7/10 – You Are with Me (Psalm 23)
Introduction — Here David expresses utmost trust in God. And David’s trust is personal. ”The LORD is my shepherd,” he declares. In perhaps the most familiar words from the entire Bible, David states his simple, humble trust in the Lord. David knows that the Lord provides the best for him, giving rest, restoring his soul. David knows that the Lord guides him in the righteous paths for God’s glory. And even though he walks through the valley of the shadow of death, David fears no evil. Why? The Lord is with him. The Lord comforts him. The Lord prepares a table for him. The Lord anoints him. David’s cup overflows. He knows that the Lord’s goodness and faithful love will be with him as long as he lives. And David knows that he will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. So, no matter what, David knows that the Lord is with him. How about us? Do we speak of the Lord in such personal terms? Do we see His guidance over us? Do we notice His care for us? Do we fear no evil? Do we see how much our cup overflows? Do we see the Lord’s goodness and love close to us? Do we dwell with the Lord? Do we know that the Lord is with us?
David expresses a humble trust in the Lord through simple, down-to-earth terms. His declaration of faith in the Lord turns to a wondrous prayer to the Lord. Like David, I can speak these soaring words when I talk about the Lord or talk with the Lord. Indeed, this is my story of God’s grace in my life. The Lord is my shepherd! The Lord is with me!
SIMPLE PRAISE ABOUT THE LORD WHO IS WITH ME
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Comments: David states his close connection with (Yahweh, the One who is without beginning and without end, I AM) the Lord. In this intimate phrase, David states that the Lord is his shepherd. And because the Lord is his shepherd, David has no lack. The Lord is like a servant to David. The Lord cares for David. The Lord provides for David. Questions: Do you see how the Lord cares for you? Do you express your praise about Him? Do you talk with other people about Him? Do you enjoy a close connection with the Lord? Do you see good news here?
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Comments: In short order, David explains how the Lord provides for him. The Lord makes him lie down in green pastures. The Lord leads him beside quite waters. The Lord restores his soul. And for His glory, the Lord guides David in straight paths. In simple, relatable terms, David clearly tells how the Lord cares for him. The Lord is a good shepherd; who, by His grace, meets David’s needs. Questions: Do you tell folks how the Lord cares for you? Do you readily talk about the Lord? If not, why not? Will you tell someone? Will you speak simple praise about Him?
Application: Think about the Lord’s care for you, and tell someone in simple terms. Tell how great He is. Tell how good He is.
SIMPLE PRAYER TO THE LORD WHO IS WITH ME
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Comments: David now goes from talking about the Lord to talking with the Lord. David knows that the Lord who guides him to great places may also lead him to grave places. Yet, even though he walks through the valley of death’s shadow, David fears no evil. Why? He fully trusts the Lord. And David tells Him so. That the Lord protects (Your rod) David, and walks (Your staff) with David is a great comfort to him. Indeed, the Lord is with David. Questions: Do you see God’s guiding hand in your life? Do you know that God is with you? Do you tell God you trust Him?
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Comments: Here David continues talking with the Lord. David sees and enjoys the Lord’s great grace. First, the Lord prepares a table before David in the presence of his enemies. In a public way, the Lord shows loyalty to David. The Lord is pleased, not embarrassed, with David. Second, the Lord anoints David’s head with oil. The Lord sets David apart, calling him and blessing him. Truly, David’s cup overflows with the Lord’s grace. Questions: Do you see the Lord’s grace in action? Do you think about God’s provision in your life? Do you overflow with His grace?
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Comments: David ends his prayer with lofty hope in the Lord. David knows the Lord is good and merciful. Therefore, the Lord’s goodness and faithful love will follow him. This is a pursuit and this is not an occasional chase. The Lord pursues David for a lifetime. The pursuit ends in a place before a person. David knows full well that he will abide with the Lord. The Lord who was always there is still there. And David will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Questions: Do you marvel at the Lord’s goodness? Do you thrill at the Lord’s faithful love?
Application: Think about the Lord’s care for you, and tell Him in simple terms. Tell Him how great He is. Tell Him how good He is.
