Psalm 23: The Lord Is My Shepherd
January 25, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The story goes of two people who recited this famous psalm publicly. One was a well-trained actor. He delivered the beautiful words with all the right intonation and emphasis, pausing at exactly the correct moments to deliver maximum impact. Those who listened beamed with pleasure as he spoke with elocution and precision. The other who recited the psalm was no trained professional orator. In fact, he spoke in a cumbersome, if still clear, manner. But by the end of his recitation of this Psalm 23, the room was filled with a hushed silence. No one hardly even breathed. Tears were flowing down the cheeks of those who listened, and there was a palpable sense that they had not just heard beautiful words, they had heard the Word.
The difference between the two recitations? Someone remarked afterwards: the first speaker knew the psalm, but the second speaker knew the Shepherd. The shepherd psalm is justly famous for its picture of God as our Shepherd written by a man who knew what it was to shepherd sheep. The first of the three main sections of the psalm gently exults in the Shepherd’s gentle care. Green pastures, still waters, soul restored. All for his name’s sake, he leads us in paths of righteousness.
Perhaps this morning you need a time of renewal. Look to the Lord for those still waters. He is your Shepherd.
The middle section of the psalm moves out of the still waters to times of trouble. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Why? “You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” The Lord is able and willing to protect his sheep. Even if death threatens, God is still committed and capable to save his sheep.
The third section of the psalm starts on the trajectory to the future. Prepared table, anointed head, cup overflowing. Goodness and mercy all the days of your life; dwell in the house of the Lord forever. This is the trajectory of those for whom the Lord is their Shepherd.
Perhaps you this morning are facing the valley of the shadow of death. Let this psalm comfort you. Even there, God can and will protect you and ultimately bring you to dwell in his house forever.
This is a psalm to read, to recite, to learn, to meditate upon, to keep under your tongue as a taste of sweetness when all around seems bitter. The Lord is your Shepherd, Christian.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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