The Lord is My Shepherd

Psa 23:1-6 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (2) He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. (3) He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (4) Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (5) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

This is, of course, one of the most beloved and well-known passages in the entire Bible. How often has it been read in the presence of death, in a hospital room, at a funeral service or in some other sobering setting?

John Bunyan, in his Pilgrim’s Progress, includes the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I think he called it the Valley of Humiliation. Following Christ was no picnic hike for Bunyan. He knew, as did the Apostle Paul, that this was the common path of all who really know the Lord:

2Co 7:5 For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within.

The 23rd Psalm is a wonderful gift from the Lord to comfort us as we follow Him in this evil world. BUT, it is only a message of comfort for those who can truly say, the Lord is my Shepherd. This most beloved Psalm is also, therefore, one of the most misused Psalms. Why? Because it is so often used as a kind of magical formula to pronounce a lie – namely, that all is well with everyone. It’s all good, even for those who reject the Lord as their shepherd. There is the error, and a serious and eternally fatal error it is.

I shall not lack anything I need for true life. He accompanies me and leads me through the valley of the shadow so that I will never really perish there. I will live, even if I die. He exalts me while my enemies can only look on. I have an eternal home in the house of the King, and nothing can ever prevent me from safely arriving there. These are the promises for all who are members of Christ’s flock.

Joh 10:11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

The Lord Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, always provides everything we need in order to follow Him. He always takes us safely home. Many of you are walking through the Valley right now – to one degree or another every real Christian is doing so as long as we are in this world. Fears of all kinds are thrown at us by the enemy. But the enemy is a liar and deceiver – and so are the various agents who serve him in this world. The truth is that for all who are in Christ, it can be confidently declared – I will fear no evil. Why? Because the Good Shepherd is right there with us. Trust Him and follow His lead.

One thought on “The Lord is My Shepherd

  1. It’s always confounded me that this Psalm, meant to encourage us in LIFE as we go through a difficult valley, is read and applied to death! “The valley of the SHADOW of death,” where it may feel like I’m going to die because it’s so overwhelming, is not referring to actual death.

    I had an uncle (through marriage) who just passed away. I read the obituary one of my cousins sent me. It painted him as a wonderful husband and father, talking about all of the things he had done in his life. While he was good at certain things and he served this country in the Korean War, he was actually a selfish, self absorbed RASN. He kept my aunt basically as a slave, raising five kids, cooking and cleaning, and running the business that was supposed to be his responsibility while he would go off hunting or fishing. When another cousin (not one of his children) read the obit, she commented that, “well, whatever brings them comfort.” I told her I didn’t agree with that because many of the things in this tribute to him were a lie, like how happy he and his wife were when they moved to a small apartment with their first child. My aunt was miserable and often told my mom, her cousin, how awful it was. I told this cousin that I believe the truth sets us free, and painting this creep as a great guy is wrong. She agreed.

    Psalm 23 holds promises for those of us who are His children. “He restores my soul,” “He leads me in the path of righteousness for HIS name’s sake,” (emphasis mine), and all of the others. I hold onto the one, “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies” when I have to go into enemy territory, having to face the evil ex and others who have betrayed me, the way I had to this past week. Thank you, Pastor, for the encouragement and comfort this psalm brings as I walk through the valley of humiliation.

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