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Psalms 23:1  (King James Version)
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Commentaries:
<< Psalms 22:31   Psalms 23:2 >>


Psalm 23:1-6

Here is a summary of the lessons in this amazing psalm:

Verse 1: Do I really recognize God's right to me? Do I respond to His management?

Verse 2: Sheep must be free from tension within the flock, fear from the outside (e.g., pests, predators), and not hungry.

Verse 3: Though we may become cast down, our Shepherd will seek us out to save us from ourselves.

Verse 4:

  1. Instead of loving myself most, I am willing to love Christ best and others at least as much as myself.
  2. Instead of being one of the crowd, I am willing to be singled out and set apart from it.
  3. Instead of insisting on my own rights, I am willing to forgo them in favor of others.
  4. Instead of being boss, I am willing to be at the bottom of the heap and to eliminate the drive for self-assertion, self-determination, and self-pleasing.
  5. Instead of finding fault with life and always asking why, I am willing to accept every circumstance in life in an attitude of gratitude.
  6. Instead of asserting my will, I am willing to learn to cooperate with God's wishes.

Verse 5: The only way to the tablelands (our goal) is through testing and trial, but we learn through these that He is with us. His rod denotes correction and His staff denotes guidance.

Verse 6: He has gone on before us to prepare the tableland. He thoroughly identifies with us and ensures that we can make it. He anoints us, cares for us continually, and promises that we will be in His flock.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 23 (Part 3)



Psalm 23:1-5

Psalm 23:1 says, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want," another instance of Yahweh. This name for God is frequently combined with other words to form more specific descriptions of Him. Psalm 23 is in reality a brief expounding of eight names of God in the first five verses. It brings to light:

YHWH-Roi—God our shepherd—Psalm 80:1.

YHWH-Jireh—God our provider—Genesis 22:14.

YHWH-Shalom—God our peace—Judges 6:24.

YHWH-Nissi—God is my banner—Exodus 17:15.

YHWH-Ropheka—God our healer—Exodus 15:26.

YHWH-Zidkenu—God our righteousness—Jeremiah 23:6.

YHWH-Shammah—God is present—Ezekiel 48:35.

YHWH-Mekaddishkem—God who sanctifies—Exodus 31:13.

Each of these names provides us with building blocks of knowledge to strengthen and encourage us in the use of faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment



Psalm 23:1

Because our God is our Shepherd—and He is the most powerful, wise, balanced, loving, and caring Being ever—we are never going to want, that is, lack for proper management. It does not mean that we will never lack things. David himself lacked things. There were times when David did not have a home to hang his hat in, and he had to run from cave to cave to escape Saul. There were times when he was hungry and thirsty and times when he thought his life was hanging in the balance, but he always understood that what was being worked out in his life was part of the will of God.

He knew God's attention was focused on him, and he was receiving the management that he needed in his life at that time. He understood that all the events of his life were pointed toward the goal of his being in the Kingdom of God.

We may lack things, but we will never lack the best in care and management. We will have the very best in guidance and spiritual provision at any given moment. As a result of this, we have to ask ourselves several questions: Do we recognize His right to us? He died for us. He paid for us. We belong to Him. He has every right to manage our lives in the way He sees fit.

This next question is part of the first question: Do we belong to Him? It is pretty hard to belong to Him if we do not recognize His right to us. Our answer to this question will determine how we will react under His management. If we do not react in the proper way, it is probably because we do not see ourselves as really belonging to Him or recognize that He has a right to allow these things to occur in our lives.

Do we respond to His authority? Do we find freedom and fulfillment in this arrangement? Do we have a deep sense of purpose, mission, and direction as a result of the Lord being our Shepherd?

Those are things we can respond to, meditate on, and find application for in our lives. It begins with an acknowledgment that we really do belong to Him and that we really are the recipients of the very best in management and care. We sing that "He's got the whole world in His hands," but then we act as though everybody else has the best care, but not us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 23 (Part 2)



Psalm 23:1-6

Many of us know this psalm, written from the standpoint of a sheep, by heart. Have we ever considered it to be a Sabbath psalm? Or one of God's Kingdom or of Christ's life, death, and resurrection into His rest?

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension



Psalm 23:1-3

"The LORD is my Shepherd." Could we not also say that this psalm applies to the Lamb of God, as if written from His standpoint? The Lord was His Shepherd too. Jesus said He went through what He did for all righteousness—for God's name's sake, for His glory! Consider Christ's work, His life, in these first three verses. Verse 4, then, reminds us of His death.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension



What Is Psalm 23 About?

Many things could be and have been written about this beautiful, meaningful psalm. It is chock-full of spiritual instruction, but we can only touch on a few highlights here.

The psalm begins, "The LORD is my shepherd." David, the author of this song, portrays God as a shepherd guarding His flock. He proudly, almost boastfully, proclaims himself under God's personal care. He says that God is his Protector and Provider, the One he looks to for all his needs. Christ Himself—the greater David—when He was human, said, "I can of Myself do nothing" (John 5:30). Because we are weak, corruptible, mortal human beings, we have to depend entirely upon God for everything.

The song continues, "I shall not want." Want here means "lack." David is confident that he would lack nothing to support his body and life, that God would provide all his needs. Psalm 34:9-10 echoes this sentiment, as does Matthew 6:25-34.

David writes in Psalm 23:2, "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters." David compares himself to a lamb contentedly grazing, resting, and drinking while the Shepherd watches over him. Such activities have spiritual counterparts in Bible study, meditation, and prayer. The New Testament refers to God's people as lambs or sheep (Luke 10:3; I Peter 2:25). Jesus Himself is called both a Shepherd (John 10:1-30; Hebrews 13:20; etc.) and the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36; Revelation 5:6, 12: 13:8; etc.).

The psalmist continues, "He restores my soul." David, aware he is a sinner, also knows that God redeemed him and gave him life. David elsewhere expresses his great joy at having his sins forgiven (Psalm 51).

David's next thoughts are, "He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." What is righteousness? "All Your commandments are righteousness," answers the same author in Psalm 119:172. When we obey and are blessed, God is glorified. But even the will to obey comes from God; no man can find the path to true righteousness without being led to it by God (see Romans 2:4).

Looking forward, David writes, "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." David has such confidence in God that he shows no fear even in the face of death! This peace of mind comes only from God. Paul tells the young evangelist Timothy, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7; see I John 4:18).

David goes on in Psalm 23:5, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over." God promises to bless us even though enemies may surround us. Not only will He supply our needs, but He will supply "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). Jesus says God will give to us "pressed down, shaken together, and running over" if we follow His way of give (Luke 6:38).

The psalm concludes, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Because of following God's way of life and living in the care of the Good Shepherd, David looks forward to a full physical life, and after that, abundant, eternal life in God's Kingdom.

Amen.

Additional Reading:
Goats on the Left
The Shepherd's Voice
Be Still!




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Psalms 23:1:

Psalm 23:1-5
Luke 15:3-7
John 10:3

 

<< Psalms 22:31   Psalms 23:2 >>
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