The LORD is My Shepherd
By Charles E. McCracken
GROW January 11
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
During my years in the pastorate, it came as no surprise that the 23rd Psalm is the most well-known of all the psalms. Virtually everyone finds comfort in the message. It inspires hope. Most espousing a Judeo/Christian worldview can quote parts or the entirety from memory. That familiarity, however, can divert us from the deep and amazing truths captured in the psalm.
Imagine yourself sitting across the table from King David. He’s earnestly discussing his relationship with God. He’s not throwing around abstract theological concepts in monotone disconnect. He’s the king of Israel passionately speaking to you from personal experience. He’s relating his own personal journey of living the life of faith.
His introductory comment is mind-boggling: the LORD is my Shepherd (v.1).
The name transcribed, “LORD,” is the one God uniquely revealed to the nation of Israel—YaHWeH commonly pronounced Jehovah in English. (1)
Yahweh (God Himself) is David’s shepherd. All that David requires is available through the LORD. Like a sheep dependent upon the shepherd, David expresses complete confidence in Jehovah; it was an experiential reality for him.David’s life had not necessarily been easy. He had known loneliness as a shepherd. He had experienced the fear of battle. He had faced injustice when forced to spend a significant period of his adult life dodging Saul’s relentless attempts to kill him.
Sitting in his palace, David could reflect on his life and emphatically and unequivocally state, Jehovah is my shepherd. That truth was at the core of his being. It governed every area of his life. It described how he chose to live! Through every experience, David knew God was leading; he was assured God was providing; he was confident God was protecting.
There was no doubt in David’s mind that the LORD could be trusted to do what was best for him.
Following his assertion that, [t]he LORD is my shepherd, David concludes with the profound analysis, I shall not want (v.1). David couldn’t have stated this truth more forcefully. In today’s vernacular, he declares, “what more could I want?” David lacked nothing. With Jehovah as his shepherd, he was absolutely and utterly content.
It’s easy to think of Psalm 23 as a heartwarming pick-me-up when discouraged, disillusioned or out of sorts. Some even relegate this powerful psalm to a bygone era thinking it irrelevant to life in the 21st century. In reality, this psalm is the quintessential guide for living the life of faith in any era, but especially for Christians living near the end of the Church Age.
Look beyond the familiar and hear David speak. The Lord wants to be your shepherd. He wants you to follow Him.
Deciding to follow Him the way David did— is the starting point for anyone choosing to live the life of faith. Then, like David, you will experience everyday life with absolute contentment.
1) In other passages, the Bible couples the name “Jehovah” with His attributes:
Jehovah Jireh—the God who sees and provides (Gen. 22:14)
Jehovah Shalom—Jehovah our peace (Jud. 6:24)
Jehovah Tsidkaynu—Jehovah our righteousness (Jer. 33:16)
Jehovah Tsabaoth –Jehovah (LORD) of hosts (1 Sam. 17:45)
Jehovah Osaynu—Jehovah our Maker (Ps. 95:6).
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, text content only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author.