I remember quite some years ago as a young believer in Christ deliberately avoiding Psalm 23. Though I have often referred to myself as a “Psalms Junkie,” I somehow developed a noticeable aversion to this most famous of King David’s writings. To me, Psalm 23 was “The Death Psalm,” read again and again at both real-life and Hollywood-produced funerals regardless if the deceased professed to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Clearly, I thought, it was a Psalm for the unbeliever. Gratefully such thoughts were short lived as our loving God drew me back to this passage to correct my thinking.
In His incredible ability to take a passage we think we know, the Lord quickly revealed to me that Psalm 23 was not a Psalm of death, but a Psalm of Life for the believer in Jesus Christ. In his book, The Believer’s Bible Commentary, author William MacDonald puts it this way:
“Despite its worldwide popularity, the Psalm (23) is not for everyone. It is applicable only to those who are entitled to say, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd.’ It is true that the Good Shepherd died for all, but only those who actually receive Him by a definite act of faith are His sheep. His saving work is sufficient for all, but it is effective only for those who actually believe on Him. Everything therefore hinges on the personal pronoun my. Unless He is my Shepherd, the rest of the Psalm does not belong to me. On the other hand, if He is really mine, and I am really His, then I have everything in Him!”
If you are struggling to know what to read in your Bible today, why not read afresh Psalm 23 and with the help of the Holy Spirit, take hold of all that God has promised to us as believers –the sheep of His pasture. Allow the love of Jesus to cause you to rest in the green pastures that await those who would take the time to come away with Him. Ask the Good Shepherd to guide and lead you through whatever may be challenging you today. Let Him pour His soothing oil on your wounded heart. Contemplate that though “in this world we will have trouble” (John 16:33), the day is coming when we will meet Jesus at the great banquet table for a celebration made possible by His all sufficient work on Calvary’s cross. Pray that the Lord will put someone who needs to know Him as Savior in your path this week, embracing the opportunity to share through a Psalm they no doubt may have already heard the incredible Good News that this passage has to offer that they too might celebrate the notorious number 23 as The Believer’s Psalm.
Because He Loves,
Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995, p.580