The Message of Psalm 23

A Popular Psalm

Psalm 23 is probably the most popular psalm in the Bible. There is so much being said in just a few verses. There have been books dedicated to just this one Psalm because of the meaning behind each verse and the powerful message behind it. The entire Bible is like that. That’s why it takes a lifetime to study it in depth. There is so much we can learn from it. When you dig deep into scripture and understand what God is trying to tell us then you get a craving for more. We can get a better understanding of God and what he wants from us.

The Bible tells us Jesus is the Good Shepard as we see in this Psalm. Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is my shepherd;” and John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd.”, we see that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is not just watching over us but he will care for us and lead us on the right path. Sheep can recognize their shepherd just as we should recognize and know Jesus. Shepherds put a distinguishing mark on their sheep just as we have been marked by his love for us. And if you notice, the shepherd doesn’t pull the sheep by a leash and we aren’t forced to follow him because he give us a choice. We follow him by our own free will and hopefully we are surrounded by others who will walk with us as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

Sometimes sheep have the urge to wander off in search of greener pastures. Not because they need something but because they are restless and are looking past what is right in front of them. Psalm 23 says, “I shall not want” and a good shepherd will provide for his sheep. Jesus will meet our deepest desires so that we don’t have to wander off searching for things we don’t need. In Matthew 6:25-27 he says, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Remember you are important to him and we must trust that he will care for us.

The Good Shepherd

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” – Psalm 23:2

Sheep are easily scared and need to feel safe in order to lie down and rest. Just like when we have a restless sleep because we hear a strange noise or if we are worried or stressed over something going on in our lives. We may not be able to lie down in peace until we feel comfortable and our worries are washed away. Only God knows how worried and scared we are and only he knows how to calm our restless minds and lead us towards the still waters. All we have to do is pray and ask him to give us the peace we seek.

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:3

The Psalms were songs for the Israelite where they would sing the praises of the Lord. I’m sure it would fill their hearts with joy and give them encouragement when singing of the wonderful things God has done for them just as we feel moved when we hear a song that reminds us of his love for us. A song can fill our hearts with joy that can’t be felt from just reading words on a piece of paper. There are songs we can listen to that remind us that Jesus will lead us if we will follow him. He will carry us when we are hurt and suffering. He will seek us out when we are on the wrong path and lead us back on the right path because when we decide to follow him, he promises to lead us, to take care of us and to fulfill all our needs. He is our Shepherd, the Good Shepherd.

Fear No Evil

“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.” – Psalm 23:4

When we see a movie like The Lord of the Rings, where the hero is up against overwhelming odds, you may feel a bit scared for him but mostly you feel excited! When all seems lost and all hope seems to have vanished, you still have the hope that the hero will stand tall and the enemy will be defeated. You just don’t know how the hero will triumph but you know that he will. That is how our faith should be. Knowing God will be with us no matter how dark our situation may seem. When everything seems to be crashing down around you, just imagine God picking you up and carrying you through the darkness just like a shepherd carries a lamb to safety. The Good Shepherd watches over those he loves with a might rod leading his flock to peaceful pastures.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” – Psalm 23:5

David wrote this Psalm showing how he had put his complete trust in the Lord. His life showed us that trusting God can overcome any feelings of fear we may have. Even at a young age David wasn’t afraid to face his enemies like the giant Goliath. He knew that God provide for him while his enemies were seeking to destroy him. God not only provided for him but also for all of Israel as well. When they trusted in God and followed him, God would bless them abundantly. God made this promise to his people in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” That promise still stands today for all of us.

He Will Never Leave You

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalm 23:6

King David is not describing ordinary goodness and mercy; he is describing God’s unconditional love for us, Agape love. No matter what King David did, God never left him. Isn’t that amazing and encouraging! King David had many struggles throughout his life but he kept coming back to God no matter how big his sins were. God showed him mercy and blessed not only him but his descendants as well.

Psalm 23 is a wonderful example of biblical encouragement wrapped up in 6 verses. It shows that God will be with us to guide us, comfort us and show us his love and mercy. No matter what is going on around us, he will be there surrounding us with his love.

