Psalm 23 – The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
A modern-day shepherd was tending his sheep at the edge of a country road.
A new Jeep Grand Cherokee screeched to a halt beside him. The driver—dressed in a designer suit, expensive shoes, flashy wristwatch, and sunglasses—asked the shepherd, “Say, if I can guess how many sheep you have, will you give me one of them?”
The shepherd looked at the man, sizing him up, then looked at his flock grazing on several hundred acres around him and said, “All right.”
The young executive parked his SUV, connected his notebook and wireless modem, entered a NASA site, scanned the ground using his GPS, opened a data base, and then printed a report from his portable laser printer. He walked over to the shepherd and said, “You have exactly 1,586 sheep in your flock.”
The shepherd answered, “I can’t believe it—you’re right. Wow! Okay, take your pick . . .”
The young man took one of the animals, lifting it into the back of his Jeep. Then, just as he was about to drive away, the shepherd called out to him, “Hey, wait! Before you leave—if I can guess your profession, will you repay me?”
The executive answered with a smirk, “Sure, go ahead and try.”
The shepherd said, “You’re a consultant.”
The man was shocked! With surprise written all over his face he conceded, “That’s right . . . but how in the world did you know?”
The shepherd responded, “Very simple. First you came here to tell me something without being invited. Second, you charged me for information I already knew. Third, you really don’t know anything about my business and . . . I’d really like to have my dog back!”
I wonder—is it possible that we know so little about our wonderful Shepherd because, like that businessman, we know very little about sheep?
Our Lord, the Good Shepherd, knows His business; furthermore, He is masterful at His care for the sheep. In this well-known Psalm, David considered himself to be a member of God’s flock.
And because David knew what the life of sheep was like, he penned this poem with their benefits in mind—benefits only possible when the Lord is our Shepherd:
- He provides green pasture—not a coincidence in the Middle East, but the result of hard work.
- Lying down in green pasture implied the lack of fear—sheep will stay standing unless they are secure in their shepherd’s care.
- He provides still water: inlets dug from a river since sheep are too timid to drink from running water.
- He anoints the heads of sheep plagued with flies. The ointment provides soothing relief from the irritations of life—soothing only from a personal relationship between sheep and shepherd . . . and that’s just the beginning!