By Rick Elsey Pastor
West End Baptist Church, Columbia
According to Wikipedia: “sheep are frequently thought of as unintelligent animals. Their flocking behavior and quickness to flee and panic can make shepherding a difficult endeavor for the [untrained].” Sheep need a good shepherd. As a shepherd himself, David would know this to be true.
Psalm 100:3 reminds us that God sees us as the sheep of His pasture. As sheep we go astray and find ourselves helpless without a shepherd. Just like regular sheep, we need a shepherd in order to thrive and survive. In Psalm 23, David paints a beautiful picture of the Lord as our Shepherd. He praises God for every provision that is needed in our lives.
God provides for all our needs (Psalm 23:1-3). What a great assurance to know that God provides everything we need. In verses 2-3 David affirms that God provides for both the physical and spiritual needs of His sheep. Green pastures and quiet waters provide abundant nourishment. Sheep need water every day for survival. The good shepherd will always lead them to the place where they can be refreshed.
As the sheep of His pasture, we also need spiritual refreshment and direction. In verse 3 the NKJV says “[God] restores my soul.” To restore means to go back to an original state. This would be specifically relevant to David. After his sins of adultery and murder, he cries out to God for forgiveness. He requests God to restore the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51). Not only does God restore us from our sin, but He provides us with blessings for each day. Our response to those blessings is to follow Him along the right path that He has provided. The good shepherd will always lead His sheep to the right place.
God provides for our protection (Psalm 23:4-5). The paths we follow will at times lead us to some dark valleys and dangerous places. The potential for crippling fear is real, but the presence and the protection of the shepherd enables us to face each challenge with confidence. The shepherd uses his rod and his staff to protect us from ourselves and from those who would desire to bring harm. The rod is used to discipline and correct any wayward sheep that insists on wandering away. Whenever a sheep wanders off it opens itself up to predators as well as injury from a wrong step on a steep hill. The shepherd’s correction is always for its protection.
In verse 5, David illustrates the overwhelming certainty of God’s protection. The Lord prepares a banquet for David in the midst of his enemies. He has nothing to fear from them. As a part of the banquet, God honors David by anointing his head with oil which was a symbol of prosperity and honor. David was overwhelmed as he announced that his life was overflowing with goodness and blessings.
God provides for our future (v. 6). God had provided regularly for David’s needs and provided protection from his enemies at every turn. With that assurance, David claims the promise of goodness and mercy for all of his days. Whether you use the word mercy (KJV) or faithful love (CSB), they represent the covenant love of God. This type of love is described as a “loyal love,” which reflects God’s eternal love for His people.
The Lord is our Shepherd and we are the sheep of His pasture. We can live every day with the promise of His provision. He meets our needs, He provides protection and He promises us that He will always love us. We praise God for the overflow of His blessings.