Psa 23:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
The very first verse makes a personal connection with God in the word “my.” People today do not generally understand this verse, God has not promised us all a Mercedes nor will He see to it that we have one. David was a shepherd and understood the proper order of leadership and care. As a shepherd he had very little and yet he lacked for nothing that he needed.
Psa 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Our Lord is with us where ever he leads and just like the shepherd of the sheep, when things get rough He never abandons us but prepares a resting place for refreshment for us. I, especially, like the illustration of the shepherd and the running water. Moving water scares sheep ad in the wilderness there is often no lake to drink from, the shepherd would place large stones in the stream and damn it up, creating a quiet pool to be refreshed from. If we will keep our attention on God, He is doing the same thing for us today. We can always escape the world for a time by turning to God in prayer and in praise.
Psa 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
In the wilderness the refreshing green foliage is often far apart and the shepherd must be knowledgeable of the terrain and exercise wisdom in the feeding and the movement of his sheep. Allow them to feed from the land to long and sheep will eat the roots and the next crop will not grow. Move them to quickly and they will not be restored to traveling condition. In a similar fashion, if God were to leave us exposed to the world and not give us refuge we would become worn out and ineffective. When we do not go off half cocked and wait for God to direct us we will be both effective and we will glorify God with our actions. God will never lead us into any situation that will shame or dishonor Him.
Psa 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
My wife has been known to insist that I hush before the person I'm correcting hurts me and this might be good advise if it were not for the fact that I am usually speaking out against men cursing like sailors in her presence. Psa.23:4 assures me that I have nothing to fear because my LORD has His rd and His staff ready to save me. This verse does not guarantee that I will not be slain for standing up for Godly principals but I do garner from it that I am not to withdraw because I covet life here more than I love my wife and my God. When we study shepherds around the world we find that shepherds are brave people. We find instances in Africa where a young man was mauled by a lion he had stabbed in the chest with his spear and in India we find a shepherd in his eighties that is injured by a Tiger when He beat the cat with his Rod. Both were loyal shepherds and were defending their flocks.
The shepherd's rod was used to defend his herd and his staff has a multitude of purpose. As the sheep are being moved he can use his staff to tap, prod and to guide the sheep. When the shepherd looks for a piece of material to shape his staff he must find a green limb that he can bend one end of to form the hook or the catch at the top but it must also be of a tree or plant that when dried will be strong and long lasting. That catch at the top is very important to the shepherd and to the sheep. When a sheep falls into a crevice or a short distance down a cliff the shepherd will use the catch to rescue His charge. God is like the good shepherd, prodding, tapping and pulling us back to Him,
Psa 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
There are a wide range of applications for the anointing with oil from the medical uses, then and now, to the cooling and refreshing effects it has on the body of one that spends time I the arid wilderness. The idea that God would take the time from sustaining the universe and would not just sit down for a meal with us but would prepare the table for us Himself is a precious thought and a vivid illustration of the love that God has for us. That David tells us his cup is over flowing shows us just much he cherished the fellowship with God.
Psa 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Just as David was sure of his relationship to God so can each and everyone of us that have determined to remain faithful forever.