The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
The 23rd Psalm is probably one of the most popular scriptures in all the Bible. Many look to the Psalm for comfort in difficulty or as they face trials. Many times I often sit and reflect and think about what David must have been thinking about as he sat to write the Psalm.
David was a shepherd and so it was easy for him to relate his relationship with God to that of a shepherd. It was an analogy that many people in David’s day would have identified with or understood. David wanted to convey the closeness of his relationship to God, and the closest relationship he could think of was that of a shepherd and his sheep.
As David wrote this Psalm, he could look back over all the history of the children of Israel. Before this time, the story of Abraham had already taken place. No doubt David was familiar with how God guided Abraham and brought him to Canaan. He had heard the story of Joseph and how he was sold into slavery, but how God used that event to save his people.
He had heard about how Pharaoh had placed the children of Israel in bondage and all the interactions of Moses and Pharaoh to let the people go. He knew about how God had parted the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to pass over on the dry ground. The stories all throughout the Old Testament, David knew of them and no doubt knew them very well.
Many suggest that this was a Psalm written by David in his later years of life. If that was the case, he had many things in his history to reflect on as well. He could recall how God used him with a sling and stone to end the reign of Goliath. He could recall how Saul sought to have him killed, but God delivered him. David even had to run from his own son, but God again delivered him.
David’s life was not perfect. We have heard and read the failures of David. As David sits and reflects, he no doubt thinks of all the good times and the bad. He remembers all the ups and the downs throughout his life. As he thinks of that, one thing continues to ring true as he pens the words to this Psalm.
He says that the LORD of all the good and the bad, the LORD of all the history of Israel, the LORD of all things in the world, is his personal shepherd. It was not a global view of God or a regional view of God, but a personal view of God. While he remembered all the things from the history of Israel, this was a statement by someone who had a personal interaction and relationship with another.
David calls him the LORD, which encompasses all the things that God had done in the past. He was a great God and had done great things. But David is writing about something more. He says that while he was God through all of these things, he is MY shepherd.
David was not placing a personal claim on God. Thousands followed God in that day and millions more follow him today. It was not something that was exclusive only to David, but it was something that was very personal to David.
God still today is being a shepherd to Christians all around the world. From the freedoms of the United States to the underground Christians that face death if they were to be discovered, God is still shepherding those who have a personal relationship with Him.
But that is the key. You see a shepherd is not out watching over everyone’s sheep. In that day, there could have been many shepherds on any hillside watching over their own sheep. They were focused on the safety and wellbeing of their own sheep.
The same is true of God the shepherd. He absolutely is in control of everything in all his power and might. But he pays specific attention to those who are his sheep. He watches over them specifically, because they have a personal relationship with each other.
Do you have that personal relationship with God? Can you say with the Psalmist David that the LORD is your shepherd?