A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
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 your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Psalm 23 is the most famous Psalm. Its words are very familiar to many. They have been sung at countless funerals. They have been recited in countless prayers. Yet while its words are so very well known, is its meaning? Who after all, is this shepherd of Psalm 23? Who is this Shepherd who takes away fear (verse 4)? Who is this shepherd who takes us through the darkest of valleys (verse 4)? Who is this shepherd who causes us to live with God forever (verse 6)?
When Jesus fed the five thousand we can see him as the shepherd of Psalm 23: “…he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things” (Mark 6:34). Just as the shepherd in the Psalm refreshes the soul (verse 3), Jesus satisfies their soul with his words before he satisfies their bellies with bread and fish. Just as the shepherd in the Psalm has David lie “in green pastures” (verse 2), Jesus directs that the people sit in “the green grass” (Mark 6:39). Just as the shepherd in the Psalm fills David’s cup to overflowing, so “all ate and were satisfied” (Mark 6:42) and twelve baskets were needed to contain the leftovers from Jesus’ crowd catering (Mark 6:43)!
This meal gives us a glimpse that Jesus is the shepherd of Psalm 23. Yet in his death that we see the full reality, where souls are truly fed. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:10).
Jesus’ death on the cross takes away fear. His death brings us comfort because he’s come through the place of ultimate darkness. His death satisfies our souls to overflowing. His death brings us eternal life. In laying down his life for us, Jesus has made the way open for us to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Jesus is the good shepherd of Psalm 23.
Head: What have you learnt about Jesus from Psalm 23? What have you learnt about yourself?
Heart: How does it make you feel that he can take away all fear and give all comfort?
Hands: In what wrong places are you tempted to find comfort? What might it mean to find comfort in Jesus instead?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that Jesus is the good shepherd of Psalm 23. Thank you that he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. Thank you that he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for me. Thank you that he takes away my fear. Thank you that he gives me all comfort. Thank you that he truly satisfies my soul. Please help me to find deep comfort in him today and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.