Psalm 23 is a popular Psalm -- not because of its brevity, but because of the imagery of our Lord and God being our protective and caring shepherd. It is almost entirely Gospel. The first verse says it all, while the rest is commentary.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
David proclaims that God is going to provide all that is needed for both his physical and spiritual needs. He will not be anxious, worried or in distress, but at peace.
Vs 2: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."
Our shepherd provides David and us with our nourishment. These words remind me of the petition, "Give us this day our daily bread," Our Heavenly Father does indeed supply us with temporal blessings, but also His word, for man does not live on bread alone. His word of promise and grace feeds and refreshes our soul.
Vs 3: "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
It is the Gospel that restores the soul, not law or judgment. As our soul is restored, God's law leads in the way we are to walk; and even though we may stumble at times, the sweet promise of the Gospel restores us and places us back on the path.
Vs 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."
The world is a dangerous place, but this is more than an accidental fall in our own home. It is dealing with those who wish us evil, the wolves, physical and spiritual, the greatness of which is Satan. Against Satan, we are helpless, but our shepherd victoriously stands with us. We know that He will hear us when we pray, "Deliver us from evil."
Vs 5: "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."
The Lord's Supper comes to mind. The church has her enemies, again Satan being the greatest. Not even the demonic can stop God from blessing us in this supper, which has its roots in the Passover. There God's people dine in the mists of their enemies.
Vs 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."
People ask, "How are you?" Most of the time, I answer, "I am blessed."
I am blessed! Why? The Lord is my shepherd every day. Every blessing expressed in Psalm 23 is mine. Even in the mist of my death, for I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
• David Otten is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado.