The key to the precious nature of this psalm over the generations of English speaking people is not just from its fine poetic nature but from the soothing promise of the first verse: " The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want ."
When God promises to be our Shepherd it suggests the tender care, protection, and provision reserved for those who are His own flock.
It presages the wonderful words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34 and wraps them in a package that has been opened over and over by those in great need and those just needing this tender assurance of God's presence.
If the whole world appears to have abandoned you, God assures us through Israel's singing prophet David that He is there all of the time.
I. I Shall Not Want For Provision 2a
" He makes me lie down in green pastures; "
Green pastures - literally DESHE Hebrew = tender green grass.
A scene of great contentment and serenity.
Provision of a restful cushion for the weary..
Provision of physical needs already taken care of ( hungry sheep do not lay down in tender grass unless they are full )
II. I Shall Not Want For Peace 2b
" He leads me beside quiet waters. "
Not stagnant; not tempestuous but gentle and still; smooth as glass.
This denotes the calmness, the repose of a soul at rest in God and at peace with God.
Wrought by the stormy and tempestuous sinful nature of men, the stream of Calvary brings peace and serenity to the soul forgiven by the sacrifice of the Son of God.
III. I Shall Not Want For Renewal 3a
" He restores my soul; "
Albert Barnes in his commentary on Psalms reveals that the Hebrew literally expresses
" He causes my life to return."
He causes me to really have life; to really live again.
Into the tired, weary, troubled, anxious life God will give renewed strength and vigor.
When your get and go has gone His Spirit gives you power to live victoriously.
IV. I Shall Not Want ForGuidance 3b
" He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. "
"Trust in the Lord with all of thine heart and lean not upon thine own understandings. In all ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5,6
He leads us down the narrow path that leads to life.
He leads us by way of the cross and salvation and declares us righteous in Him.
He leads us through the pitfalls of life and on to victory through following the Risen Son, the Righteous One.
Not solely for our salvation but " For His Name's Sake. "
Grace is shown by the provision of a plan of salvation for all of mankind.
God's character is revealed to others through us and so He guides us in paths where we can testify to His goodness and mercy; " Christ in you, the hope of Glory. "
V. I Shall Not Want For Courage 4a
" Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; "
Fix your eyes upon Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith and now way will be so dark that His light will not lead you through it.
The final enemy, death has been conquered, and death is no longer anything but the next step into what lies beyond this world.
No Fear! If God be for us, what can stand against us? Nothing! In all these things we are more than conquerors.
VI. I Shall Not Want For Comfort 4b
" Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. "
True comfort comes from knowing that God is omnipresent ; "always there " for us.
The Rod and The Staff are the symbols and tools of the Shepherd.
The Shepherd's rod was for gentle discipline of individual sheep and for warding off the enemies of the sheep when trhey came near.
The shepherd's crook or staff was used for rescue of sheep caught in tight spots or to pull back from danger or those wandering off.
He will never leave us on our own to fend for ourselves; He is always there.
VII. I Shall Not Want For Protection and Preservation 5a
' Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; "
When your enemy is at the gate and all seems lost; He is there setting the banquet table for you.
No danger is so great that God and you can't tackle it together.
The table will either be a place of peace between you and what attacks you or a table of victory over what tries to assail you.
God is just a prayer away; turn your head and He is there.
VIII. I Shall Not Want For Joy or Honor 5b
" Thou hast anointed my head with oil; "
Oil was a symbol of prosperity and happiness.
Oil was a symbol of separation for God's service.
Prophets were anointed with oil and set apart for God's service.
Priests were consecrated to God's service with the anointing of oil
Kings were coronated first by God indicating His choice of them for the nation of Israel.
When we became Christians God forgave our sins and anointed us with the Holy Spirit setting us apart for His service.
Our souls prosper and we rejoice in His service; the blessed privilege of being His people.
IX. I Shall Not Want For Blessing 5c
" My cup overflows. "
Count your blessing, name them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
He does exceedingly abundantly over what we can ask or think through the power that works within us. Ephesians 3:20.
God bestows rich gifts of grace upon us; our cups are not just full, they are overflowing.
X. I Shall Not Want For Favor 6a
" Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, "
The Holy Hound from heaven pursues but to provide goodness and mercy.
God is persistent in following us all the days of our lives because He loves us and bestows "grace upon grace" unto us as we believe and trust Him.
XI. I Shall Not Want Forever 6b
" and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever."
What is our privilege here will become our destiny later.
We engage in holy activities and solemn worship here and will enter that celestial city where all it is altogether holy because God is there.
In that place there will no longer be any death, or mourning, or crying or pain and we will no longer be separated from those we love who passed on before us in Him or from our God who gives us life and joy forever. Read Revelation 21
There are seven compound titles used in the Old Testament of God and the 23rd Psalm uses all them in concept.
Jehovah-Raah - The Lord, My Shepherd; Psalm 23:1
Jehovah-Jireh - The Lord, My Provider; Genesis 22:13,14........" I shall not want "
Jehovah-Rapha - The Lord, My Healer; Exodus 15:26 .............." He restoreth my soul "
Jehovah-Shaloam - The Lord, My Peace; Judges 6:24............. " He leadeth me beside "
Jehovah-Tsidkenn - The Lord, My Righteousness; Jeremiah 23:6 ...." He guideth me in paths "
Jehovah-Shammah - The Lord, Everpresent; Ezekiel 48:35 .............. " Thou art with me "
Jehovah-Nissi - The Lord, My Banner; Exodus 17:8-15 ... " Thou preparest a table before me "
Is He your Shepherd? He can be if you submit your life to His keeping today.