Psalm 23 is one of the most beloved, popular, and well-known Psalms. David, the author of the psalm, was able to perfectly capture who God is in light of who we are. In a world where we are encouraged to go our own way and live our own truth, Psalm 23 reminds us to submit our lives to God’s Truth, and faithfully follow His way. Jesus promised we would have trouble in this world. David’s psalm reminds us we are under the capable care of our Father in heaven, and our Shepherd and Savior, Christ Jesus.

Psalm 23 highlights our source of hope. In our waywardness, God is who He is. We are the sheep, in Psalm 23. Sheep are extremely dependent on shepherds. They aren’t smart animals, but they do know their shepherd’s voice. If they wander to the tune of their own voice, they end up in danger.

We are created in God’s image, to rely on God. When we wander from God’s will in our lives, we end up in danger. Shepherds had the responsibility to provide their sheep with plenty of food. Some have observed that sheep will never lie down unless their fears and irritations have been removed,” Vines Expository Bible Notes explains. David is letting us know that when the Lord is our Shepherd, He will provide us the quietness and peace we need in our lives.”

When we wander from the Shepherd, we can experience a painful feeling of unrest. We may not even realize we have veered so far from His will for us until we are in danger, leaving ourselves vulnerable to an attack from the enemy. The devil lies, distracts, and seeks to isolate us – leading to destruction. That is his goal, as far as we are concerned. So, like a wolf does to a lost sheep, he takes advantage of our perilous position.

Psalm 23 reminds us that the Shepherd is more powerful than the enemy. “Even when I walk through the darkest valley,” David wrote, “I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” A rod is used by shepherds for counting, guiding, rescuing and protecting sheep, and a staff is an instrument of support (NIV Study Bible). Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the Old Testament explains that the staff “could also serve as a weapon, but it was used to prod sheep in the right direction – hence a metaphor of divine guidance.”

Our God is not coincidental. We may not understand His purposes and ways all of the time, but we can be assured they are good, and intentional. He is all-knowing, and everywhere. When we are under attack, it is not hidden from the hand of God. “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the day of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:6). We are never alone, even when we are lost and in danger. The New Bible Commentary explains how “The threefold testimony teaches the providence of God, appointing life’s experiences, his protection over life’s pathway, and his provision now and always.”

Christ Jesus defeated death on the cross, so we can proclaim, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” Because of what Christ accomplished on the cross, when we proclaim Him as Lord and Savior over our lives, the Holy Spirit dwells in us! David’s hope in the Lord was fierce, for he was still awaiting the Messiah.

For us as Christ followers today, we can rest in the assurance He came! Jesus, fully God and fully man, walked the earth, sacrificed His life on the cross to save us from the penalty of sin which is death. There is no greater love than the Father’s for us. Therefore, we can trust his will for our lives is good. Paul wrote to the Ephesians,

Even in the face of David’s enemies, David knew God would be there to defend and protect him. The Message paraphrase of Psalm 23:5 reads, “You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my dropping head; my cup brims with blessing.” David proclaimed his life overflowed with blessing in the hands of God. And ours does, too, when we hand our lives over to Him.

When we clutch onto our circumstances, refusing to ask for help, we end up in a dangerous situation. It’s in these moments we leave ourselves wide open for an attack from the enemy. “Much of the Bible will not make sense until we feel the brevity, fragility, and gravity of life,” Marshall Segal wrote. The more we walk with Christ and the more life we live, we learn from experience how much easier it is to take the hard, obedient step of submitting our circumstances to God.

The more life we live, the more we understand injustice, unfairness, and being attacked and surrounded by our enemies. Age teaches us a lesson in wandering into a stranded situation, leaving ourselves dangerously exposed to the enemy. Everyday life is hard, and it wears on us over time, allowing us to understand with more brevity how deep and long and wide the Lord’s love is for us.


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Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11) The Voice paraphrase reads,

Jesus proclaimed that he would fulfill the law, not replace it. The Son of God did not snap onto the scene to the tune of a choir of angels in a Bethlehem manger. He is within the entirety of the Old Testament. “In John 10:11 Jesus makes a bold claim. He declares that He is the good shepherd. Immediately His disciples detected the resonance of Psalm 23 in His words,” the Voice paraphrase explains. “Those of us who follow Jesus today come to know Him as that gentle but strong shepherd who guides us through life if we follow Him.”

Psalm 23 proclaims the very real hope we have in Jesus, in our everyday modern lives. He is relevant in every circumstance, guiding and encouraging us. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, praying for us. “The Good Shepherd, having laid his life down for the sheep (John 10:11), gives his sheep eternal life,” Jon Bloom explains. “And they will never perish, and no one will be able to snatch them out of his hand” (John 10:28). Though life on this earth will never be easy, we can look forward to resting with God for eternity through Christ Jesus.

The Passion Translation of Psalm 23:1 reads:

Fear of the Lord and faithfulness to Him leads us to hit our knees in amazement of our God, our Father, our Savior, our Best Friend. No one knows the pages of our soul and the wondering of our minds as the Lord does. Christianity.com explains “A shepherd describes a more close and devoted relationship. Whereas a king might do what’s best for the majority, a shepherd knows and stewards each one of his sheep.” God looks at the heart, Scripture assures us. He knows us, as He created us to be, and chooses to see us that way, instead of the disastrous state we land in when we wander.

Yahweh,

Our Best Friend, Lord of our lives and Creator of all. We are in awe of the way you love us. David knew You before the Messiah came, and his divinely inspired words proclaim Your faithfulness to defend and uphold us. Jesus, our Savior, chases us down. He leaves the flock to find the one sheep who has wandered and lies exposed and vulnerable – in danger. Father we thank you for who You are. We desire to be the people You see. Help us to find that version of ourselves through our journey with You each day.

Let Your Holy Spirit remind us of the words of Psalm 23 when we are in a dark and lonely place, or season, in life, Lord. Help Your Truth to minister life and comfort, encouragement and wisdom to our souls, and ease the anxious thoughts of our minds. We pray the inspired words of King David over our lives, today:

You Lord, are our shepherd, we lack nothing. You make us lie down in green pastures, You lead us beside quiet waters. You refresh our souls. You guide me along the right paths for Your name’s sake. Even though we walk through the darkest valley, we will fear no evil, for You are with us; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort us. You prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies. You anoint our heads with oil; and our cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in Your house, LORD, forever.

In Jesus’ Name, 

Amen.

Additional Resources: 

Copyright Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, Leicester, England, 1953, 1954, 1970, 1994 All rights reserved. 

Vines Expository Bible Notes. Copyright © 2020 by Jerry Vines.

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc.

NIV Study Bible, Copyright © 1985, 1995, 2002, 2008, 2011 by Zondervan.

Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the Old Testament. Copyright © 2002.

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meg bucher profile pic bioMeg, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80, is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” and “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” She writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters, which led her to pursue her passion to write. She has led a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. Meg, a Cleveland native and lifelong Browns fan, lives by the shore of Lake Erie in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters, and golden doodle.