“The Lord is my shepherd…” Psalm 23:1a
The 23rd Psalm is extremely familiar, even outside of Christian circles. We associate it with comfort in grief because of how often it’s read at funerals. In reality, this Psalm is more a song about life than about death. It portrays the relationship between God and His children through the challenges and changes of life. So, in order to truly experience the comfort of Psalm 23, you must have a relationship with the Lord. He then becomes your personal shepherd.
As David penned the words, “The Lord is my shepherd,” he recognized similarities in his care for his father’s flock and God’s care of him. Reading many of the Psalms, we can see that the Lord had indeed been David’s personal shepherd throughout the years. The same is true for believers today. We have a relationship with Jesus – the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:14), the “Great Shepherd” (Hebrews 13:20), and the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4).
The Good Shepherd, “calls his own sheep by name” (John 10:3). You are not a nameless face in a crowd. The One who knows the number of hairs on your head certainly knows you individually and very personally. The Shepherd keeps close watch. He knows the details of every situation you face. He knows your innermost thoughts and feelings.
Jesus described the close bond between shepherd and sheep this way, “…he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:4). So, not only does He know us but we know Him. He speaks through His Word and through the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The more time we spend studying the Bible, the more we learn about Him. And the more we know Him, the easier it is to recognize His voice.
But the most personal aspect of our Shepherd is the depth of His love for the flock. Jesus said of Himself, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). What could be more personal than that? So, you cannot say, “The Lord is my shepherd” without first trusting Jesus as your Savior.
Do you desire the comfort and encouragement of the 23rd Psalm? Then examine your personal relationship with the Shepherd. Do you know Him? Do you recognize and follow His voice? Can you say with confidence, “The Lord is MY shepherd?” If so, this beloved Psalm will take on new meaning through the challenges and changes of life.