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"The Royal Shepherd" "The Royal Shepherd"

Psalm 23
Psalm 23
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"The Royal Shepherd"

Posted on Mon, Apr 18, 2016

Psalm 23

April 16, 2016

Fourth Sunday in Easter


Psalm 23

The Divine Shepherd (A Psalm of David.)

The psalm is mostly heard at funerals, because everyone seems to only focus on the fourth verse. But the psalm is a confession. It is a confession that declares commitment and trust. 


  1. 1. The word “shepherd:”
    1. a. Everyone knew what a shepherd was and what they did
    2. b. The name is a description of what they do; They ‘herd the sheep;’ they lead, protect and guide sheep. 
    3. 2. It also was also a word representing royalty, the king. I.e., in that the responsibility of the king was to lead, protect and guide the people. In those days, the king was also even expected to go into battle with the army. Notice this is a “Psalm of David,” the song is attributed to David, the most revered King, but there is a good chance this was written during or after the exile.


1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 

    1. 1. The better translation, and remember the word shepherd is more of a reference to a ‘king, would be The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be “in want.” The meaning is more of that the king, the Lord, will be able to provide enough food, shelter, safety so that there is peace and harmony. The inference is also, “I do not lack,: Think about it, for forty years Israel wandered in the desert and THEY LACKED NOTHING! They had food and water, even in the desert. 


2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; 


    1. 1. What an imagery of peace and comfort in a land that is essentially desert and dust. This would be such a rich image for people of Israel returning from the exile.


3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. 


    1. 1. The restoration of life is asked for and thanks are given for the individual and community in prayers and psalms. It is acknowledged that it is the Lord’s doing that we are “restored.” God has restored us, because that is what a faithful creating God does; and the purpose of our restoration in God’s name is so that we can proclaim what God has done and is doing through God’s people.


4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. 


    1. 1. Notice the change, rather than, “even though I walk through the valley of death, or the shadow of death,” the closest translation is probably the most simple. The point is that even though life sometimes leads to places of darkness, (Places we feel that ‘God is not’) we do not fear that which leads us OFF OF OUR PATH BEING LED BY THE SHEPHERD.  
    2. 2. In this harrowing place, even though we can’t see it, because it is dark, just knowing our shepherd, our lord has a shepherds staff = shepherds crook. 
    3. 3. What action happens when a shepherd uses the crook? We are pulled closer to the shepherd. Therefore the imagery is of walking in complete darkness, tempted to go to any flicker we may see, we KNOW the shepherd is next to us, ready to use the crook to bring us back to him/her. 


5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 


    1. 1. Don't think God is preparing a meal in front of our enemies just to show off. It is part of the rituals thanksgiving and again the confession that God “prepared a table for Israel in the wilderness. The wilderness can be considered an ‘enemy’ because the very environment is as deadly as an enemy.


6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, 


    1. 1. Here the Bible doesn't express the Zealousness of God in saving us. A better translation might be, “Goodness (the benefit of blessing) and loving kindness (the basis of deliverance) SHALL PURSUE ME.”


7 and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

    1. 1. This is a phrase that is used to highlight the power of death. When we hear that word, “dwell in the house” imagery of the tabernacle can come to mind. It talks of the goodness and peace when we “tabernacle” in the presense of the Lord. This is a prayer of commitment to live in the faithfulness promises of the Lord. As God has been faithful, we will love in the promise of God and find peace. The writer again confesses, “This is what I shall do!” 


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