PSALM 23 (A study of)

A shepherd’s life also required him to spend a great deal of time alone out in the countryside. With no one to talk to, the shepherd had time to think about many things. He could (if he so desired) just allow his mind to wander aimlessly from thought to thought or else he could utilize the time to develop his thought processes and to draw near to God. The shepherd life gave great opportunity for a person to use the time to become a man of great devotion and prayer. Obviously David spent his time doing just that. Psalm 23 is a testimony of David. Every verse of it testifies of a truth about God and the relationship David had developed with Him. In Psalm 23, David painted with words, a picture of God as the Great Shepherd of his life. What David was to his sheep, he considered the Lord to be that and even more to himself as one of God’s sheep.  As we study this Psalm, I pray that we too will want to say as David said:

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness for His Names’s sake.
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.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of
mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the
house of the Lord forever.   
Psalm 23

Text: Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.”
Verse one speaks three truths about David’s Shepherd.

Truth #1: “The Lord” denotes He is A Glorious Sovereign.
A sovereign is defined as a person having supreme rank and power; superior to all others.

God claimed to be the sovereign majesty of the universe. Isaiah 44:6, “I am the first and the last; there is no other God.”  Isaiah 45: 21-22, There is not other god beside me, a righteous God and a Savior, there is not one besides me. Turn to me and be saved all the ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other.”

David believed what God said of Himself and testified to it in 2 Samuel 7:22 (NLT), “How great you are, O Sovereign Lord, there is no one like you, there is no other god. We have never even heard of another God like you.”

In Scripture the word Lord is the Hebrew name Jehovah. It is the personal name for God that distinguished Him from all the false gods that people worshipped.
 Egypt, for example, was a land of many false gods. They had 360 primary gods, one for each day of the Egyptian calendar. A false god in its simplest definition is anything that is esteemed, loved, feared, or served more than the God of Scripture. If we set up anything that is a rival interest in our hearts and minds that absorbs the love and service which belongs only to the true God our creator, then that thing becomes another god to us.

Fact: Whatever the heart clings to  – that becomes our God.


  • The proud man who idolizes himself makes of himself his god.
  • The ambitious man who pays homage to popular applause makes his ambition his god.
  • The covetous person who hoards possessions makes possessions his god.
  • The immoral person who craves sex makes sex his god.
  • The glutton who craves food makes eating his god.

David kept himself from the folly of embracing false gods. He refused to honor or worship any idol made of his own or any other person’s imagination or hands. He understood this: Psalm 115:4-8, “Idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not, eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: they have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is everyone that trusteth in them.”

God had warned in Exodus 20:3-5, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me; thou shalt not make unto thee any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God…”

The choice as to whom David would claim as his Shepherd in life was not difficult for him to make. It would be the God that created man and not the god that man created. It would be “the Lord” the only true and living God.

Note:  David used the personal pronoun “my.” He did not say “the Lord is the Shepherd of the world in general.” He is saying, “The Lord is a Shepherd to me. He cares for me. He watches over me”. He made it personal.

Fact: Our experience with God can never be vital until it is personal.

Truth #2:”My Shepherd” denotes He is A Gentle Shepherd.

The ministry of Jesus as the “good” shepherd reveals this to be true. The word “Lord “speaks of His deity.. The word shepherd speaks of His humanity. As the Sovereign Lord He is able. As the sympathetic shepherd He is approachable. 

Fact: In the New Testament the Sovereign Lord that was David’s Shepherd has revealed Himself in Jesus. The Jehovah Shepherd of the Old Testament is manifested as the Jesus Shepherd of the New Testament.

What kind of Shepherd is Jesus?

  • He is the Savior Shepherd that came to save the lost (Luke 19:10), “For the Son of man came to seek and save that which was lost.
  • He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). As such He died to pay the penalty for our sin 2.
  • He is the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20-21).As such He rose to save us from the power of sin. 
  • He is the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). As such He is coming again to save us from the presence of sin. 
  • He is like the Concerned Shepherd of Luke 15 who goes seeking for the lost sheep until he finds it. “And when he hath found it, he laid it upon his shoulders, rejoicing…and when he cometh home, he calls together his friends and neighbors saying unto them; “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:4-6).
  • He is the Shepherd who is touched by our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15).
  • He is the Shepherd who comforts us in all our tribulation (2 Cor.1:4).
  • He is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep by name (John10:14, 27).
  • He is the Shepherd who can weep over His sheep (John 1:35).

So we see that Jesus is truly the Gentle Shepherd Truth #3: ““I shall not want” denotes He is a Gracious Sufficiency.

Fact: Only when you can say, “The Lord is my shepherd”, can you say, “I shall not want”. David took the sacred name “Jehovah” and linked it with the word “Shepherd”. This was a daring thing, but he did it by the leadership of the Holy Spirit. That name is Jehovah Rohi.

Names have meanings. They reveal the nature and character of God – who He is and what He wants to do in our lives (Character – determines – Conduct) The verb “is” was in the present tense. David was telling us what God meant to Him at that present moment! Note that David used the personal pronoun “my”. Our experience with God can never be vital until it is personal.

There are seven times where the name “Jehovah” is linked with another word. Each time it reveals to us the reasons why “I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1, Jehovah Rohi – The Lord is my shepherd. Gen. 22:13,14 – Jehovah Jireh – The Lord will provide. Exodus 15:26, – Jehovah Rapha – The Lord that healeth. Judges 6:24, – Jehovah Shalom – The Lord our Peace. Jeremiah 23:6 – Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord our Righteousness. Ezekiel 48:35 – Jehovah Shammah – The Lord ever present. Exodus 17:8-15 – Jehovah Nissi – The Lord our banner.

The Lord Jesus, our Shepherd, tells us that we shall not want. He has Gracious Sufficiency for His children.

The above names fit this Psalm perfectly. Note how each name is in this Psalm.

  • Jehovah-Rohi The Lord is my shepherd.
  • Jehovah-Jirah (The Lord will provide) I shall not want.
  • Jehovah-Rapha (The Lord that healeth) He restoreth my soul.
  • Jehovah-Shalom (The Lord our peace) He leadeth me beside still waters.
  • Jehovah-Tsidkenu (The Lord our Righteousness) He leadeth me in paths of righteousness.
  • Jehovah-Shammah (The Lord id present) I will fear no evil, Thou art with me.
  • Jehovah-Nissi (The Lord our banner) Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

Just think of all we have when we say, “The Lord is my shepherd.”

  1. Green pastures speaks of provision.
  2. Still waters speaks of peace.
  3. The restoring of my soul speaks of pardon.
  4. Leading in the paths of righteousness speaks of providence.
  5. His being with me in the dark valley speaks of presence.
  6. His rod and staff speaks of preservation.
  7. The table in the presence of my enemies speaks of protection.
  8. The anointing of my head with oil and overflowing speaks of plenty.
  9. Dwelling in the house of the Lord speaks of paradise.

Conclusion: David had not only a “theology” of God, he had a “testimony” about God.

Continue to Part 2-3 

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