Is he your shepherd?

1. The Lord is MY Shepherd: Insert your name where it says my. Make this one personal...because it is personal. It is not just a relationship between sheep and shepherds...or between David and God...but it is an intimate relationship between YOU and GOD.

2. I shall NOT want: If you are in the throes of WANTING...check out your relationship with the Shepherd...or check out you checklist of your wants. "My God shall supply all your NEEDS (not your greeds) according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (and their ain't no shortage in Christ Jesus). (Philippians 4:19)

3. He makes me to lie down in green pastures (pastures of tender grass). We are now talking about what we "SHALL NOT WANT"...that our shepherd will provide. I don't know about you...but I go and go and go and go and go...until my body finally screams out...REST! When I lay down...I can almost hear my body release with an audible...aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh. Well our Shepherd...knows that we need REST...and he makes us lie down in a place of tender grass. Sure...grass is good for eating...BUT...I see a tender place to rest...not on hard, dirty, muddy soil...but tender grass.

4. He leads me beside still waters: Sheep...are...well...they...are sheepish. If the waters were would be hard to take a long, leisurely, drink of cool, clear...water. But WATER represents...not only the Holy Spirit but also The Word of God...and we drink deep of the Words of The Shepherd. We become RENEWED by the washing of the water of the Word.

5. He restores my soul: Oh for the restoration of our minds, our will....choices we make and our emotions. The Rolling Stones sang about an Emotional Rescue...but they have no clue about true rescue that we have because of our Shepherd restoring the totality of who we are...our souls. "The Kingdom of God is not meat nor drink...but (1) righteousness (right standing) (2) peace (wholeness/rest (3) joy (emotional overflow)...IN THE HOLY GHOST."
(Romans 14:17)

6. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake: As one of His children... as one of the heirs of one of His namesake...we have a promise of being led down a path. Everyone is being led down a path. Those who don't have the sheep's best interest at heart will lead us down paths of destruction. But our Shepherd...who loves us...has our best interests at heart...leads us down a path of right standing...RIGHTousness...NOT WRONGeousness. When we take those paths of WRONGeousness (aka unrighteousness)...we smear His name in the mud... and their ain't nothing worse than mud all over that white as snow wool.

7. Yea...though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...I will fear no evil: Hey...this path of RIGHTEOUSNESS...that we are being LED on BY THE SHEPHERD... may lead through VALLEYS...where there are SHADOWS of DEATH. The first thing you need to remember...that even though there are shadows in this world...shadows can only mean that there is a LIGHT. We must keep on walking...THROUGH the valley...don't set up camp and dwell there forever. Jesus CAME OUT the other side of the wilderness experience.... In the valley of the shadow of death... be sure to come out the other side.

8. I will fear no evil...for You are with me: In the valley of the shadow of death...or for that matter whatever you are going through right will have every opportunity to fear...BUT...He speaks..."Fear not." "whom shall I fear." The expected NO ONE! If He is here with you your situation, circumstance, sickness, financial difficulty? The answer was..."Fear Not." Close your eyes...and say....."fear not." ...with your eyes still closed...pray for someone in need ..and speak..."fear not" to them...because... it is a fact that the Holy Spirit in still speaking. We are the BODY OF CHRIST... the hands of Christ...the extension of there is no need for fear...He is with us. He is with you. He has a ROD used to prod us along as we need to keep on moving... and a STAFF with a pull us back for potential danger...or if we swerve off the path of righteousness. Our Shepherd...uses these tools to COMFORT times of shadows of death...because...He has NOT turned-tail and run away from the evil...but is RIGHT THERE WITH US.

9. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: The table represents a place of worship. The table represents a place of eating, food, fellowship. The table represents a place for us to recline and relax. The table is promised IN THE WILDERNESS. When sheep DON'T believe that God can prepare a table in the angers God.

10. You ANOINT my head with OIL: Oil was used to keep the flies away. The OIL is symbolic of the Holy Spirit in our the pouring out...the rubbing into...the smearing on of nard, ointment, oil. It is used of consecration, prayers for the sick, etc. "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with (1) The Holy Spirit (2) power/dunimas/dynamic ability...and how He went about (1) doing good (2) healing ALL who were oppressed by the devil. For God was with Him." (Acts 10:38) Note: Sickness/Disease are considered to be oppression by the devil... NOT blessing from God.

11. My cup runneth over: This is like the Luke 6:38 verse for me..."Give...and it shall be given unto you...(1) good measure (2) pressed down (3) shaken together (4) running over...shall men give unto your bosom. We have access to the whole table...prepared before our enemies.

12. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: I would be remiss if I did not say... The bottom line...we leave a trail of goodness and mercy where ever we go.

13. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life...FOREVER: Dwelling is taking up residence in. There is a permanency in the KINGDOM...when the Lord is your SHEPHERD.


In A Nutshell

Psalm 23, often just referred to as "The Lord is My Shepherd," is the most well known of all the psalms, and is revered by Christians and Jews alike. According to tradition, all of the psalms were written by King David, one of the earliest kings of Israel, a.k.a. the guy with the slingshot who took out Goliath. He reigned from around 1055-1015 BC, give or take a few decades (source). In other words, a really long time ago.

Many modern scholars, however, believe the psalms were actually written by several different authors, but David's supposed authorship is all part of the traditional story about them. Picture it like this: You have this enormously powerful king, the man who brought down the terrible Goliath, but through these psalms you learn that even this great figure is capable of tender and humble worship. So the psalms basically suggest that if David, who had every right to be as arrogant as Kanye West at an awards show, can practice such devotion, then everyone else sure can.

In very plain and direct language, Psalm 23 compares God to a shepherd guiding his flocks. God comforts people facing death and is a kind master who makes sure everyone in God's house is fed properly. In the Christian tradition, the shepherd is associated with Jesus Christ, who in the Gospel of John is called "The Good Shepherd." In Judaism, the shepherd is simply God, or Yahweh.

The most famous line here is "as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." It's gorgeous poetry, as musical as Shakespeare, and you have to give props to the fellows behind the King James Version of the Bible for writing such a memorable translation. We've decided to present the King James Version here, despite all the "-ests" and "-eths" that can trip you up, because it remains the most famous. Just don't forget that all the language you read is just a translation: the psalms were written in Hebrew.

Psalm 23 became especially popular after it was included in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, and it's often used in funerals. It has provided comfort for millions, and has been quoted in popular culture in countless film funeral scenes and even in Coolio's strangely poetic "Gangster's Paradise."


Why Should I Care?

It may be that the only exposure you've had to Psalm 23 is at a funeral. Or, if you haven't been to a funeral, at least you've seen one on TV.

We at Shmoop have watched the classic Hollywood "funeral scene" a million times. You know the one – you've got a gathering of mourners on a bright green lawn, all dressed in black. The women dab at their faces with handkerchiefs. Cut to the priest reciting this psalm, or maybe just the line, "as I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil." The priest drones on in a monotone, never showing any emotion. Cut to the end of the funeral when the mourners disperse. Then, for some reason, it always starts to rain. End scene.

Well, it may be stock imagery by now, but the funeral-scene version of Psalm 23 misses one thing: it's meant to be a happy and uplifting poem, folks! The Lord is like a friendly mentor, taking the speaker to all these great places, comforting him in tough times, and ending the day with a big meal. The speaker is incredibly optimistic and believes that the Lord's presence has saved him forever.

Even the much-maligned Protestant sourpuss John Calvin (sorry, Calvin-lovers, we know it's just a stereotype) could find nothing dark in this psalm. In his commentary he wrote, "This psalm is neither intermingled with prayers, nor does it complain of miseries for the purpose of obtaining relief; but it contains simply a thanksgiving [...]" (source). No miseries, no asking for stuff, just a simple "Thank you very much, Lord."

In our era, when religion is too often thought of as a transaction (I give God this, he gives me that...), it's refreshing to return to this psalm, which is purely the expression of an emotion and nothing else. It is full of that thing the priest in the Hollywood funeral scene always seems to lack: genuine human feeling.


by Ron Bender

© 2011 Bender Bytes. All Rights Reserved. | Site Map | Contact | Disclaimer | Bender Productions PO Box 337 Leola PA 17540