The Lord is My Shepherd
Have you ever wondered why people often recite the 23rd Psalm at funerals? At least they do on TV shows and movies. It’s almost to the point where people think of death and sadness when they hear it. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I know for a while I refused to consider Psalm 23 after my grandma died, as thinking of it made me sad. I wish I would have considered it more fully sooner, because I'm telling you, it's full of life and promise!
But on the way to school today, the devil got to trying to put a thought in my head. See, it normally starts there – just a thought. Thoughts give birth to desire, which gives birth to hope. Hope gives birth to either faith or fear, which in turn give birth to either life or death. The devil would have us live in fear and death always. That’s why 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us to bring every thought into captivity – to govern over our thoughts (rather than allow them to govern us).
In defense of the Word of the Lord and to conquer the devil, I recited out loud Psalm 23, you know, in case he forgot (didn’t Jesus frequently combat Satan with those three simple words? – “it is written…”). There is so much hope and life and promise in this Psalm, I think it just became my favorite.
So let’s review what its saying.
Psalm 23, NKJV
A Psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, 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 runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
The scripture starts declaring, “The LORD is my shepherd – I shall not want.” Wow. This scripture makes a bold statement. The shepherding of the Lord fills your desire. You’ll want for nothing. Why? Because none other than the LORD is your shepherd.
The scriptures say He’ll make you “lie down in green pastures” and lead you “beside the still waters.” Lying down is a position of rest and recovery, peace and vulnerability. Green pastures in the eyes of a sheep equate to food, fun, and possibly fellowship. So it’s saying you’ll be at peace and surrounded by the things in life that can cause a man to be content.
“He restores my soul.” Have you been emotionally wrecked? The LORD restores your soul. You say your mind is not what it used to be? He restores your soul. Having problems controlling your will and desires? He restores your soul. Was something dear to your heart stolen from you? He restores your soul. I can’t say this enough – The LORD restores your soul!
“He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” He’s going to lead you to do righteous things along the right paths. After all, isn’t it the character of a loving Father to care for those He calls after His own name?
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Why will you fear no evil, though you are walking through a valley overcast by death’s own shadow? “For [the LORD] is with me. [His] rod and [His] staff, they comfort me.” Surrounded by trouble on every side? Don’t worry! Trouble doesn’t know anything about trouble compared to what the Lord will bring against those who hurt His namesake.
The Bible says He’ll “prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies.” A table is symbolic of belonging like to a family. A slave could never sit at the master’s table with the master’s family, but the Lord here is making one for you, while your enemies watch on. The table also represents provision, fellowship, and acceptance.
He’ll “anoint your head with oil.” Simple explanation… FAVOR! Think of a public declaration from God that He loves you, has chosen you as His own, and will bless all you do.
Your “cup runs over.” Let me take a moment to really hit this home. We don’t serve the God that has barely enough to pass around to get everyone by. We serve the God that created all there is in the first place, and owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the bank – and the banker too! He’s not just going to give you what you need. He’s not just going to give you what you desire. He’s going to blow your mind. A man calls an overrunning cup waste. God calls it favor. This is all throughout the scriptures – this concept that God overfills those He blesses. Malachi 3 says those that obey the tithe, God will pour out a blessing “there is not room sufficient to receive.” Paul says later that God is able to do “exceedingly and abundantly above all that we can ask or think!” God says Himself that “eye has not seen nor has ear heard neither has it entered into the heart of man all the things that I’ve prepared for them that love me.” We’re talking about the God of overflow – the God of overdose – the God of far more than enough. And He’s pouring it out on you!
“Surely” – or rather “I am utterly convinced and fully persuaded” – that “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Oh Lord, let me get carried away in that flow! “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
As wonderful as this is, I’m going to paraphrase it once more. Backwards. Say it out loud with me. Prophecy it into your life. Even if you don’t feel or understand it, remember God’s the “God that calls things which are not as though they were” and He made you to be like Him. (When a man does that, it’s a lie. When God does it, whatever God said becomes truth. That’s part of why God can never lie. This isn’t your word you’re saying though. It’s God’s!)
I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
My cup runs over.
He anoints my head with oil.
He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
His rod and staff comfort me.
He is with me, so I shall fear nothing, even though I walk through the valley of death’s towering shadow.
He leads me in paths of righteousness, after all!
He restores my soul.
He leads me beside still waters, and makes me lie down in green pastures.
I shall not want…
… for the LORD is my shepherd.
This is the promise of God to those who desire to follow Him. The invitation to follow God is open to you now! Take Him up on it! Choosing to follow Jesus is the best thing I’ve ever done. I promise, you’ll never regret it.
Victory in every battle! Blessing all around!! Nothing broken. Nothing missing. I shall not want! For the LORD is my shepherd.