Psalm 23 | All I Need Is You
1-3: I AM FULL
Jesus fulfils the desires and needs of my soul – my need for love, approval, acceptance, belonging, peace, security, success, achievement! So with the Lord as my shepherd – I shall not want. With the Lord as my shepherd – I AM FULL.
1″The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want”
- David uses his experience as a shepherd to understand and illustrate God
- ‘Not be in want’ – means to have nothing lacking, nothing short, no needs
- David is saying we have no need to want BECAUSE the Lord is our shepherd
- God is the Good Shepherd who provides for all the needs of our souls and satisfies our desires so that we lack nothing, so that we are not in want
- With God as my Good Shepherd I AM FULL.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3a he restores my soul.
- ‘He makes me lie down’ – the Hebrew verb structure here implies that action is being caused for us to lie down, so a more literal reading would read “he continually causes me to lie down”. How great the care of God that he makes us rest when we don’t know when or how to. See this article for more info.
- God is the one who gives us peace and fullness away from the chaos and emptiness of life
- Like a shepherd leading his sheep to this place on a daily basis, they travel out of an arid and dry place to a place that is peaceful, green and wholesome
- This is our relationship with Jesus, that out of the dryness and chaos of life, we come to him and find peace and refreshment
- Jesus = our Sabbath rest
- The Sabbath rest is now not a particular day, but a particular person and that person is Jesus. He is our rest, he is our peace and we can have a Sabbath moment with him anytime we like!
- ‘He restores my soul’
- ‘Restores’ = turn back – God is turning our souls back to him and restoring them, because we seek to fulfil our desires in the wrong things!
- Our souls have dysfunctional desires, and instead of fulfilling those desires in God we look to fulfil them in other things
- 3 ways Jesus was tempted and also listed in 1 John 2
- The lust of the flesh – hedonism – Jesus tempted with bread
- The lust of the eyes – materialism – Jesus tempted with the nations
- The boasting of the heart – egoism – Jesus tempted with pride
- There are other false shepherds which will promise other things in life and we may be tempted to follow those instead, but God is the good shepherd who truly gives us all we need!
3b He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
- God guides us because our hearts are prone to wander and constantly follow the wrong path – our hearts cling to whatever seems to satisfy us and so God is constantly guiding us back to him
- Ultimately, God blesses us for his own glory!
- Ephesians 1a – this passage is about our spiritual blessings in Christ, but the key emphasis which is repeated is ‘for the praise of his glory’ – we are blessed for his glory
- John Piper – “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”
4: I AM SAFE
We can experience huge amount of pain and hardship in life, but the good news is that God is with us, and if we give ourselves to him he will protect our souls And guide us through it all! So with the Lord as my Shepherd I am safe. I have no reason to be anxious or afraid.
4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
- David writes this like a certainty that he will and has gone through the valley – not if. In this life pain and hardship are expected and at some point we all walk through these valleys!
- ‘Valley’ – A valley is often depicted as a negative place in scripture, it is weak and vulnerable from a military point of view so this speaks of weakness and vulnerability to us
- ‘Shadow of death’ – this is a common Biblical phrase, insinuating that death is lingering nearby. That death might not be a physical reality but the feeling and presence of it is!
- This is very apt for how life can feel, when either death is knocking at your door, or the feeling of death is a part of your life!
- Really the ‘shadow of death’ is really just whatever threat or suffering you are experiencing in life!
I will fear no evil,
- The great promise and potential of the Christian life is that we do not not need to fear death – this is why Christians die well, because we have our hope in something beyond the grave!
- Meaning that whatever chaos or hardship is surrounding us in our circumstances, has no right or power to affect our souls!
- Meaning that life can look like a storm surrounding us, but our hearts can be like still waters within because Jesus is in command.
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
- We have no reason to fear because God is with us, his presence is with us and that means two things: protection & direction
- Rod = club used for protection and fighting predators
- God protects our souls from fear when we trust in him. He is our fortress, our refuge, our hiding place
- It’s like God has got us in one arm and has a big bat in the other hand!
- Staff – a shepherd’s crook for guidance/direction
- Because God is with us, he gives guidance and direction, meaning that we don’t need to worry or be anxious about the future
- God is with us every step of the way, he has given us his word for instruction, and the peace of the Holy Spirit to help make decisions
5-6: I AM BLESSED
In God we are blessed beyond measure! It is a blessing that is lavishly poured out on us and it boasts of God’s goodness and love towards us.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
- Feasting was a sign of blessing, prosperity and privilege
- Yet David writes that God does this despite of and in the presence of his enemies
- So despite the things in his life seeking to ruin him, he is still being blessed
- Despite our failures, our sin, our inadequacy, our experiences, our upbringing – God still blesses us despite those things!
- If you are willing to follow God and let your life be his for the making, then God will restore the ruins of your life
- The idea here is that God is showing off, feasting in the presence of enemies – if we give God our lives God will show off with them!
- Testimony – ex-criminal reading bedtime stories with his son
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
- ‘Anoint’ – not the usual word for anoint here, more about a lavish and fatty anointing
- ‘Cup’ – symbolic of our portion or lot in life
- Jesus ‘let this cup pass from me’
- ‘Overflows’ – could also mean saturated
- The idea being that God lavishly blesses us, he pours out his love and favour onto us!
- 1 John 3 – how great the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are!
- Eph 1 – God lavished his grace on us with all wisdom and understanding
- In God we are blessed beyond measure!!!
6Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
- ‘Follow’ – better translated as pursue, because David writing about being blessed in the presence of his enemies
- His enemies would normally pursue him, in fact he spent a lot of time being pursued by Saul and even his own son!
- But here he says that he is not being pursued by his enemies, but by God’s goodness and love!
- This is the kind of pursuing that a godly man does to the women he loves!
- The idea is how a woman feels wanted and loved when pursued is how we feel wanted and loved because God pursues us with his love!
- Because his goodness and love are pursuing us, whenever we stop in our tracks they pounce on us!
- Whenever we fail, mercy is right there. Whenever we fall to the ground, goodness is right there to help us stand on our feet again. Whenever we get tired, goodness is right there to help us keep going
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
- The reason for being blessed is because we are part of God’s household!
- A stranger gets limited access to the house, but a member of the household has full access and full blessing
- Eph 2 – we are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens and members of God’s household
- We are blessed because we are part of his family – and in God’s family we are blessed beyond measure!
- This is the great purpose of the gospel, that man is able to dwell with God again!
- Since the fall of man God has been weaving together a story and plan of redemption to buy his people back from sin so we can dwell with him once more!
- Having the Lord as our shepherd is a foretaste of what eternity will look like, because he will provide for our every need, we will have complete safety and security, and we will be blessed beyond measure!