There are few passages of scripture more popular or helpful than David’s 23rd psalm. It can build faith in God’s ability to provide and protect his flock.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
As our shepherd, God meets our every need. What a reassurance it is to know there is nothing we need worry about, knowing God is our provider. Paul wrote, “...my God shall supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19).
The rest of the passage is devoted to a categorizing of the ways our needs as sheep are met by our all-providing shepherd.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
As our shepherd, God completely provides for our needs, including food, water, rest in peaceful places.
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
As our shepherd, God provides us with earthly needs, as well as spiritual guidance. Even though sheep aren’t necessarily aware of what’s best for them. the shepherd unerringly knows.
He chooses the righteous paths that will benefit the sheep and demonstrate his glorious wisdom and honor his name.
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.
As our shepherd, God protects us from evil. David often had to take his flocks through dangerous canyons and other areas. But the sheep were protected by the courage of their leader and his weapons. He protected them from bears and lions (1 Samuel 17:34-36).
In the same way, we can maintain faith in God and his promises. All things really do work for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purposes (Romans 8:28).
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Even in the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances, God’s provisions are abundant and never-failing. Our shepherd anoints — sanctifies — sets us apart with “the oil of gladness” (Isaiah 61:3).
Literally, with a physically and spiritually overflowing cup, we have more of God’s blessings than we realize.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
David was never clearer in his thinking about the grace of his God and shepherd, than when he penned this prayer hymn. Perhaps Jesus thought of this final phrase as he made his promise of a heavenly dwelling (John 14:2-3).
Thank God for being our gracious shepherd!