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Christ, the Great Shepherd
1. Assurance (Psalms 23:1-3 )
2. Comfort (Psalms 23:4-6 )
Psalms 1:1-6 ; Psalms 2:1-12 ; Psalms 3:1-8 . Well has it been said “without Psalms 22:1-31 , there could be no Twenty-third Psalm.” While the former Psalm reveals Christ as the good Shepherd, who gives His life for the sheep, this Psalm makes Him known as the great Shepherd of the sheep, whom the God of Peace hath brought again from the dead, through the blood of the everlasting covenant (Hebrews 13:20 ). And all who deny the atoning work of Christ have no claim whatever upon the assurance and comfort of this Psalm.
But we must not overlook the fact that the first application of the Twenty-third Psalm must be made in connection with that godly remnant of Israel of a future day. While He is individually the Shepherd of all who trust in Him, He is also nationally the Shepherd of Israel. The Patriarch Jacob spoke of this when he said, “the God which fed me,” or, literally, “my Shepherd.” In Psalms 53:1 the Lord is spoken of as being the Shepherd of Israel nationally, while in another Psalm the pious in Israel declare “we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hands.” In Isaiah 40:11 we have record of another national promise made to His people Israel--”He shall feed His flock like a Shepherd” and Micah calls Israel “the flock of Thine inheritance” (Micah 7:14 ). The entire thirty-fourth chapter of Ezekiel reveals Him as the Shepherd and His future work when He will gather graciously the scattered sheep of Israel and lead them back to their own land. This Psalm has therefore a wider national application, especially in connection with the already mentioned godly remnant who look forward during the time of Jacob’s trouble, the great tribulation, to His visible manifestation. It will be their comfort, when they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, when their enemies arise threateningly on all sides. Then they will say, “I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me” and again “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” Their hope is expressed in holy anticipation as dwelling finally in the house of the Lord forever, that is the hope of sharing the blessings and glories of the millennial reign.
Much has been written devotionally on this Psalm. Hundreds of books have been published, but it has never been exhausted nor ever will be. The assurance of the first three verses belong to every believer on the Lord Jesus. He is individually the Shepherd and each child of God can say, “Jehovah is my Shepherd, the Shepherd who never fails, who never changeth, the Jehovah-jireh--the LORD who provides. He gives pasture, peace and rest, with the never failing waters, the supply of His Spirit. Then He restoreth after failure and leads in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.
Psalms 4:1-8 ; Psalms 5:1-12 ; Psalms 6:1-10 . And here is the comfort for all earthly circumstances, no matter where the path may be. Goodness and mercy are in store for all His sheep and the blessed goal to be with Him, not in an earthly house, where yet His glory is to dwell visibly, but in the Father’s house with its many mansions.
A good way to read this Psalm is by asking the question, “What shall I not want?”
I shall not want-- Rest--for He makes me to lie down in green pastures. Drink--for He leadeth me beside the still waters. Forgiveness--for He restoreth my soul. Guidance--for He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness. Companionship--for Thou art with me. Comfort--for Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me. Food--for Thou preparest a table before me. Victory--in the presence of mine enemies. Joy--Thou anointest my head with oil. Overrunning joy--for my cup runneth over. Everything in time--for goodness and mercy shall follow me. Everything in eternity--for I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Psalms 23". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25