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"I shall not want"
RUN INTO THE STRONG TOWER OF
AND BE SAFE
(Exposition and Commentary on Psalm 23)
Jehovah Roi - Part 1 Continued
Jehovah Roi - Part 2
PATH OF TRUTH
Who wrote Psalm 23?
David but it is always intriguing to read liberal commentaries that
still question the literal rendering in Hebrew & in the Greek Septuagint
When in his life did David write?
One cannot be dogmatic but mention of valley of shadow of death &
enemies recalls to mine those enemies like Saul (1Sa 18,
etc) & Absalom who sought his life (2
Darkest Days of David’s Life").
This would at least suggest that this song was written later in his life
and not necessarily when he was a shepherd lad pasturing his flocks. He
undoubtedly never forgot his "roots".
What are David's "credentials"?
As alluded to above David was a shepherd (cf
1Sa 16:11 "There
remains yet the youngest, & behold, he is tending (shepherding) the
sheep." cf also 1Sa 17:15,28, 2Sa
understand the responsibility the shepherd had to defend his sheep?
(see passage below)
(explaining to Saul why he should be allowed to defend the" flock"
of Israel from the "predator" Goliath) But
sheep. When a
lion or a
lamb from the
after him and
attacked him &
rescued it from his
mouth & when he
against me, I
seized him by his
struck him &
killed him. Your
lion & the
Philistine will be like
one of them,
since he has
armies of the
delivered me from the
paw of the
lion & from the
paw of the
bear, He will
deliver me from the
What are the the metaphors David uses in Psalm 23?
Sheep (implied) & Shepherd. A
synopsis of figurative Language
is a word or phrase with one distinct meaning used in place of another
word, to paint so to speak a "word picture" of the word it is used in
place of. So for example In Psalm 23 what is David picturing himself as?
Obviously as a "sheep". In the first 4 verses he speaks from the
perspective of a sheep, a metaphor which brings to our mind many
comparisons as almost everyone is familiar with sheep. It is interesting
to note that "sheep" are the most commonly mentioned animal in the Bible &
are used some 400x (including the term "flocks") with "shepherd(s)" being
characterize men as "sheep" anywhere else in scripture? Again the
obvious answer is "Yes" and we'll look at several of those passages in
How does Is 53:6 characterize men(2)?
All of us like
Each of us has
turned to his own
way; but the
LORD has caused the
iniquity of us
fall on Him."
Men are like sheep.
What do "sheep" do?
They stray. Notice the "all" which
takes care of all humanity, but then the use of "each"
brings it to a very personal level. So God says mankind is like sheep,
which should be a humbling revelation when we consider the nature of
sheep. Dogs can often find their way home but not sheep. But no matter how
far the sheep wander -- if they are truly His sheep -- He will find them &
bring them home. This truth should encourage us all, for as the hymn
writer says below, we are "prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to
leave the God I love." Praise God for His seeking, restoring grace.
You are never so lost that the Good Shepherd cannot find you.
"Straying" sheep are also seen in (Ps 119:176,
Mt 18:12,13, 14, Lk 15:4, 1Peter 2:25
illustration of potential cost of
From "Come Thou
Fount of Every Blessing"
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love,
Here's my heart. O take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand'ring from the fold of God,
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed his precious blood
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let they goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee
WHAT ARE SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF SHEEP? HOW DO THESE APPLY TO MANKIND?
Webster's definition for "sheep" is interesting:
"a timid and defenseless
Dumb (You won't find sheep acts in the circus because they can't be
trained to perform). Sheep are singularly unintelligent & they don't learn
from mistakes but in fact often repeat them. They tend to wander &
go astray & are unable to find their way home to the sheepfold even when it is
within sight! Now that is dumb! But knowing this the shepherd never takes
His eyes off His wandering sheep (cf Ps 32:8,
As servants take their cue from the master's eye, and a nod or a wink
is all that they require, so should we obey the slightest hints of our
Master, not needing thunderbolts to startle our incorrigible sluggishness,
but being controlled by whispers & love touches. The LORD is the great
overseer, Whose eye in providence overlooks everything. It is well for us
to be the sheep of His pasture, following the guidance of His wisdom.
Defenseless (No quills like porcupines, scent like skunks, claws like
cats or teeth like lions). A sheep's bite is harmless. Most have no horns.
Unable to defend themselves against attacks. Lambs are especially
vulnerable & in need of protection.
Shepherds on the Bethlehem hillsides still
use a sling, made of goat’s hair or leather and immortalized by David
against Goliath (1Sa 17:49).
Drown easily (wool soaks up the H2O & they sink to the bottom).
If they get on their backs they cannot right themselves. Kicking &
bleating doesn't help although their cries can alert the shepherd who sets
them on their feet again.
Danger poorly perceived (Poorly developed instincts to
warn them of potential danger) Often a sheep will wander into a briar
patch or fall over a cliff in the rugged Palestinian hills. The shepherd
tenderly searches for his sheep and carries it to safety on his shoulder,
wrapped in his own long cloak (Luke 15:3, 4, 5, 6).
Depend TOTALLY upon their shepherd.
Need meticulous care: Phillip Keller(1)
"Sheep do not "just take care of themselves" as some might
suppose. They require more than any other class of livestock, endless
attention and meticulous care."
water-hungry Syria and Palestine, shepherds have always had to search
diligently for water, sometimes for hours every day for they know that the
sheep must be watered daily.
Sheep have actually been known to nibble themselves over the cliff!
That is dumb! But as you say it or think it, remember that "sheep" are a
metaphor for men! So what is the great need for mankind? Clearly without a
tender, caring shepherd willing to lay down his life for the sheep, they
would surely perish & so it is with all men who do not have a "Good
more fully in the next column)
WE ARE THE "SHEEP".
SHEEP NEED A SHEPHERD
need their shepherd's touch daily. Sheep answer his call, rub against his
leg & wait for a pat. Personal attention is better than food.
Satisfied sheep eat drink and get fat & fulfill their purpose. They
will only answer to the herdsman's call, except when sick.
Spurgeon adds in a
(The Blood of the Covenant)
sheep have nothing to do
with their own feeding, guidance, or protection; they have only to follow
their Shepherd unto the pastures which he prepares, and all will be well
Walvoord writes that...
utterly dependent upon the shepherd for almost everything pertaining to
their well-being. In the work of Christ for His sheep, there is
accordingly the ministry of leading the sheep in the path of the will of
God. Only as sheep are willing to follow Christ will they find their
complete spiritual needs supplied. It is their privilege to follow the
shepherd, completely trusting Him for all the things that characterize
their needs, such as food, water, shelter, and protection from their
enemies. Just as natural sheep follow their shepherd, so believers in the
Lord should follow Christ as the Great Shepherd and have their spiritual
needs completely supplied....The
green pastures and still waters are to be found by those who are near the
shepherd....(In sum we see) on the one hand, the wonderful divine
provision and on the other hand, the utter need of the sheep for that
which God alone can supply." John Walvoord:
Bibliotheca Sacra Vol 121: p298
What is the state of the sheep of the Good Shepherd according to
They shall not want (lack for anything they need). The Greek word for
"want" (lack, be without, have need) is
hustereo which means to "fall
short of the end" including falling short of expectations. Like the little
girl recalled who was memorizing Ps 23 "I shall not want- I've got all I
need". But not necessarily everything I want. The Shepherd
knows some things are not best for my spiritual health. This phrase
indicates that the Shepherd is committed to meet the needs of the sheep.
It could be paraphrased "The LORD is enough"! John D.
Rockefeller, the billionaire oil man, was once asked, "How much money is
enough?" He replied, "Just one more dollar." He was never satisfied &
the word "enough" eluded him all his days. For us who are His
sheep, the Lord is enough...but is He?...if we should have to declare
bankruptcy? Is the Lord enough... if we don't get that job we
desire? Is the Lord enough...if our husband or wife leaves us, or if they
die suddenly, or our children get sucked into the drug & alcohol scene? Is
the Lord enough...if we remain single all our life? Is the Lord
enough...if we are never a success by worldly standards? Pithy points
Does He not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can
He leave His children to starve? I shall not want for spirituals, I know
that His grace will be sufficient for me. Resting in Him He will say to
me, "As thy day so shall thy strength be." I may not possess all that I
wish for, but "I shall not want." Others, far wealthier and wiser than I,
may want, but "I shall not." "The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger:
but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." (Ps 34:10)
It is not only "I do not want," but "I shall not want." Come what may, if
famine should devastate the land, or calamity destroy the city, "I shall
not want." Old age with its feebleness shall not bring me any lack, and
even death with its gloom shall not find me destitute. I have all things
and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank,
not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because
"The Lord is my shepherd." The wicked always want, but the righteous
never; a sinner's heart is far from satisfaction, but a gracious spirit
dwells in the palace of content." (Ref)
Why do the sheep of Jehovah Roi not want?
He makes them lie down
(to lie stretched out)
in green pastures -
Green pastures and quiet waters are mentioned first because they are
priority needs of the sheep if they are to survive and grow. The idea here
is "He makes me rest" (the tense of the verb suggests He
repeats this action over & over) & the
uses a verb picturing "pitching a tent", "tabernacling" or tarrying.
Am I taking time to "pitch my tent" & "tarry" in the presence of the
pastoral provision of my Shepherd? Or am I so busy, in such a hurry, that
I hardly hear His voice? The Shepherd went before the sheep & searched out
the places of repose but the sheep had to follow Him. Are you following
the Shepherd's lead or going your own way, to pastures of your own making
(Pr 14:12)? Notice that the implications of the psalm are that sustenance is
discovered only as the sheep follow the shepherd. He will lead them to
quiet waters and green pastures, but if they fail to follow the Shepherd,
they may well find themselves with unresolved needs. Have you noticed
that your satisfaction level is directly related to your proximity to the
Good Shepherd? Remember also that Israel was an arid land so it took a
wise experienced shepherd to find the oases. Any disturbance or intruder
scares sheep. They are very fearful & cannot lie down unless they feel
totally secure as the were here in the setting of green pastures & in
the presence of their watching Shepherd. Similarly hungry sheep
would not lie down. So when sheep are lying down in green pastures, it
means their tummies are full. They are content with the Shepherd's
provision. Are you?
What are the "green pastures"? Although, we cannot be dogmatic,
surely this picture includes the nourishment found in the Word of God (cf
Jer 15:16 ) which alone satisfies the Good Shepherd's flock. As the Good
Shepherd of the sheep He meets every need of His flock (Php 4:19note),
and there is no want to those who trust him. When we follow the Shepherd
closely, His will and desires will become our will and desires. We can
trust the Good Shepherd to be consistent with His own nature. As someone
has well said, the "Secret" of growing in grace is to be like a sheep &
to FILL UP, LIE DOWN & RUMINATE (Meditate) A hungry, ill fed
sheep is ever on its feet, on the move, searching for another scanty
mouthful of forage to try and satisfy its gnawing hunger. Such sheep are
not contented, do not thrive & are no use to themselves nor to their
owners. They languish and lack vigor and vitality. Can we not see the
clear spiritual application? ARE YOU RESTING IN THE PRESENCE OF THE
SHEPHERD OR RESTLESS BECAUSE YOU'RE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR GREENER PASTURES of
In his "Farm
Sermons" Spurgeon comments that
Just as the sheep
has nourishment according to its nature, and this nourishment is
abundantly found for it by its shepherd, so that it not only feeds, but
then lies down in the midst of the fodder, satiated with plenty, and
perfectly content and at ease; even so are the people of God when Jesus
Christ leads them into the pastures of the covenant, and opens up to them
the precious truths upon which their souls shall be fed. Beloved, have we
not proved that promise true...My soul has sometimes fed upon Christ till
I have felt as if I could receive no more, and then I have laid me down in
the bounty of my
God to take my rest,
satisfied with favor, and full of the goodness of the Lord.
2) PEACEFUL REST (Ps 23:2):
He leads me beside quiet waters.
Lit. "waters of resting places," i.e., restful waters--waters that provide
refreshment and well-being (Is 49:10). Sheep are afraid of fast flowing
streams. God’s provision of still waters has a soothing effect & calms the
sheep. The root word for "quiet" (hold pointer over
"quiet" for Septuagint or Lxx word)
Hebrew = "absence of movement" w/ the idea of being settled
next to the waters to which He leads me. The verb
is used by the
(or Lxx) is) to translate the Hebrew word for "leads"
& interestingly is the same verb used by John to describe the
leading of the Holy Spirit
(Jn 16:13) & is also used to describe the leading of the
Lamb in (Rev 7:17
Lamb in the center of the throne will
Shepherd, and will guide (hodegeo)
them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from
Similarly the Lxx word for "quiet"
is used by Jesus Himself in His invitation for all those who are weary &
heavy laden to come to Him (Mt 11:29).
Our Lord leads us beside these "still waters;" we
could not go there of ourselves, we need his guidance, therefore it is
said, "he leadeth me." He does not drive us. Moses drives us by the law,
but Jesus leads us by his example, and the gentle drawing of his love.
3) POWER RESTORED: He restores my soul.
revives me &
refreshes my spirit, where the Hebrew word "shuwb" (shuv) describes
movement back to the point of departure, a reversal of direction
(literally in 2 Ki 20:10) so one sense of restoring our souls may be that
He restores us from our wandering way (cf Ps 51:12 where David prays to be
restored; cf Ps 85:4, 5, 6, 7). In addition our "spiritual battery" tends
to run down with the toil & testing of each day & thus we find ourselves
in daily need of restoration & revival (2 Cor 4:16, cf Ps 119:25
But how? Thru disciplined regular intake of His life giving Word (cp Ps
law of the
& thru the
ministry of the Spirit of Christ. While a shepherd provides his sheep with
food, rest & restoration, God provides His sheep with His Word, which is
the principle means of giving spiritual nourishment, rest & restoration.
Do you feel rested & restored? Are you daily taking in the Word? (if you
having difficulty w/ this discipline let me encourage you to begin reading
brief devotional in the
Daily Bread along
w/ the Scriptural passage. The more you eat "good food" the
more you will desire it.)
Spurgeon: "Do we feel that our spirituality is at its lowest ebb?
He who turns the ebb into the flood can soon restore our soul. Pray to
him, then, for the blessing--"Restore thou me, thou Shepherd of my soul!"
