We saw last week how our Shepherd provides for all our physical and emotional needs as we walk with Him. But that’s not all. As we take a closer look, there are many other things that our blessed Lord longs to teach and share with us.
Psalm 23:3b — He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.
He provides for our spiritual needs. The Lord leads each of us through different paths and experiences in our lives. Whether that route goes up a steep mountain or by still waters, each one plays a very specific part at every juncture in our lives. “I am the Lord your God, who teaches what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go,” says Isaiah 48:17.
Whether that route goes up a steep mountain or by still waters, each one plays a very specific part at every juncture in our lives
These are no random paths. They were etched out for us long before the foundation of the world, when our Shepherd planned out our every step. We know this because of Psalm 139:16: “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” These are the glorious paths of righteousness for, through them, He moulds our character, makes us grow from strength to strength, and helps us walk in His ways. We carry the holy Name of our Shepherd and, for His Name’s sake, He will give us all the grace we need to honour it.
Psalm 24:4 — Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.
He is our strong Defender and Protector. The shepherd has to constantly lead the sheep from one area to another in search of green pastures. Often, they will have to cross dark, perilous valleys. Sheep hate going where they cannot see, so the staff of the shepherd keeps directing them and reassuring them of His presence. The rod is used to defend against any wild animals they encounter.
Sometimes, the paths of righteousness take us through very dark valleys: situations that feel more overwhelming and disturbing than we can handle. Just when you think you can’t go on, He reminds us to fix our eyes on Him and not on our circumstances. He teaches us that all our problems are merely shadows, because He has already come this way before and defeated the most fearsome trial of all — death itself!
You will never be stuck in these dreary valleys even though they seem endless, because as He promises in this verse, He will not leave us there, but take us through it. In Isaiah 43:2, God says when you pass through the waters, I will be with you. Praise God that He will not only help us through frightening circumstances, but He will also be with us in them. Isn’t it such a great comfort to know that we are never, ever alone in our trials? The unfailing nature of our God is what gives David the confidence to say with surety that, because the Lord is with him, he will fear no evil. His plans for our lives are always for good (what He knows to be good!) — never for evil.
The unfailing nature of our God is what gives David the confidence to say that he will fear no evil
Psalm 23:5 — You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
He prospers us in the middle of adversity. Our Shepherd promises guidance and comfort not just when we go through exceptional circumstances, but even through the struggles of everyday living. Maybe you’re a student having to deal with peer pressure constantly, a new mama feeling totally helpless in the face of the sudden avalanche of responsibilities, or an employee caught in the crossfire of office politics. How do we face all this on a daily basis without getting frazzled?
In Philip Keller’s A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, the author talks about how, when the sheep move around, insects get inside their ears and noses, and torment them. They can literally drive them insane and cause them to dash their heads against the rocks, he notes. The shepherd, therefore, pours oil on their heads to keep the insects at bay. We too need to sit at the feet of our Shepherd daily and depend on the oil of His Holy Spirit. The beauty of our Lord is that He does not give in small measures, but until it overflows in our hearts and lives — if only we ask!
The beauty of our Lord is that He does not give in small measures, but until it overflows — if only we ask
As our journey progresses, so does our relationship with our Shepherd. Not only does He anoint our heads with oil, He goes one step further to prepare a great feast for us. What is this feast? The abundant life that He has promised with Him. We could have everything in this world and still find no meaning in this life — or we could have absolutely nothing, but still have a life that overflows with His love, joy, peace and purpose. He is able to give abundant love when our friends desert us, abundant grace when we lose our health, abundant peace when we lose our job, abundant joy when nothing is going our way. This is something that no one can take away from us. As Jesus says in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Even in the presence of our enemies, problems and fears, we can still find a reason to rejoice and celebrate, because He is with us and we shall overcome. His favour is like a shield all around us. This is the feast He has promised.
Life is never easy but God promises its trials are never in vain. He promises to be with us every step of the way and that His joy will be our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). So, rejoice in the Lord always, my friend, and again I say, rejoice (Philippians 4:4)!
A weekly brief of new resources and Scripture-based insights from our editorial team.