The Lord Is Our Shepherd

PSALM 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Psalm 23 is one of the most well-known and often quoted passages in all of the Bible; maybe, because it touches on many of our basic human longings. Like David, we need food and guidance and protection and health and peace. Even though David frequently searched for them in many other places, Psalm 23 testifies that he ultimately found them in the Lord, his Shepherd.

The name David used for Lord — YAHWEH — is the same covenantal name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. Translated “I AM” or “I WILL BE,” YAHWEH is more than a mere title or designation; it conveys God’s unchanging nature, character, and conduct. It reveals who he is, what he does, and how he works in our lives.

Almost every time God reveals an attribute about himself in the Bible, he begins by saying “I AM” or “I WILL BE.” For instance, to Abraham he said, “I AM” your PROVIDER” (Genesis 22:14), to Moses he said, “I AM your HEALER” (Exodus 15:26), to Gideon he said, “I AM your PEACE” (Judges 6:24), and to Joshua God said, “I AM your DEFENDER” (Exodus 17:15).

Psalm 23 is David’s testimony to make the Lord his Shepherd, a statement of trust in YAHWEH’s provision and protection. David’s testimony also encourages us to make the same commitment and daily trust the Lord to watch over every one of our lives and supply every one of our needs.

With that in mind, Sunday’s collect seems to be an appropriate prayer with which to end: O God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice, we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.

The Lord’s peace be with you.

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