(cf Ps 119:176-
PURPOSE REVEALED: He guides me in the paths of righteousness
When we follow the Good Shepherd we will always be on the right paths,
which are safe & productive because of His leading. How does He
"guide" us today? A central aspect of this guidance comes from His Word
(Pr 6:22, 23, 2Pe 1:19
as well as from our "Helper",
the Holy Spirit Who
guide (us) into
truth" (Jn 16:13, 1Co 2:12, 13, 14)
Being on the right path does not mean that we
will not face danger or difficulty as we follow the Shepherd. In verse 4,
the reader is reminded that the sheep may have to travel through the
valley of death, yet the sheep are assured that no evil will befall them
if they remain near the shepherd. We frequently desire and plead that we
might avoid the difficult circumstances of life, when in truth our
greatest concern should always be our proximity to the Shepherd. (Ref)
characterizing activities of the Lord as Shepherd (i.e., emphasizing His
grace and guidance) are followed by the ultimate basis for His goodness,
i.e., “His name’s sake” (cf. Ps 25:11; 31:3; 106:8; Is 43:25; 48:9; Ezek.
36:22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32) God guides us for the sake of his reputation. The prosperity of the Lord's
servant brings honor to the Lord's name. The professional guide’s “name”
or reputation was the traveler’s only guarantee of protection and safe
arrival, as it was the guide’s main claim to employment.
The measure of a shepherd is the condition of his flock. God’s reputation
rests upon His ability to guide and care for His people.
Don't overlook the
fact that the green pastures and the still waters are the essential
provision by which the shepherd restores the sheep for their journey. It
is important for us to remember that the journey is not complete when the
sheep reach the green pastures and the still waters. The sheep are only
being restored so that they might continue the journey, which may well
lead them through dark valleys before the day is done. Rest is always a
means to an end. The Shepherd renews the sheep so that they might follow
Him as He leads them in the paths of righteousness. (Ref)
PROTECTION RIGHT BY MY SIDE:
goes before us when the path is smooth, but He stands beside us when the
way is dangerous and frightening. In a way the best 2 words in the entire
Psalm are "WITH ME". How often the assurance of
His presence has encouraged the hearts of tremulous saints walking through
valleys with dark shadows (cf Moses Ex 3, Joshua Dt 31:6-8, Josh 1:5,9,
the remnant of believing Israel Isaiah 43:1, 5, every saint of every age
Ps 46:7, Heb 13:5,6, Mt 28:18, 19, 20) The presence of the shepherd also
offers comfort to the flock. Sheep are content merely to be in the same field
with their shepherd; Christians are comforted by the very presence of the
Lord. This thought is especially comforting when darkness overshadows the
It is the Shepherd's presence which dispels our fears. (See
Spurgeon's devotional) How often we turn a corner (even when being
led in the paths of righteousness) & find ourselves plunged into
deep darkness against our will! The fact that God was David’s shepherd did
not keep him from many trials and tribulations (1 Sa 18:6-9)
nor will it shelter us from similar dark valleys. Life is full of "deep
darknesses". In these tight & suffocating places, the walls begin to close
in, the light is expelled, & our vision becomes very dim.
But in the valley of deep darkness in Ps 23:4, we "see" our Good Shepherd
in a much more personal way. (Click real life example during US Civil War) We may not be able to
literally see Him, but He is present. This Lord Who Is Here, Yahweh, is
indeed with us in those times of darkness. Notice the shift in the
pronouns from "HE" ("he makes me", etc) in (Ps
23:1, 2, 3) to
"Thou" when he entered the valley of deep darkness.
David clearly reaffirms the sufficiency of His Great Shepherd as he
exclaims "Thou art with me!" Is there any other place more fitting for
us to find Him this intimately than in the moments of darkness & despair?
Don't despise the dark valleys for in them you will discover sweet
Guardian of your souls"
no longer ahead, to lead, but alongside to escort. And so in keeping with
David's opening affirmation, we will never “want” or lack for the comfort
which comes from the Shepherd's presence, power & protection. While we are
never promised there will be no evil, we can be assured that we need “fear
(v4), for we will always be in the Shepherd’s presence if we follow Him in
His paths. How did David qualify the valley of death? It was only a "shadow"
for to the LORD's sheep death is but a doorway into the Shepherd's
presence. The Good Shepherd in laying down His life was then
brought up from the dead as the "Great
death. (1Cor 15:24,25, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56)
section is often applied to death of a saint to which Spurgeon writes
that it is not walking IN the valley, but THROUGH the
valley. We go through the dark tunnel of death and emerge into the light
of immortality. We do not die, we do but sleep to wake in glory. Death is
not the house but the porch, not the goal but the passage to it." (Ref)
Elsewhere Spurgeon adds
Behold, how independent of outward circumstances the Holy Ghost can make
the Christian! What a bright light may shine within us when it is all dark
without! How firm, how happy, how calm, how peaceful we may be, when the
world shakes to and fro, and the pillars of the earth are removed! Even
death itself, with all its terrible influences, has no power to suspend
the music of a Christian's heart, but rather makes that music become more
sweet, more clear, more heavenly, till the last kind act which death can
do is to let the earthly strain melt into the heavenly chorus, the
temporal joy into the eternal bliss! Let us have confidence, then, in the
blessed Spirit's power to comfort us." (Click
for full devotional)
Chuck Smith from Calvary Chapel had the following interesting note
in a message on Psalm 23 especially the section referring to "death". He
Death doesn't hold any terror or fear for the child of God. A survey was
recently done among morticians 2000 of them responded to it. And it was a
survey that dealt with the preparation of bodies of those people who they
knew to be truly born again and those who were not, and you can ask a
mortician to put a smile on a persons face when they are dead. Did you
know that? Next to impossible, unless the person was a born again
Christian! And they had observed this phenomena and so they made a survey
among morticians, and it all came back, yes, they had all observed the
What gave David comfort? (Psalm 23:4)
rod & Thy
ROD was generally a short club used to fight off wild beasts &
clearly pictures PROTECTION. The "STAFF" was a slender
pole with a little crook on the end used to aid the sheep & depicts
GUIDANCE (how many times have we seen the idea of guidance in Ps 23?
Why so frequent?) The crook of the staff could be hooked around the leg of
a sheep rescue him from harm.
Has He ever rescued you from harm?
Gentle taps of the staff on the sheep's side provided direction & even
discipline for sheep that were prone to wander from the "narrow path". In
sum the Shepherd's
rod and staff comfort the us as "sheep" because they convince us he has
the necessary equipment to dispose of any evil or enemy we may meet in the
darkness. What is your impression of God? A gentle Shepherd or an angry
ogre eager to beat us? Note that the shepherd was not waiting for the
sheep to take one false step so he could whap them. Our Shepherd is gentle
in His directing & even in His disciplining of His sheep. Note also that
while God may not always use His power to keep us out of trials, His
presence and His power will always be with us to keep us through our
At times the
shepherd will throw his rod at a stubborn, straying sheep that refuses to
hear his voice. At other times he gently nudges the stray with the end of
his six-foot staff, crooked at one end to fit his strong hand.
Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller, Zondervan
NOTE: As alluded to above,
God frequently uses the metaphor of
sheep to describe mankind, but be aware that most of the Old
Testament sheep metaphors refer to Israel. I personally think that
many of these passages can be legitimately applied to believers today
and that is the general approach of these notes (cf Jn 10:16). I do
not believe however that the church has replaced Israel (cf
Jer 31, esp Jer 31:36; see also
Ro 11:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24,
25, 26, 27 -
see notes)nor that God's covenant
promises & plans for Israel will culminate & be brought to fruition until
Messiah returns to reign in Jerusalem as the King of kings & LORD of
What is the impression
of the "God of the Old Testament" in many people's mind?
They picture a God Who is fearful, awesome, majestic & Who seems distant &
often far removed from their personal life & their everyday trials &
How does Psalm 23:1
correct this all too common misconception of a "distant" almost impersonal
God in the Old Testament?
David describes God not as "a" Shepherd or even "the" Shepherd but as "my"
Shepherd, which pictures the personal, intimate concern God has for every
aspect of the life of His "sheep". Yes,
God is the "high & exalted One Who lives forever, Whose name is Holy"
but He draws near to care for His "lowly" sheep. (see
Keep in mind that "shepherds"
in the Oriental world were not the most respected profession & yet the One
possessing all power & Who knows no limits, deigns to identify with a
Ken Hemphill adds:
The Creator of the
universe fashioned each of us distinctively and uniquely to be who we are,
but His individual concern did not cease at the point of creation. As the
Good Shepherd, He knows His sheep by name. This singular thought is so
profound that it defies our comprehension. The personal pronouns in the
23rd Psalm create a unique picture of a shepherd who lives with his flock,
serves as their guide, caregiver, and protector. David could look back
over his life and declare, "The Lord is my shepherd."
We are told in the Babylonian Talmud that some of the ancient rabbis would
conclude their Passover service by singing, "The Lord is my shepherd, I
shall not want."
What truth is
implicit in the name Jehovah Roi?
The LORD is
MY Shepherd = Jehovah Roi. He is not just "a" Shepherd or
"Israel's" Shepherd, but is my own personal Shepherd.
Jehovah = Covenant name of God, the
self-existent & self-sustaining One Who needs nothing & Who possesses
everything we need. He is the "I Am" ("I Am... all the "sheep" will
D. Followwill writes that
To better capture what this divine name means here, we could translate
it literally "He Who Is Here.
Thus, this first clause says literally, "He Who Is Here is my shepherd." This God is not elsewhere and otherwise engaged in bigger things. This
Lord who is here, he is my Shepherd.... So
much of true Christian faith has to do with the personal pronouns.
Doubting Thomas, after poking his fingers into Jesus' wounds, finally
believed in the resurrected Christ and said, "My Lord and My God!
is speaking of an intimate one-to-one relationship with God"
"Give me ten million dollars, and one reversal of fortune may
scatter it. Give me a spiritual hold on the divine assurance that “the
Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want” and I am set for life. I cannot go
broke with this stock in my hand. I can never be bankrupt with this
security...Do not give me ready cash; give me a checkbook and let me
withdraw what I need. This is how God works with the believer. God does
not immediately transfer the inheritance; He lets us draw what we need out
of the riches of His fullness in Christ Jesus. “The LORD is my Shepherd;
I shall not want.” What a glorious inheritance! Walk up and down it. Rest
on it. It will be a soft downy pillow for you to lie on.....If you
disregard this truth—“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want”—you
know nothing about its preciousness....I often think of that great
promise—I do not know where there is a larger one—that “no good thing
will He withhold from those that walk uprightly” (Ps. 84:11, 10, 12). “No good thing!” It is a mercy that
the word good is there. If it had said, “He will withhold
nothing,” we might ask for many things that would be bad for us. But it
says “No good thing!” Spiritual mercies
are good. They are more than good. They are the best, and you may well ask
for them. If no good thing will be withheld, certainly the best things
will be given. Ask then, Christian, for He is your Shepherd, and you will
not want. He will supply your need. He will give you whatever you require.
Ask in faith, never doubting, and He will give you what you really need."
is this, that the infinite Lord assumes towards his people the office and
character of a Shepherd! It should be the subject of grateful admiration
that the great God allows himself to be compared to anything which will
set forth his great love and care for his own people. David had himself
been a keeper of sheep, and understood both the needs of the sheep and the
many cares of a shepherd. He compares himself to a creature weak,
defenseless & foolish & he takes God to be his Provider, Preserver,
Director, &, indeed, his everything. No man has a right to consider
himself the Lord's sheep unless his nature has been renewed for the
scriptural description of unconverted men does not picture them as sheep,
but as wolves or goats. A sheep is an object
of property, not a wild animal; its owner sets great store by it, and
frequently it is bought with a great price. It is well to know, as
certainly David did, that we belong to the Lord. There is a noble tone of
confidence about this sentence. There is no "if" nor "but," nor even "I
hope so;" but he says, "The Lord is my shepherd." We must cultivate
the spirit of assured dependence upon our heavenly Father. The sweetest
word of the whole is that monosyllable, "My." He does not say, "The
Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the
multitude as his flock," but "The Lord is my shepherd;" if he be a
Shepherd to no one else, he is a Shepherd to me; he cares
for me, watches over me, and preserves me. The words
are in the present tense. Whatever be the believer's position, he
is even now under the pastoral care of Jehovah." (Ref)
How is God first pictured as a Shepherd in Genesis 48:15?
Ge 48:15 (Jacob) blessed Joseph &
said "The God before Whom my fathers Abraham & Isaac walked, the God
Who has been my
Shepherd all my life to this day"
Notice Jacob (meaning "usurper",
"supplanter", "deceiver") calls the covenant
keeping God His own personal Shepherd, highlighting the tender care &
watchfulness God had shown for Jacob all the days of his life, despite his
faults. Jehovah can be your personal Shepherd regardless of your past
failures or present faults.
Remember that "he who
comes to God must believe that He is & that He is a rewarder of those who
seek Him." (Heb 11:6note)
How does Isaiah
40:11 portray Jehovah as a Shepherd?
Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His
arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will
gently lead the nursing ewes.
& read Spurgeon
Spurgeon's insights on this beautiful verse
Why doth he carry
the lambs in his bosom? Because He hath a tender heart & any weakness at
once melts His heart. The sighs, the ignorance, the feebleness of the
little ones of His flock draw forth His compassion. It is His office, as a
faithful High Priest, to consider the weak. Besides, He
purchased them with blood, they are His property: He
must & will
care for that which cost Him so dear. Then He is responsible for
each lamb, bound by
covenant engagements not to lose one.
Ezekiel 34:11-16 teach about God's as a
Note that Ezekiel
34 is a prophecy that applies to Israel &
will not be fulfilled until the "Chief Shepherd" (1Pe 5:4-note)
returns to set up His 1000 year Messianic kingdom & fulfill the promises
Abrahamic covenant. Our purpose for
reviewing this text is to see what it teaches about God as a Shepherd, so
read it through & list out the actions of the Shepherd - look especially
at the verbs & truths repeated. Click on the relevant verb
definitions for additional insights.
search for My
seek them out.12 As a
on "cares") for his
herd in the
day when he is
so I will
care for My
sheep and will
which they were
scattered on a
out from the
to their own
land; and I
Israel by the
streams & in
places of the
land. 14 I will
ground will be
There they will
pasture on the
Israel. 15 "I
flock and I
lead them to rest,"
GOD 16 "I will
sick; but the
fat and the
strong I will
destroy. I will
feed them with
God as our
(rescues, snatches away, saves, meditate on the 43 uses in
(plucks = same word Ps 25:14),
leads to rest
(restores = same word Ps 23:33)
word in Ps 147:3-Spurgeon
Ps 51:17 -Spurgeon)
Will Jehovah Roi not do the same for His sheep who "are
What tender care from the
Shepherd have you experienced this past week?
Are you running into the
security & safety of His "sheepfold" when faced with trials, anxieties,
Is Jehovah Roi not worthy
of all our thanksgivings?
Who is the
"Shepherd" according to John 10? For context note who Jesus is addressing
say to you,
he who does not
enter by the
door into the
fold of the
way, he is a
thief and a
But he who
enters by the
door is a
3 To him the
voice, and he
out. 4 When
them, and the
simply will not
do not know the
them, but they did not
which He had
them. 7 So
said to them
say to you,
before Me are
sheep did not
he will be
go in and out
life for the
12 "He who is a
hand, and not
who is not
owner of the
them. 13 "He flees
because he is
hand and is
own and My
knows Me and
life for the
which are not
Torrey's Topic on Christ, the Shepherd)
The helplessness of sheep helps to explain the actions and
qualities of a good shepherd, who is a case study in care and
compassion. It was the task of a shepherd to lead sheep from
nighttime protection in a sheepfold on safe paths to places of grazing and
watering. After morning grazing and watering, sheep typically lie down for
several hours at midday in a shady or cool place (Song 1:7), returning
at night to the sheepfold, where the shepherd would attend to fevered or
To protect sheep against predators, shepherds would carry two pieces of
equipment, the *“rod and staff” of Psalm 23:4, one of them a club
like weapon and the other the familiar crook used for protection, rescue
and placing across the backs of sheep to count them as they entered the
sheepfold (a process known as “the rodding of the sheep”; see Lev
27:32). Psalm 23, built around a typical day in the life of a shepherd,
is a virtual handbook of these shepherding practices.
It is good to
remember several facts about the Good Shepherd:
(1) He owns the sheep. (cf
1Cor 6:18 19, 20, Titus 2:11, 12, 13, 14,
The Septuagint for "LORD" (Jehovah) in Ps 23:1 is "kurios" which means the
possessor, owner, master or one who has control over another. An
interesting question then would be to ask "Can He be my Shepherd and not
be my Kurios (Lord, Master)?" Don't answer this one too quickly.
(2) He always knows where He is leading & is not aimlessly casting about
for the oasis. Remember what the Good Shepherd said to His sheep? It was
Me" (Mt 4:19, cp Mark 8:34, 35, 36, Lk 9:23) for He knew where He was
(3) He calls His sheep by name
(Jn 10:3). Each individual in the flock is known well and is an integral member of the
flock, so much so that it is immediately missed if it strays, even when it
is one out of a hundred
(4) Everything the Shepherd
does is for the good of His sheep. His all-consuming concern is for them,
not for Himself nor for the suffering he may endure along the journey (Jn
10:11,15, 1Pe 2:24, 25, Mark 10:45).
Finally, this Shepherd never, ever leaves the sheep during the entire
journey (Heb 13:5, 6-notes).
And he will lead them to their final destination-the sheep will get home
What shift in
metaphors does David make in verse 5 of Psalm 23?
Ps 23:5 Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of
my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
Although not everyone agrees,
it seems that David now shifts the metaphor from that of a shepherd to
that of a gracious host. One lesson here is that no metaphor for God is
all encompassing enough to fully describe the enormity of His character &
largeness of His heart. For context remember that David faced many
enemies: Lions & bears, Goliath, an enraged King Saul, Philistines and
probably most painful of all open rebellion from his son Absalom. So in
this setting we discover that our Shepherd has become our host, serving us
a banquet in the presence of our enemies. Kidner adds
“The shepherd imagery has
served its purpose, to be replaced by one of greater intimacy.”
What is the message David intends to convey with this picture?
First let's look at our "enemies"
& then at what the "table"
Who are our enemies
Enemies is an interesting Hebrew word
that literally means to bind up something & can refer to anything
that is narrow or confining. It pictures one who is in dire straits or
distress. It pictures a strong emotional response experienced when pressed
externally by enemies or internally by wrong decisions or passions as for
example when Jacob was confronted by Esau (Ge 32:7).
Followwill adds some helpful thoughts on who our "enemies" are:
tells us from his own experience that our enemies will sometimes press us
from within and without. (2Co 7:5
& Torrey's topic "Warfare
of the Saints")
From within we may be attacked by various anxieties & fears, by an
inner voice of self-doubt or self-condemnation that plagues us or by lies
that assail us with terrifying "what if?" scenarios about which we obsess.
From without we often face persecution for believing in Jesus
Christ in this anti-Christian age, or we face rejection when our Christian
identity becomes known among our family and friends. Some of our enemies
today may simply be those who love to see us fail or those who are quick
to criticize us or marginalize our efforts. But whoever our enemies may
be, when they surround us, it is very easy to focus exclusively on them.
It becomes difficult to think about anything else. But in
this maelstrom of conflict, God steps between us and our enemies. We would
expect him to appear in this scene as the mighty
Jehovah Sabaoth (LORD
of hosts - of armies), whose
strong right arm wields his sword to execute justice and wipe out our
enemies. But instead, God appears here as a humble host serving a banquet;
focused exclusively on honoring us, welcoming us, and meeting our every
need. He appears totally oblivious to our enemies-he has our enemies
totally under his control! The poetic shock of this scene is immense: In
the verse before when evil threatened, God bristled as a powerful Shepherd
armed with rod and staff...but when the enemies actually surround us, God
humbly serves us a totally unexpected banquet." (Ref)
What then does
"prepare a table"
This word pictures God's provision for man's needs (Ps 78:19 Then they
spoke against God; They said, "Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
Luke 22:28, 29, 30
describes a yet future "table" (Gk =
trapeza) when Jesus' disciples
will sit at His table in the Messianic Kingdom. (cf Rev 19:9 -note "the
supper of the
In the ancient Near East the hospitality offered to a traveler was of
great significance. According to the Bedouin law of hospitality, once a
traveler was received into the shepherd’s tent & his host had spread
food before him, he was guaranteed immunity from enemies who might be
attempting to overtake him. In pastoral circles no human protection was
greater than that afforded by the hospitality of a Bedouin chief. No
greater security or comfort could be obtained by a traveler in the ancient
Near East than to be offered the hospitality of a home. Even an enemy,
once served a meal, was totally secure for as long as his visit should
last. It was understood that this was a provision of shelter and food, but
even more it was a guarantee of protection from harm. This figure then
encompasses all the figures David has used before in which God feeds,
provides, leads and protects -- all bound up in this symbol of a gracious
Spurgeon adds this
Thou preparest a table," just as a servant does when he
unfolds the damask cloth and displays the ornaments of the feast on an
ordinary peaceful occasion. Nothing is hurried, there is no confusion, no
disturbance, the enemy is at the door, and yet God prepares a table, and
the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were in perfect peace.
Oh! the peace which Jehovah gives to his people, even in the midst of the
most trying circumstances! (Ref)
What is the picture
"anointed my head with oil" & "My cup overflows"?
Both activities represent the first two things a gracious host would
do for an honored guest in David's day. The host would take a small clay
pitcher with a very narrow neck, break the neck and pour the perfumed oil
over the guest's head until it drips onto his beard and clothes, thus
anointing him with a sweet smell. What a scene of blessing and honor (see
Ps 104:15, Eccl 9:8, Lk 7:46) The psalmist’s head was anointed with oil, a
generous gesture which bestowed honor on him as an esteemed guest.
The easterns use oil more than we do, and probably are wiser in
this respect than we are: they delight in anointing with perfumed oils,
and regard the shining of the face as a choice emblem of joy."
Others have written "The ancients made much use of oil to beautify
their persons. Oil and perfumes were symbolic of rejoicing, and as such
they would be used on festive occasions
enough, a full cup but more than enough, an overflowing cup, not
half-filled, but running over, not “leftovers” but abundantly given. God’s
provision is as abundant as the drink offered to a guest by a generous
host. The lavish treatment of the guest is indicative of the loving
care of God for His people. (cf Eph 3:20 -note).
Annie Flint Johnson offers this
His love has no
His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men:
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
What is David's
conclusion? How certain is he of his conclusion?
(truly, verily, certainly)
is the first word in the original Hebrew sentence & according to The Theological
Wordbook of the Old Testament, it signifies "affirmative emphasis". If
indeed this psalm was written later in David's life, he had many times
experienced the good hand of the Lord upon him. And so David concludes
this great song with this affirmation of Jehovah's faithfulness.
David (& us) all the
days of our life? What is the idea inherent in the verb "follow"?
lovingkindness (note on God's mercy)" will not just "follow" but will actively pursue me, which
more accurately reflects the meaning of this Hebrew verb (the
translates it with a Greek verb meaning to "search for eagerly, to track
down, to hunt for someone as in Mark 1:36) What a great thought - it's
almost as if "goodness" and "mercy" are God's two "sheepdogs" that track me
down nipping at my heels when I go astray or wander off the path.
describes the attribute of God
of God) which gives to others, not
according to what they deserve but according to His good will & kindness
may be appended to all his other
attributes. His wrath is good. His mercy is good. His justice is good. His
holiness is good. His love is good. Everything God does is good. There is
nothing but goodness in His being! Since God is good, He always has our
best interests at heart. That must be true and if we are going to be
content, we must believe it & lay hold of this profound truth by faith
(not by sight). Because God is good, nothing happened in David's
life that was not for his ultimate good. This truth by no means downplays
the pain of tragedy or the sorrow of unexpected loss (as when David's son
Absalom was killed). We all know what it is to stand by the graveside and
say farewell to those I love and we all have wept many tears. But no matter
-- GOD IS GOOD. His other great attribute of
Him from being anything other than GOOD... ALL THE TIME. Darkness veils His
lovely face so we must lean on His unchanging grace, knowing that He is
still GOOD, even in the valley of the shadow of death.
Goodness supplies our needs, and
blots out our sins.
LOVINGKINDNESS (hesed, checed) is a covenant term with the basic meaning of “loyal love”
or “steadfast love.” Because it is related to God's covenant , this
attribute expresses the idea of unfailing love & faithfulness.
Together with goodness it suggests the steady kindness and support that
one can count on in the family or between firm friends. In the past David
had experienced enemies pursuing him but now it is God's goodness &
lovingkindness which is actively pursuing him.
What's David's final
"I will dwell in the
house of the LORD forever".
David knew that
he was not yet home & Christian you too can know that no matter what your
current experience, you are not home yet. But eternity future is not far
away for any of us where we will learn in the final & eternal sense that
Jehovah is enough & we will never want for anything throughout eternity.
John described our future state beautifully in Rev 7:16-17
They will hunger no
longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor
any heat for the
Lamb in the
center of the throne will be their
Shepherd, and will guide them
to springs of the water of life and God will wipe every tear from their
eyes (see Rev 7:16, 17-
Hayford has an nice summary statement:
"One day Jesus
the Chief Shepherd (1Pe 5:4-note)
will return, gather His whole flock into one fold, and divide the
sheep from the goats (Mt 25:31, 32, 33). Until that time, Jesus continues
His search for every lost sheep (Mt 18:12, 13, 14). His sheep are to yield
themselves to Him for His useful service until, at last, they “will dwell
in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps 23:6). Hayford's Bible Handbook Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Cares" or "Looks after" in
Ezekiel 34:12 suggests careful examination of each animal. Our Shepherd-God is a good
shepherd. He knows well the condition of His flock. He sees the marks of
sorrow on each face. He knows every cut and bruise, every ache and pain.
He recognizes the signs of hounding, misuse, and abuse--the wounds that
others have given us and the residue of our own resistance.
The "Shepherd's" Name is Jehovah (click
Names of God)- "I Am" ("I Am your
all in all. I Am all you will ever need" [Play
& ponder the power & personal presence & concern of your Good
Shepherd as you listen to "Do
You Not Know/All in All]
based in part on Is 40:28, 29)
What practical difference does the liberating truth that He is my personal
Shepherd make in my life?
Will the Shepherd
satisfy all of my "wants"? Asked another way, am I seeking to
satisfy my "wants" rather than trusting in the Shepherd's
provision to supply all of my needs? How does Paul amplify this truth in (Php
according to His
Jesus."? (Click for illustration of the meaning of "according to")
Clearly the Good Shepherd's
granted to us
knowledge of Him Who
called us by His
excellence." (2Pe 1:3-note)
but this does not necessarily include all of our wants.
Sometimes sheep try to drink or eat from unclean sources, but the shepherd
impedes their partaking of these sources so that they won't become ill.
Remember we "sheep" are dumb animals & we sometimes want things we don't
need, some of which could ultimately prove very harmful to our [spiritual] life. Remember the
maxim: Satiated with the Shepherd provision, we shall not be in want "for
Elohim is a
thing does He
withhold from those who
uprightly." (Ps 84:11, 10, 12, -Spurgeon
can confidently call Jehovah their personal Shepherd ("my
shepherd")? Are we the sheep of
God's pasture simply because we accept that God exists or go to church or
were raised in a Christian family or are "basically nice" folks? Jesus
through Me, he will be
saved, & will
go in & out &
Shepherd, & I
own & My
know Me" (Spurgeon's
So only those who have "entered through" Jesus are His sheep & have the
privilege to call Him their personal Shepherd.
Run into the Strong
Tower of Jehovah Roi by keeping your eyes fixed on the Good Shepherd &
Guardian of your soul:
Phillip Keller in his book "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" emphasizes that
"nothing so quieted & reassured the sheep as to see me in the field. The
presence of their master & owner& protector put them at ease as nothing else could do...in
the Christian's life, there is no substitute for the keen awareness that
my Shepherd is nearby.... There is nothing
like Christ's presence to dispel the fear, the panic, the terror of the
unknown.... it is the knowledge that my Master, my Friend, my Owner has
things under control even when they may appear calamitous. This gives me
great consolation, repose, and rest."
Click to listen to Max
McLean's dramatic reading of Psalm 23 (NIV) (when link opens click "play
Ps 23"). Then read the following true story:
At a reception, a famous actor (not Max McLean though) was asked to give a
recitation. An old preacher suggested the twenty third psalm. He did it
with great oratorical skill & sat down to prolonged applause. Then
he turned to the old preacher & asked him to recite the psalm also. In a
weak & trembling voice, the kindly man uttered the same simple
Psalm, but no one applauded this time. People began surreptitiously to
wipe away their tears. The actor rose again. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he
said, “I communicated with your ears and your eyes. I know the words. But
my old friend here communicated with your hearts. He knows the Shepherd.”
Do you know Him?
An Example of one who came to know the LORD in the valley of the shadow
When I think of someone discovering quiet intimacy with the Lord in the
valley of deep darkness, surrounded by evil but divinely protected by him,
I think of Harriet Tubman. Last summer our family was studying the decade
of the 1850s, and we read a biography of this great lady to our children.
Harriet Tubman was a black slave born in 1820 on a farm in Maryland. She
had an opportunity to escape from her master by traveling at night through
open fields and across streams into the free state of
She escaped successfully in 1847, and embarked on a career as a conductor
on what became known as the Underground Railroad. During the years from
1849-1860, she made nineteen trips to the South to lead groups of slaves
to freedom in the North. She could travel only at night, following a
different route each trip to avoid detection by slave hunters. She took
nothing with her on her life-and-death errands except her gun and a
sixth sense for knowing when she was being
followed. This woman didn't have much in terms of worldly goods,
background, or education, but she had enough. Here, in her own words, was
her description of how she made it through all those dark nights: "'Twarn't
me, 'twas the Lord. I always told Him, 'I trust You. I don't know where to
go or what to do, but I expect You to lead me.' And He always did."
Just imagine the closeness she must have felt with Jesus Christ at every
step along that frightening "railroad!" The Lord was Harriet Tubman's
Shepherd. And through her, he was enough to lead some three hundred slaves
to freedom through that deep darkness." (Ref)
once a shepherd himself, in his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), relates that the strange thing about sheep is
that because of their very makeup, it is almost impossible for them to be
made to lie down unless four requirements are met.
due to their timidity, they must be free from all fear.
(2) because of their sociability, they must be free from friction with
others of their kind.
(3) they must be free from flies or parasites if they are to relax.
(4) they will not lie down unless free from hunger. It is only the
shepherd who can provide release from all these anxieties.
As our Good
Shepherd, the Lord meets all these needs for us, so that we can “lie down
in green pastures,” with our souls restored by his care.
Spurgeon comments on
Ps 23:4 "He leads me":
We wish for many things that we do not
really need, and there is no promise that we will have all we wish for.
God has not promised anything more than what we need. But He will give us
that. Lift up your head. Do not be afraid. God is with you. He will turn
darkness into light and bitter into sweet. All the way, He has led you.
And all the way, He will lead you. Let this be your constant joy. He is
your Shepherd. You will not lack what is absolutely necessary. Whatever
you really require, you will be given it by your tender Father’s lavish
hand. Believer, this is your estate, your inheritance, your annual income,
your yearly living: He is your Shepherd, and you shall not want (Ps.
23:1). What is your income? “It varies,” you say. Oh, but your spiritual
income is always the same, for the Lord is your Shepherd, and you shall
not want. It is my income, and it is your income. It is the income of the
poorest pauper who has an interest in God’s grace. It is the income of the
believing orphan who has no other friend. It is the orphan’s fortune, for
the Lord is his Shepherd, and he shall not want. It is the widow’s
inheritance, for the Lord is her Shepherd, and she shall not want. It is
the believer’s share, the believer’s portion, and the believer’s blessing.
The Lord is our Shepherd. We shall not want."
Spurgeon on Ps 23:4:
“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”
(Ps. 23:4). I intended to keep this choice promise in reserve until I came
near the river Jordan. Then in my last hour, I hoped to enjoy its
sweetness. But the other day I needed this heavenly loaf, and I ate it.
Children are told that they cannot have their cake and eat it too, but
this rule does not apply to God’s comforts. You can have a promise and
enjoy it too. Several days ago, when a trial howled around me, I ate the
honey out of this verse. Its sweetness is still there, and no doubt I will
enjoy this promise again when I come near death’s gate. The blessed Holy
Spirit has already sealed it to my soul with rich and full comfort. Would
to God that every believer who is burdened and depressed might find it
precious. Although this promise has an inexpressibly delightful
application to the dying, it is also for the living. If you are depressed
by any difficult trial, then you are walking through the valley of
death-shade; I urge you to repeat this promise, and may the Lord help you
to feel its truth. “Yea, though (even now) 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.” The words are not in the future tense;
they are not reserved for a future moment, so use them now. Do not let
this song lie on the shelf until your last day. Sing it all the days of
writes in "Prayer, Praise & Promises":
Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want" (v1). That must be one of the most
familiar quotations from the Old Testament. Everybody has some kind of
shepherd. Jeremiah said, "It is not in man who walks to direct his own
steps" (Jer 10:23). We are like lost sheep, not able to guide our own
lives. We need a shepherd. Who is your shepherd?
When the Lord is your Shepherd, what
will happen in your life?
you will live a day at a time. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life" (v6). Psalm 23 talks about all the days of our
lives, and they are lived one day at a time when the Lord is our Shepherd.
Someone has said that the average person is being crucified between two
thieves--the regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow.
Consequently, he can't enjoy today.
when the Lord is your Shepherd, you listen for His voice. In
the Lord Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice." The Shepherd does not drive his
sheep from behind. Rather, He calls them from ahead. How do we listen
to the Lord's voice? Through the Word of God.
when the Lord is your Shepherd, you must expect changes. You may have
green pastures and still waters. Then you go through the valley of the
shadow of death. You have a table in the presence of your enemies. Then
you live in the house of the Lord (heaven) forever. You will experience
changes in life. Expect them; don't be afraid of them. When you follow
the Shepherd, the future is your friend, because the Lord is going
before you. Live one day at a time, following the Shepherd, and you won't
have to be afraid. Some people fail to adapt to life's inevitable changes.
As a believer, you need never fear the future. Trust the Shepherd, who
goes before you, and listen to His Word. Commit this day to the Lord
and thank Him for His guidance."
Dr. Wiersbe goes
on to add:
depicts Jesus Christ as the Great Shepherd living for His sheep. It also
gives us two assurances.
Jesus shepherds us throughout each day.
Dr. Harry Ironside used to say that
goodness and mercy are the two sheepdogs that help keep the sheep where
they belong. We live our lives one day at a time, because God built the
universe to run one day at a time. There must be a time for labor and a
time for rest. When we try to live two or three days at a time, we cannot
enjoy today. Eventually, this catches up with us physically, emotionally
and spiritually. We need to remember that "as thy days, so shall thy
strength be" (Dt. 33:25).
As His sheep, we can begin each day with confidence.
tells us that Jesus goes before His sheep. We
cannot walk into any experience where Jesus has not first been. Though
we may not know or understand what is taking place around us, we will fear
no evil because we are close to the Shepherd. His rod takes care of the
enemies; His staff takes care of the sheep (discipline and guidance). We
can stay close to the Shepherd through His Word.
assurance is that Jesus shepherds us all the days of our lives. This psalm
is a summary of the Christian life. Verses 1 and 2 speak of childhood.
Children need protection and provision. God loves and watches over them.
Verse 3 speaks of youth. Teenagers need direction and discipline. The
Great Shepherd finds these wandering youth and brings them back. Verses 4
and 5 talk about the middle years. These are not easy years, when the
children are growing up and there are bills to pay. Verse 6 speaks of the
We don't understand
why some things happen. But one day we'll realize that everything is under
God's goodness and mercy. Then we'll look ahead and see His house.
What are your needs today? Stay close to the Shepherd by reading the Word.
Resolve to follow His leading."
Spurgeon comments on
sheep following the Shepherd from (Jn 10:27)
We should follow our Lord as
unhesitatingly as sheep follow their shepherd, for he has a right to lead
us wherever he pleases. We are not our own, we are bought with a price-let
us recognize the rights of the redeeming blood. The soldier follows his
captain, the servant obeys his master, much more must we follow our
Redeemer, to whom we are a purchased possession. We are not true to our
profession of being Christians, if we question the bidding of our Leader
and Commander. Submission is our duty, calling is our folly. Often might
our Lord say to us as to Peter, "What is that to thee? Follow thou me."
