd had to lead his sheep along routes through mountain passes that were dark and where dangerous animals awaited them. As long as the sheep kept their eyes on their shepherd through this “shadow of death,”they had no reason to fear. The shepherd’s “rod and staff”would fend off any predators and protect them.
David summarized the Lord’s care for him to be like sitting at a scrumptious meal “in the presence of his enemies.”Rather than focusing on his problems, David chooses to focus on the Lord’s provision, which is always bountiful and “overflowing.”
Rather than predators always nipping at his heels, David is confident that his rear guard will be “God’s goodness and mercy.”Sometimes the Lord’s mercy is translated as His “love.” Regardless of how that word is translated into English, the idea remains the same. God is good to His children.
Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) On the cross, Jesus paid the ultimate price to save all who come to Him by faith. As multitudes have done so, they have added their voices to that of David in saying, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I have everything I need.”
For further insight I’d recommend the book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller.