Godís Faithful Provisions for His
People Psalm 23
Dr. Jerry A. Collins
The essence of this Psalm
is a meditation on all that the Lord does for the one who trusts in Him. Each
individual sheep can claim the care which is promised to the whole flock. In
the Psalm David meditates upon several significant ways that the persistent loyal
love of the Lord provides for his spiritual and physical well-being. This
faithful provision of the Lord draws David toward full communion with God in
THE LORD SUPPLIES OUR SPIRITUAL NORISHMENT Verse 1-2
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me
lie down in green pastures.
The Psalm begins with the
metaphor the Lord is my shepherd. The stress is on my
shepherd or my feeder. The image
of God as a shepherd presents the Lord as spiritual provider for His people.
God is not literally a shepherd and we are not literally sheep, but both are
like that. As a shepherd of His people, the Lord feeds them by providing
spiritual nourishment for their spiritual development. Often, this is done
through His servants, who also have the responsibility of shepherding. Jesus
instructed His disciple Peter, and later an apostle, to feed my sheep (John 21:16). Peter called elders to feed and care
for their flock shepherd
the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but
voluntarily (1 Peter 5:1-4). So, one image
of the shepherd encompasses teaching.
PT: The description of leadership as shepherding, reveals that the
ministry of spiritual leaders, disciplers, and teachers is a shepherding
responsibility, not one of spiritual authority.
metaphor continues with an announcement about the quality of this provision,
namely, I shall not want or I lack nothing. What is being affirmed here is that there is no deficiency in the
Lordís provision. The result of this provision is that it habitually
supplies everything essential for the spiritual nourishment of His people. But
not only that, itís quality is the best possible He makes me lie down in green pastures.
Itís the rich and abundant grass of springtime. The image is that of grassy
meadows where a shepherd regularly leads his sheep to lie down for refreshment
from the journey, possibly after eating or during the heat of the sun.†
PT: The lesson is that the Lord meets our spiritual needs and in the process supplies us with the very best provision
of spiritual food at any time and anywhere we are in life.
THE LORD SUPPLIES OUR SPIRITUAL REFRESHMENT Verse 2-3 †
He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.
The shepherd refreshes his
sheep with cleansing and rest. Two things Godís people need relief from are
guilt and shame, and anxious restlessness. The waters to which the Lord leads are quiet or restful. The
Lord leads me beside these pools. Godís sheep are not taken to rushing
streams or raging rivers, attempting to cross their currents or navigate their
waves, but to still, calm pools of refreshment. While here, the sheep not only
guzzle cool water, but the placid waters provide cleansing of soiled spots and
washing of wounds from their travels.
PT: The Lord brings spiritual refreshment to His people. The Lord
cleanses his people from sin and shame while providing spiritual renewal from
the chaos of life.
The image beside quiet waters is
an emblem of a spiritual reality He
restores my soul. The Lord restores,
rebuilds, repairs, and renews the life of His sheep. He brings their lives back
to their original state of being, before chaos interrupted. God restores us to
our proper spiritual and physical condition by forgiveness and personal
renewal. Why would we need this kind of provision? One reason is our tendency
toward spiritual waywardness. Sheep tend to wander, get lost, and endangered.
An example is Jesus the shepherd retrieving the lost sheep who needed to
repent. What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of
them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one
which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays
it on his shoulders, rejoicing (Luke 15:4-5).
PT: This spiritual healing and
refreshment can come to us through prayer, teaching, and our own meditations
upon the Scriptures. Our spiritual restoration is an essential component to living
a righteous life.
THE LORD SUPPLIES US WITH APPROPRIATE GUIDANCE Verse 3
He guides me in the paths
of righteousness for
His name's sake.
Here is affirmation that the
Lord leads as a shepherd He guides me.
This guidance is from the Lord effected through circumstances in life, or
through the revealed Word of God, or by means of spiritual guides and teachers.
Ultimately, God has sovereign control over the lives of His sheep to direct
them as to where to go. The guidance is always in the paths of righteousness. These would be the right tracks,
oneís that can be followed in order to find the way home safely. The fact that
they are paths of righteousness makes
them appropriate avenues to traverse.
PT: The most important question we
can ask about ourselves in every decision we make is Ďhow righteous do I want
to be?í That is always where our shepherd would lead us to go.
God, the shepherd, never leads
His sheep in any other path but the righteous one. He does so because Godís
nature is to do so, and Godís reputation is associated with His nature for His nameís sake. The life of the
sheep is never jeopardized by following the Lordís guidance. If the Lord lost
the sheep, or the sheep lost their way home, the Lord would gain a bad
reputation as a worthless shepherd. But this is not possible for this shepherd,
or for His sheep who follow Him.