Word Study for Psalm 23
1 shepherd (raah—to feed; to drive out to pasture; to shepherd; to be a shepherd; to care for a flock)
1 want (haser—to decrease, to lessen; to lack; to be devoid of anything; to not have enough; to be empty)
2 lie down (rabas—to lie down; rest; recline; settle; cause to rest)
2 quiet (menuhah—rest; resting place; place of quiet; rest from tiredness; abode; calming; ease)
2 leads (nahal—to escort; to transport; to guide, implying a follower willing to be led)
3 restores (sub—to turn back; to return; turn around; change; pivot)
3 guides (nahah—lead, direct the movements of others implying leadership and rulership)
3 paths (magal—rutted path; trench; wagon track; rut; way of life; direction in life)
3 righteousness (sedeq—accuracy, what is correct; the right thing; justice; no deviation; rightness)
3 name (sem—standing; reputation; fame; renown; high status; honor; authority)
4 shadow of death (salmawet—deep shadow, darkness; gloom, danger, foreboding; place of death; shadow land)
4 with (immad—with; with me; in my company; beside; to lean against, support)
4 comfort (naham—console; relief from sorrow and distress; encourage; express sympathy; lament, grieve)
5 prepare (arak—put in order; arrange, take care; to lay out; set in rows; furnish)
6 goodness (tob—good; merry; pleasant; joyous; good value; generous; beautiful; delightful; favor)
6 lovingkindness (hesed—loyalty; faithfulness, loyal love; covenant love; mercy; glory)
6 follow (radap—pursue, chase; follow after; be hounded; follow after quickly)
Application for Psalm 23
Let’s see the personal nature of God’s relationship to us.
Let’s see the beauty of who God is.
Let’s approach God in child-like wonder.
Let’s freely talk about God to others.
Let’s readily pray to God.
Let’s trust God to guide and care for us.
Let’s see how blessed we are.
Let’s be astonished by God’s goodness and love.
Let’s be thankful that God is with us.
Gospel Connections for Psalm 23
Jesus is the good shepherd. He lays down His life for the sheep. He leads us to life eternal. He restores us, making us new creations in Him. He guides us by His Spirit. He makes us the righteousness of God for the glory of God. Because Jesus went through the valley of death, we can trust Him to bring us through the shadow lands. In Christ, we fear no evil. Jesus is preparing a place for us. Jesus is the Messiah. He is the anointed one. And God shows His love to us, in that while we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us. God’s grace is lavish. Our cup overflows with His grace. We see God’s perfect goodness and faithful love in Christ. By God’s grace alone through God’s faith in Christ alone, we will dwell with Him forever.
Thoughts and Quotes for Psalm 23
May the bridges I burn light the way. ~ Anonymous
We have all things and abound; not because I have a good store of money in the bank, not because I have skill and wit with which to win my bread, but because the Lord is my shepherd. ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
The death of a beloved is an amputation. ~ C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it. ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
Humanity wants comfort in its sorrow, light in its darkness, peace in its turmoil, rest in its weariness, and healing in its sickness and diseases: The Gospel gives all of this to us. ~ Billy Graham
To the unbeliever the fact of suffering only convinces him that God is not to be trusted, does not love us. To the believer, the opposite is true. ~ Elisabeth Elliot
9 Get yourself up on a high mountain,
O Zion, bearer of good news,
Lift up your voice mightily,
O Jerusalem, bearer of good news;
Lift it up, do not fear.
Say to the cities of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10 Behold, the Lord God will come with might,
With His arm ruling for Him.
Behold, His reward is with Him
And His recompense before Him.
11 Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
In His arm He will gather the lambs
And carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
John 10:11-15, 27-30
11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Revelation 7:9-17, NAS
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying,
“Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 16 They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Further Applications from Psalm 23
1) Turn away from substitute lords, those prizes or places or people who divert you from the one, true Lord.
2) Thank the Lord for His protection.
3) Thank the Lord for giving you courage, erasing your fear.
4) Keep walking away from fear.
5) Delight in His grace. He delights in you.
6) Rejoice in His goodness and faithful love. He pursues you. He loves you.
7) Think more and more about being with the Lord more.
8) Rejoice that the Lord is with you.
9) Marvel that the Lord is with you.
10) Thank Him that He is with you.
Further Thoughts and Quotes for Psalm 23
The minister had all the kids in the congregation up front on the steps for a short children's sermon, and it was on the 23rd Psalm. He told the children that sheep weren't smart and needed lots of guidance, and that a shepherd's job was to stay close to the sheep, protect them from wild animals and keep them from wandering off and doing dumb things that would get them hurt or killed. He pointed to the little children and said that they were the sheep and needed lots of guidance.
Then the minister put his hands out to the side, palms up in a dramatic gesture, and, with raised eyebrows, said to the children, "If you are the sheep, then who is the shepherd?"
He was obviously indicating himself.
A silence of a few seconds followed. Then one boy said, "Jesus. Jesus is the shepherd."
The young minister, obviously caught by surprise, said to the boy, "Well then, who am I?"
The child frowned thoughtfully, and then said with a shrug, "I guess you must be a sheep dog."
--Mark D. Hostetter, "From the sheep's point of view," First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, May 15, 2012, fpcnyc.org.