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The Psalmist here expresseth his entire confidence in the Lord, and considers him under the beautiful and interesting character of a shepherd: a well known office of Jesus Christ.
A Psalm of David.
When we consider in how many parts of Scripture the Lord Jesus is described under the character of a Shepherd, we shall not be at a loss immediately to make application, through every part of this Psalm, as it concerns ourselves to him. I stay not to observe also how, and in what sense, Christ himself, in his mediatorial character, might call Jehovah his shepherd; but I shall confine what is here said concerning the shepherd, in reference to him. God had promised in the Old Testament scripture, to raise up a faithful Shepherd, meaning, Christ. And it is well worth our inquiry, under how many descriptions the several writers of the word of God had it in commission to point him out. He is called God's Shepherd, Zechariah 13:7 . And that no possible mistake concerning him might arise, he is called One Shepherd, Ezekiel 34:23 . He is called also the Chief Shepherd, 1 Peter 5:4 . And the Great Shepherd, Hebrews 13:20 . And Christ himself takes the appellation of the Good Shepherd, John 10:11 . Reader, how delightful, you and I, like David, can with the same authority say, 'The Lord is MY Shepherd.' Depend upon it, if so, we shall never want either food or raiment, neither chastisement nor support, either blessings in providence nor grace. He that is the Good Shepherd, and the Great Shepherd, and Jehovah's Shepherd, will never suffer his sheep to be unprovided for.
These are sweet verses. Jesus leads, and feeds, and waters. And this he doth night and day, lest any hurt. Feeding, takes in the whole employment of a Shepherd: Jesus hath knowledge of the persons of his sheepfold. He knows their wants, knows their situation, necessities, their diseases, sicknesses, infirmities, weaknesses, and, in short, all that concerns them. Reader, do not overlook these things. They must be well fed, well taught, well taken care of, that have Jesus for their shepherd. The Prophet hath given a particular account of this office of Jesus, and blessed it is to know it by experience. See Ezekiel 34:11 , etc. But what I would particularly desire the Reader to keep in view, in this contemplation of Jesus as the Shepherd of his people, is the method by which Jesus doth all these gracious things. How doth he feed his flock? Surely with himself. He is the bread of life, the bread of God, which came down from Heaven. Now, by the blessed word of his gospel, which the Holy Ghost opens and applies to the believer's hearts, Jesus feeds them, nourishes them, comforts them, strengthens them, and so leads them on from day to day, that he becomes the very life of their soul, and their portion forever. Surely they are well fed, and well taken care of, to whom Jesus thus acts the part of a gracious, wise, and affectionate Shepherd.
Hence the soul, resting upon Jesus, can and will look forward to the hour of death with perfect composure and serenity. It is but a valley, not a dwelling place, he hath to enter. And though he enters it, it is not to abide there. Moreover, it is not death, but the mere shadow of death, the true believer in Christ hath to pass through. The sting of death, which is sin, is taken out by the blood of Christ. The cause, which is to be brought before the Judge after death, hath been already before him, in which the accusations of the law, and Satan, and conscience, Jesus hath answered; and God hath declared himself to be well pleased. Hence, therefore, there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1 . So that death, and the valley of the shadow of death, have lost all their terrors to a true believer in Jesus, who is relying wholly upon the glorious person, and the finished and approved righteousness of the Mediator.
Blessed conclusion to a blessed frame of mind, when a soul is well founded in the covenant righteousness of God his Saviour; can look up to God as his Father, Jesus as his never-failing Shepherd, and the Holy Ghost as his Comforter. Jesus and his Holy Spirit have gone before, like the pillar of the cloud, have surrounded, followed, and compassed, us about as a shield; and therefore, in the experience of all that is past, the believer finds confidence for all that is to come. It is Jesus, who is the Alpha; and he is also the Omega. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory and praise forever and ever, Amen.
HAIL! thou great Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock! May I not humbly look up, and call thee, blessed Jesus, my Shepherd also? Surely thou hast been sent, and appointed, by the Father, to take upon thee the sheepfold of all thy redeemed, whom thou hast purchased with thy blood. And dust thou not gather everyone of them out of their state by nature, before that they are brought within thy fold? Dost thou not go after every wanderer into the mountains, to seek and search them out, whither they have been scattered in the dark and cloudy day? And when thou hast found them, blessed Shepherd, dost thou not lay them on thy shoulders rejoicing? And when thou bringest them home, dost thou not cause thy angels to rejoice with thee over them that were lost? Surely, Lord, thou hast done all this for me; thou didst seek me out, for else never should I have sought thee. Thou hast brought me into the fold of thy church, and never, never shall I want. Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou causest thy flock to rest at noon! Yes, thou wilt feed me in wholesome pastures, even thy blessed word, and by thine ordinances; thou wilt cause me to drink of that river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God; thou wilt heal me when diseased; thou wilt bind me up when torn; thou wilt defend me from the lion's den, and the mountains of leopards; thou wilt clothe me with the garment of thy righteousness; thou wilt separate me from the goats, and the unclean; thou wilt cause me to lie down, with present joy and safety, upon the green pastures of thy glorious person and glorious work, thy covenant righteousness, relations, and characters; and I shall lie down hereafter in thy bosom, where thou puttest the lambs of thy flock. Yes! yes! thou almighty Shepherd, all this, and infinitely more, wilt thou do for me, and in me, and by me, until thou bringest home all thy flock into one fold; when everyone shall pass again under the hand of him that telleth them, to manifest that of them the Father hath given thee none is, or can be lost; that none of thy sheep can perish, nor any pluck them out of thine and thy Father's hand. And at length, blessed Jesus, thou wilt bring thy whole fold around thyself in glory, where thou wilt lead them to fountains of living waters, and all tears, shall be wiped away from all eyes.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 23". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17