UNDERSTANDING PSALM 23

Psalm 23 is more or less God’s voucher for all believers with which to obtain HIS power, protection, and all other provisions as well, enabling us not to fear, fall or falter. The Psalm touched on the physical and spiritual life of any believer.  The Psalmist declared “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”.  For everything we need to be able to survive, live a happy life, we need to realize that (we) the sheep owe our life and livelihood to the shepherd, who is God in Christ, as the good shepherd. Even though, human beings cannot create life but as a shepherd, Jesus was ready to risk His life for his sheep. God sees the heart while man looks at the face to judge others. David showed his quality of a shepherd in his fight against Goliath in defense of the children of Israel  known as the People of God. In terms of known prowess, David is apparently no match for his opponent, but as a shepherd that he was, he without traditional battle gear faced Goliath, a professional warrior, like he did when he fought a lion and a bear at different times and killed them. As he brought the terror of both lion and bear to an end, so he conquered Goliath and brought victory for the Jews and saved them from the constant harassment and shame from the warlike Philistines. David like the good shepherd risked his life for the children of Israel but the greater shepherd, “The God of Israel” fought the battle for David otherwise, Goliath could have fed birds of the air with the flesh of David. Praise the eternal good shepherd. When the shepherd is behind anyone or a church and its congregation there shall be victory, provision of food and prosperity, protection against all attacks of  enemies, either physical or spiritual. Once the shepherd abides with his sheep they cannot lack anything even during drought or famine. Where young lions hunger and suffer lack, those with the good shepherd shall not lack any good thing Psalm 34: 10. In strict compliance with the will of God, the strong, rich and prosperous  are all expected to be the good shepherd for the weaker ones or the less privileged in the society. The blind is supposed to be shown the way by the eyed-individuals. To be Christlike is to be like the good shepherd.

Furthermore to the point of  “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”;  digging deep into David’s Psalm 23, it is clear that the sheep owe many things to the shepherd. It is the shepherd that makes provision of pen or manger for the lots of sheep concerning accommodation, or taking them to the location where livestock feeds are available. The nomadic  Fulani of Northern Nigeria know where to get feeds for their livestock and can walk long distances from place to place in search of good pasture for the cattle. In the land of Israel of David’s time up to Christ era, the importance of shepherds cannot be over emphasized because they were responsible for the economic mainstay of the nation. No wonder the prevalence of stables here and there, one of which became the delivery theater for Christ as predicted of old. Jesus was born in a manger signifying his mission of going to be the good shepherd. Jesus is always with all the children of God and especially those that have accepted Him as their Lord and savior. Sheep rearing as of today still operates on the same concept of the shepherd making provision for his sheep fold. In mechanized sheep-rearing or livestock farming total care is still the same, including the service of vet doctors to care for the health of the livestock within the existing controlled environment. Apart from the pasture, the shepherd cares for watering their sheep. Even seven daughters of Jethro in the land of Midian knew how to  keep their father’s flock. Exodus 2: 16-17 stressed how the need of the sheep was satisfied. God the higher shepherd provided Moses who drove away stronger male shepherds that had always cheated the female shepherds (daughters of Jethro). No wonder Moses became the shepherd who God, the Omni-Omnipotent father, used to lead the Jews out of Egypt. The struggle was long and tedious but the Supreme shepherd empowered Moses. As God directed, various disasters befell the recalcitrant Pharoah and his people while the people of God were preserved. Assuming when Moses instructed the his people to dub their front door with the blood of the lamb to ensure that angel of death meant to kill the Egyptians passed them over, if  some did not. they could have suffered the same fate with the Egyptians.

The concept of being a shepherd is to be found in the innumerable names of God such as Jehovah Jireh (God that provides) as in Genesis 22: 14. It states “And Abraham called the name, The Lord-will-Provide as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the Lord it shall be provided” NKJV (MacAthur ed). The shepherd does not take the back stage, he is always positioned in the front leading and directing the sheep. This fits into Jehovah Nissi in Exodus 17: 15-16 “And Moses built an alter and called its name , The-Lord-is-My-Banner, for he said , “Because the Lord has sworn: “The lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” NKJV (MacAthur ed) No banner is kept behind any troop either on patrol or parade.

 

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