Wherever Jesus may lead us, he goes before us. If we know not where we go,
we know with whom we go. With such a companion, who will dread the perils
of the road? The journey may be long, but his everlasting arms will carry
us to the end. The presence of Jesus is the assurance of eternal
salvation, because he lives, we shall live also. We should follow Christ
in simplicity and faith, because the paths in which he leads us all end in
glory and immortality. It is true they may not be smooth paths-they may be
covered with sharp flinty trials, but they lead to the "city which hath
foundations, whose builder and maker is God." "All the paths of the Lord
are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant." Let us put full trust
in our Leader, since we know that, come prosperity or adversity, sickness
or health, popularity or contempt, his purpose shall be worked out, and
that purpose shall be pure, unmingled good to every heir of mercy. We
shall find it sweet to go up the bleak side of the hill with Christ; and
when rain and snow blow into our faces, his dear love will make us far
more blest than those who sit at home and warm their hands at the world's
fire. To the top of Amana, to the dens of lions, or to the hills of
leopards, we will follow our Beloved. Precious Jesus, draw us, and we will
run after thee.
Will Supply My Need
by Isaac Watts
My Shepherd will supply my
Jehovah is His Name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy’s sake,
In paths of truth and grace.
When I walk thru the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.
The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.
Both devotionals on Isaiah 40:11 are worth reading:
"Who is He of Whom such
gracious words are spoken? He is THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Why doth He carry the
lambs in His bosom? Because He hath a tender heart, and any weakness at
once melts His heart. The sighs, the ignorance, the feebleness of the
little ones of his flock draw forth His compassion. It is His office, as a
faithful High Priest, to consider the weak. Besides, He purchased them
with blood, they are His property: He must and will care for that which
cost him so dear. Then He is responsible for each lamb, bound by covenant
engagements not to lose one. Moreover, they are all a part of His glory
and reward. But how may we understand the expression, "He will carry
them"? Sometimes He carries them by not permitting them to endure much
trial. Providence deals tenderly with them. Often they are "carried" by
being filled with an unusual degree of love, so that they bear up and
stand fast. Though their knowledge may not be deep, they have great
sweetness in what they do know. Frequently He "carries" them by giving
them a very simple faith, which takes the promise just as it stands, and
believingly runs with every trouble straight to Jesus. The simplicity of
their faith gives them an unusual degree of confidence, which carries them
above the world. "He carries the lambs in His bosom." Here is
boundless affection. Would He put them in His bosom if He did not love
them much? Here is tender nearness: so near are they, that they could not
possibly be nearer. Here is hallowed familiarity: there are precious
love-passages between Christ and his weak ones. Here is perfect safety: in
His bosom who can hurt them? They must hurt the Shepherd first. Here is
perfect rest and sweetest comfort. Surely we are not sufficiently sensible
of the infinite tenderness of Jesus! (C H Spurgeon, Morning and Evening)
Another devotional by Spurgeon on Isaiah 40:11:
"Our good Shepherd
has in His flock a variety of experiences, some are strong in the Lord,
and others are weak in faith, but He is impartial in His care for all His
sheep, and the weakest lamb is as dear to Him as the most advanced of the
flock. Lambs are wont to lag behind, prone to wander, and apt to grow
weary, but from all the danger of these infirmities the Shepherd protects
them with His arm of power. He finds new-born souls, like young lambs,
ready to perish-He nourishes them till life becomes vigorous; He finds
weak minds ready to faint and die-He consoles them and renews their
strength. All the little ones He gathers, for it is not the will of our
heavenly Father that one of them should perish. What a quick eye He must
have to see them all! What a tender heart to care for them all! What a
far- reaching and potent arm, to gather them all! In His lifetime on earth
He was a great gatherer of the weaker sort, and now that He dwells in
heaven, His loving heart yearns towards the meek and contrite, the timid
and feeble, the fearful and fainting here below. How gently did He gather
me to Himself, to His truth, to His blood, to His love, to His church!
With what effectual grace did He compel me to come to Himself! Since my
first conversion, how frequently has He restored me from my wanderings,
and once again folded me within the circle of His everlasting arm! The
best of all is, that He does it all himself personally, not delegating the
task of love, but condescending Himself to rescue and preserve His most
unworthy servant. How shall I love Him enough or serve Him worthily? I
would fain make His name great unto the ends of the earth, but what can my
feebleness do for Him? Great Shepherd, add to Thy mercies this one other,
a heart to love Thee more truly as I ought." (C H Spurgeon, Morning
Spurgeon on Isaiah
Here a confession of sin common to all
the elect people of God. They have all fallen, and therefore, in common
chorus, they all say, from the first who entered heaven to the last who
shall enter there, "All we like sheep have gone astray." The confession,
while thus unanimous, is also special and particular: "We have turned
every one to his own way." There is a peculiar sinfulness about every one
of the individuals; all are sinful, but each one with some special
aggravation not found in his fellow. It is the mark of genuine repentance
that while it naturally associates itself with other penitents, it also
takes up a position of loneliness. "We have turned every one to his own
way," is a confession that each man had sinned against light peculiar to
himself, or sinned with an aggravation which he could not perceive in
others. This confession is unreserved; there is not a word to detract from
its force, nor a syllable by way of excuse. The confession is a giving up
of all pleas of self-righteousness. It is the declaration of men who are
consciously guilty-guilty with aggravations, guilty without excuse: they
stand with their weapons of rebellion broken in pieces, and cry, "All we
like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way." Yet
we hear no dolorous wailings attending this confession of sin; for the
next sentence makes it almost a song. "The Lord hath laid on him the
iniquity of us all." It is the most grievous sentence of the three, but it
overflows with comfort. Strange is it that where misery was concentrated
mercy reigned; where sorrow reached her climax weary souls find rest. The
Saviour bruised is the healing of bruised hearts. See how the lowliest
penitence gives place to assured confidence through simply gazing at
Christ on the cross! (C H Spurgeon, Morning and Evening)
Spurgeon on Psalms
23:4 "I will fear no evil: for thou art with
Behold, how independent of outward
circumstances the Holy Ghost can make the Christian! What a bright light
may shine within us when it is all dark without! How firm, how happy, how
calm, how peaceful we may be, when the world shakes to and fro, and the
pillars of the earth are removed! Even death itself, with all its terrible
influences, has no power to suspend the music of a Christian's heart, but
rather makes that music become more sweet, more clear, more heavenly, till
the last kind act which death can do is to let the earthly strain melt
into the heavenly chorus, the temporal joy into the eternal bliss! Let us
have confidence, then, in the blessed Spirit's power to comfort us. Dear
reader, are you looking forward to poverty? Fear not; the divine Spirit
can give you, in your want, a greater plenty than the rich have in their
abundance. You know not what joys may be stored up for you in the cottage
around which grace will plant the roses of content. Are you conscious of a
growing failure of your bodily powers? Do you expect to suffer long nights
of languishing and days of pain? O be not sad! That bed may become a
throne to you. You little know how every pang that shoots through your
body may be a refining fire to consume your dross-a beam of glory to light
up the secret parts of your soul. Are the eyes growing dim? Jesus will be
your light. Do the ears fail you? Jesus' name will be your soul's best
music, and his person your dear delight. Socrates used to say,
"Philosophers can be happy without music;" and Christians can be happier
than philosophers when all outward causes of rejoicing are withdrawn. In
thee, my God, my heart shall triumph, come what may of ills without! By
thy power, O blessed Spirit, my heart shall be exceeding glad, though all
things should fail me here below. (C H Spurgeon, Morning and Evening)
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