A study ON PSALM 23 – #1
Along with John 3:16 the 23rd Psalm must be one of the best known passages of Scripture. Over the next few weeks we will be posting a series of short devotional meditations on this wonderful psalm.
As we begin it is useful as with all Bible study to consider context. Invariably Psalm 23 is considered as a stand alone unit and this is of course true however it is part of a greater whole and equally can be said to sit in an immediate context. The context I speak of is the preceding and succeeding psalms, Psalms 22 and 24.
Psalm 22 is sometimes referred to as the Psalm of the Cross, here we see the Good Shepherd lay down his life for the sheep, John 10:11. Psalm 24 is called the Psalm of the Crown, here, the Chief Shepherd is portrayed as ‘the King of glory’, Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 5:4 and Revelation 7:17. Psalm 23 is the Psalm of the Crook, the Divine Shepherd safely leads and cares for his sheep through life in this world. These insights are found in the writings of Spurgeon, Mayer, Finlayson and more recently Weatherhead and MacMillan among others.
In the wonderful Messianic psalm that is Psalm 22 we see Jesus crucified for us, note verses 1 (Matthewt 27:46), 6-8 (Matthew 27:39-43), 16-18 (John 19:34, Luke 23:27+35, Matthew 27:35) and 31 ‘…he has done it.’ NIV (John 19:30 ‘…It is finished.’ NIV). Through our Lord’s death and resurrection, ascension and glorification we are redeemed, we become the sheep of his pasture. We are now in the place where we can benefit from his gentle shepherding.
Psalm 24 casts our eyes forward to our eternal hope, Christ in us the hope of glory, Colossians 1:27. The wonderful future prospect of receiving a crown of glory from the Chief Shepherd, not only for church leaders but for all of us, 1 Peter 5:1-4 and 1 Peter 4:13 with Romans 8:17. What a wonderful prospect! We very much live in the here and now and thank God he is with us but we must never loose sight of our future hope because it is its joyful prospect that can help fortify us to face difficult times, Hebrews 12:1-3.
Between these two beautiful psalms in which we meet Jesus our Saviour and Jesus our King we have Psalm 23 – Jesus our loving Shepherd. Over the coming devotional series we will see the Good Shepherd always present, gently leading, providing for all our needs and protecting us from that which would seek to harm us. What a wonderful Saviour! What a wonderful King! What a wonderful Shepherd! Amen