PT: The people of God will
experience conflicted messages from the world that can lead them astray. Godís
guidance through His Word will always be appropriate righteous paths.
THE LORD SUPPLIES US WITH NECESSARY PROTECTION Verse 4
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are
with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
The idiom of walking through
the valley signifies the dangerous way that the life of Gods sheep might
take them. This image of difficult terrain to maneuver pictures some type of
life-threatening experience for the sheep. This idea is suggested by the use of the shadow of death. It is a combination
of two words meaning Ďdeathly darknessí or Ďdarkness of deathí. It is a figure
that describes terrors in the valleys which stretched all over the wilderness terrain
of Israel. It is a vivid description of the dangerous places where the threats
to life is like death casting its shadow over the traveler.
Even traversing these valleys, Gods sheep need fear no evil. David, of course, had
often found himself in such dilemmas. But the reason for no fear was because You are with me. The Lordís presence
makes all the difference in the outlook of Gods peopleóeven if its as dangerous
as the terror of the valleys of life. The Lord is with His people in those
dangerous places. This protection is associated with the Lordís rod and staff. These images refer to
the care and the defense the Lord bring to us in such vulnerable situations. He
says they comfort me while traversing
that dark valley. The rod prods us
along while the staff lends us
support where and when needed.
PT: When Jesus gave the disciples the Great Commission, Jesus
promised and lo, I am with you always,
even unto the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Peterís comforting words to
us were to cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for
you (1 Peter 5:7). Sometimes the Lord is with us through the valley like Job. At
other times the Lord is with us delivering us from the valley like Noah. We can
trust our Shepherd.
LORD SUPPLIES US WITH OUR PHYSICAL SUSTENANCE Verse 5
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with
oil; my cup overflows.
With this verse we shift
from the pasture and shepherd, to a banquet host. The Lord provides for His
guests the way a banquet host does You
prepare a table before me. It is the Lord who supplies all good gifts to
us. James said every good thing given and every perfect gift
is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no
variation or shifting shadow
(James 1:17). Honored guests are safe
because the host is obliged to supply for their needs even in the presence of my enemies. Sitting down to eat and drink in the
midst of personal danger is a picture of sustenance and security the Shepherd
supplies in life. God is always meeting our needs even Ďin the face ofí those
who oppose or harass us.
The image You have anointed my head with
oil is another gratifying provision of hospitality for an honored
guest. The oil or perfume would be a
welcome reprieve to freshen up before banqueting after a weather-beaten
journey. Modern lotions and soaps would be equivalent to this refreshment, joy,
and comfort provided before dining at a friendís home. Jesus acknowledged the
woman anointing Him as an example of this refreshing hospitality. You
did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume (Luke 7:46). The final exclamation my cup overflows captures the idea that the Lord has filled His sheepís life with
many, many good things. So good, in fact, they are abundant and magnanimous in
PT: Ascribing this type of lavish treatment to God as a host is
saying that our God in heaven welcomes us to His table of bounty, which is a perpetual
provision of abundant joy and personal refreshment for His people. But
seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be
added to you (Matthew 6:33).
THE LORDS PROVISIONS ENCOURAGE OUR PRAISE AND WORSHIP Verse 6
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of
my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
word surely marks the conclusion to
this meditation. There is a change from God as shepherd and host, to the focus
on the Lord exclusively in his holy house
on the house of he Lord. The entire mediation
culminates in a desire for more communion with the Lord. Specifically, that
communion is upon the goodness and
lovingkindness of the Lord that will
follow me in life. This combination of attributes is a way to fixate upon
Godís faithful love for each of His sheep. God keeps His promises to His
people. It is God who will pursue us and extend His loyal love every single
step of the way all the days of my life!
upon this reality, Godís sheep are drawn to the place of praise and worship as
they reflect upon the Lordís provision throughout life and in the very moment
of need. For the Old Testament believer that meant returning to the Temple of
God, the sanctuary. Here they would be taught the Word of God, pray and praise,
and find forgiveness and provision through the sacrifices and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. It is in the sanctuary they
could avail themselves of divine provisions where the presence of God would be
PT: Christians now focus on the heavenly temple, the eternal dwelling
place of God from where our God hears or prayers and supplies for our needs.
This is the place of unbroken fellowship with our Lord.† †††
meditate often upon the manifold provisions of the Lordís faithful love to each
of us throughout our lives. Praise your Father in Heaven every time He
We are always
in the presence of the Lord today, and so we can walk in perpetual unbroken
fellowship with Him as we are taught His Word, find spiritual restoration, guided
into righteousness, reminded of His abundant provision, receiving from His
bounty on life, and then spurred on to joyfully praise and worship our Lord.
Father, take on a spiritual shepherding responsibility for those believers
around you, in your sphere of influence, by providing for their spiritual