How To Be Like Jesus

God’s Word

Jesus Christ was a righteous man who lived a sinless life. As followers of Jesus Christ we should strive to be more like him. Isn’t that a part of being a Christian? Being a Christian means following Jesus by imitating his life and character. We must turn to the Bible to find the true Jesus and try to gain wisdom from his words and actions. The Bible tells us he was righteous, humble, merciful and forgiving. The Bible also shows us that he was a human being just like us. We see that he was tempted by the devil; he demonstrated compassion and even showed anger just as we do. Jesus was a human being like us filled with emotions.

Compassion

As a human being Jesus felt compassion for others and he showed it time and time again. In Matthew 14:14 it says, “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” He was moved with compassion because he cares about us and he will always care about us. In Luke chapter 7 verse 13 we see he is deeply moved by a widow who had just lost her only son. It says, “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’” Then he raises the son from the dead. He was constantly showing compassion towards others. He also calls on us to show compassion for one another just as he did. He set examples for us so we can show compassion to everyone just as he did. Time and time again he is moved with compassion toward the sick and weary not to those with money or fancy clothes but to all those who ask.

Humility

Sometimes it’s hard for us to act like Jesus when we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. We constantly look at others and see their flaws. When we see how people react to certain situations we think to ourselves how we would react if we were in their shoes. Of course we always picture ourselves making the right decisions and wonder why everyone doesn’t act like us. Is that how Jesus would react, with pride? He would definitely not act like that. When we compare ourselves with others we tend to focus on the negative about others and try to build ourselves up thinking we are better than them. In contrast, Jesus showed us that we should humble ourselves just as he did. He would break bread with sinners and tax collectors while the Pharisees and scribes looked down upon them. Jesus showed his disciples humility by doing the work of a servant in John 13 when he washed their feet.

The master of a house doesn’t wash the feet of his servants but the servants are the ones who do that type of work. Jesus wanted to set an example for them so that they would understand that they were to humble themselves towards one another and towards others. At first Peter didn’t understand but later he completely understood what Jesus was showing him. Peter shows his understanding in 1 Peter 5:5, “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” Just as Peter gained wisdom and understanding, we also can grow in wisdom and knowledge by reading and following what God has giving us in the Bible.

Love

In all things that Jesus did he did it with love. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines love as a “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.” Jesus truly loves us. He spent time here on earth to be an example for us so that we would love as he does. He showed us one of the hardest things we could ever do was to love our enemies. In Matthew 5:43-44 he tells us, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He displays this in John 4 when he talks with a Samaritan woman. The Jews and Samaritans didn’t like each other and wouldn’t even speak to the other. But he tells us not just to love those who love us but also love those who hate us. It’s very hard to do but love can change someone’s heart.

I remember a sermon one time were the pastor said there was a car accident outside his Church while he was preaching. A man lost control of his car and slammed into one of the Church member’s car. The man was angry and very upset and it showed in his attitude toward the Christian. The Christian didn’t return anger for anger but showed the love of Jesus. After some time passed the man felt compelled to visit the Church and see if he could find a way to let go of the anger within because he had a lot of anger deep down inside of him. At some point after that the man turned his life over to the Lord and found the peace he was looking for. Jesus knew all along that he would suffer and die but he never stopped loving. We don’t know what God has in store for us but we do know that love can move mountains. He will work through us to accomplish amazing things if we just follow him.

Belonging To Jesus

When he started his ministry Jesus said to his disciples, “Follow me.” Just as he called the disciples to follow him he calls us today to be Christians. Did you know that the word Christian wasn’t used by the early followers of Jesus but they were given that name by the non-Christians of the day. The first part of the word Christian obviously refers to Jesus being the Christ. The other part of the word comes from the Latin ending meaning “belonging to.” So we belong to Jesus and he calls us to follow him in word and deed so that we can be a reflection of love in this world. We are to love one another as Jesus showed us with compassion and humility. 1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”