A Psalm of ___________
Psalm 23 gives us some incredible insights into one of the most enigmatic, and at the same time, godly servants to be found in our Bibles. David was the youngest son in his family. When the prophet and judge, Samuel, came looking for God’s chosen king, David was not even presented to God’s servant as a possible candidate. He had to be called in from the fields where he was tending sheep.
But David, in spite of his many weaknesses and warts, went on to become Israel’s greatest king. He was a fearless and ruthless warrior. As a boy, he slew the Philistine giant, Goliath, with a sling and a stone. His dowry to claim Michel, King Saul’s daughter, was the foreskins of a hundred Philistines.
For twelve years, David hid from murderous King Saul, refusing to slay the man who sought his life even when given the opportunity to do so.
He had a lust problem, to be sure. He sent another man into battle to die so he could marry his wife, whom David had impregnated through an adulterous affair.
He wasn’t the best father either. His sons had some major issues. Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar. Absalom killed his brother for this unseemly and wicked behavior. He had planned to kill his father as well, but David declined the invitation to his son’s feast where the murder took place. Of course, it was Absalom who led an open rebellion against his father and was killed in the process.
I’m just scraping the surface here, but I think most of us would agree, David was not what most of us imagine when we think of godly servants of our Lord. And yet, God called David a man after His own heart.
I believe David wrote Psalm 23 late in life. It reflects the thought of Psalm 37:25, where he says, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken.”
If we understand righteousness in terms of Proverbs 24:16, which tells us that the righteous person falls seven times (the number of completion in scripture — over and over again), but gets back up, then we get a pretty good picture of the kind of follower of God David was. We also get a pretty good picture of the kinds of followers most of us are!
Psalm 23 is the reflection of a man who has spent a lifetime seeking to follow his God.
It tells us a lot about his relationship with God, a lot about the wisdom gained from a lifetime of experiences, good, bad, and ugly. And through all these experiences, David acknowledges that God has been to him like a shepherd.
In I Peter 2:25, we read these words — “For you were like ‘sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” The Greek word for “soul” gives us our English word psyche, which ultimately refers to our emotional makeup.
Souls need green pastures and still waters. Souls need comforting in the valleys of the shadow of death.
This is what makes Psalm 23 so deeply personal, not just for David but for us as well. The words of this psalm describe the experiences and feelings of others throughout the centuries since they were first written.
But here’s the question I want to leave you with today — does this psalm describe your life? In place of “A Psalm of David,” can you substitute your name? Do the words of this psalm echo in the deepest places of your soul? In spite of the good, bad, and ugly of your life, are you able to say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.”?
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