Devo Series: Psalm 23


What do you consider the most important thing in your life?

Which is the one thing that you fear losing the most?

One way to arrive at an answer to that question is to think of the things that we spend the most time on... and those that we work so hard to keep because losing it isn't an option.

For most, it may be work or their business which provides for their basic needs and even luxuries in life.

For some, it may be their family who has been a source of motivation for the things they do.

For others, it may be their name -- the legacy that has been passed down to them from the earlier generations so they try really hard to keep that name honorable.

For the writer of Psalm 23, however, the most important thing is to be in the presence and care of His Shepherd:

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
 I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake. 
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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

That may sound as vague as it is a cliche, until we realize that the writer of Psalm 23 is King David -- a king who seemingly has it all already. Fame, power, wealth, influence -- name it, he has it.

So what does it mean when he says "I shall not be in want?" That he wants nothing more than to be under the care of his Shepherd? 

To say that I shall not be in want -- is to be in a place of peace and contentment even if everything around you is otherwise.

While we usually picture meadows straight from Sound of Music when we read these verses, the actual situation of a King at that time was far from it.

Notice the phrases that follow the first verse:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death... 
I will fear no evil for you are with me. 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies

Is that really possible? To be at peace in the midst of chaos and war? We won't fully know the weight of this psalm until we look at the character of the Shepherd. What makes this Shepherd so special anyway that to be in His presence immediately cast aside the fears and worries of a king in the midst of a battle?

Job 48:4-5 
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?

John 10:11
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

From these two verses, we can gather two truths:
1. Job 48: The Shepherd is all powerful, all-knowing and all encompassing. He created everything. 

2. John 10: He is a personal Shepherd who loves and cares for His sheep deeply. 

To know the first truth without the second is to acknowledge His power, but what comfort would that give us if we are not assured that He is on our side? He is able to do anything, but He may exercise His power against us because He does not love and care for us in a personal way. 

To take the second truth without the first one will do us no good either, because He may be on our side but if we can't rely on His might and ability to fight for us, then we might as well be fighting our battles on our own.

But both truths are characteristics of our Shepherd.

The One who desires to know, love and care for us deeply is the same One who willingly fights for us with His great might and power.

  • What struck you in the Psalm?
  • Would you say that you are content -- not wanting anything else at this point in your life?
  • Have you personally encountered the Shepherd to be able to call Him "My Shepherd" just like David in this Psalm?
Feel free to share your thoughts! I'd love to hear them :)
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