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Psalm 23 is not considered a MESSIANIC Psalm. It is not quoted anywhere in the New Testament. The nearest place would be Chapter 10 in the Gospel of John, where John speaks of the GOOD SHEPHERD Who gave His life for the sheep (Jn.10:11).
But even though Psalm 23 is not considered a MESSIANIC Psalm, I am placing it here in MESSIANIC Psalms because to me, it speaks of the MESSIAH, and what He as our beloved SHEPHERD does for us. I look forward to the day when the entire world shall honor and glorify our awesome JESUS, instead of blaspheming Him.
Isaiah 45:23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (KJV)
Romans 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. (KJV)
Revelation 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (KJV)
Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (KJV)
Revelation 22:20He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (KJV)
Psalm 23 is about our Beloved SHEPHERD. Psalms 23 is the Pearl of all the Psalms. Psalm 23 to me is Chapter 10 of John in the Old Testament.
Psalm 23 was written by David. We can see his human side in every verse, but the Guiding Power and the actual Author is the HOLY SPIRIT.
The Psalms were divided by the Jews into five song books, which compare to the first five books of the Old Testament.
(1). Psalms 1 through 41 compare to Genesis. They speak of our election.
(2). Psalms 42 through 72 compare to Exodus. They speak of our salvation.
(3). Psalms 78 through 83 compare to Leviticus. They speak of our sanctification.
(4). Psalms 84 through 106 compare to Numbers. They speak of our warfare.
(5). Psalms 107 through 150 compare to Deuteronomy. They speak of our obedience.
The following Psalms go far beyond David and point to the LORD and SAVIOUR, JUDGE and KING, CHRIST JESUS.
(1). Psalm 1 = the Blessed Man.
(2). Psalm 2 = the King.
(3). Psalm 3 = the Accused One.
(4). Psalm 5 = the Righteous One.
(5). Psalm 6 = the Groaning One.
(6). Psalm 8 = Son of Man.
(7). Psalm 10 = the LORD.
(8). Psalm 18 = the Distressed One.
(9). Psalm 22 = the Suffering One.
(10). Psalm 23 = the Shepherd.
Tremendous Provisions made by GOD in Psalm 23.
(1). Physical man. I shall not want. Verse 1.
(2). The spiritual man. He restoreth my soul. Verse 2.
(3). The present. Goodness and mercy shall follow me. Verse 6.
(4). The future. I shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever. Verse 6 .
(5). The disasters and uncertainties of life. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Verse 4.
(6). Full satisfaction for the whole man. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness. Verse 3.
Psalm 23 is a very well-known and well-loved Psalm. Even many unsaved people can quote part or all of Psalm 23. Its words are touching and tender. It is written as a sheep boasting about his shepherd and what his shepherd has done for him. Sheep need a lot of care, for they are so prone to wander, stray, are very vulnerable to attack, defenseless, not to mention they tend to be stubborn, doing the same dumb things over and over again. Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (KJV)
Sheep need a shepherd or they would be goners, but they need a good shepherd. The nation of Israel is often compared to sheep. Their leaders were responsible to care for the sheep of Israel, but had failed miserably. The following is a vivid picture of how evil Israel's shepherds were.
Ezekiel 34:1-10 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. 7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. (KJV)
What will GOD'S response to this be? GOD will personally care for and shepherd (guide, direct) His flock. GOD Himself will personally save His flock and establish a King from David's loins to be their SHEPHERD, that being the Lord JESUS CHRIST (Eze.34:11-12; 22-24). This will happen when CHRIST returns to Earth and establishes His Kingdom here. Most people do not realize that Psalm 23 is really a prophetic Psalm that looks ahead to this day when CHRIST shall return (Zec.14:1-5; Rev.19:11-21) and deliver His flock, the believing remnant of Israel. CHRIST JESUS is the Holy One of Israel, their MESSIAH; and only in Him can His people be more blessed than in any other blessing. The True Israel: (Gal. Ch.3); also: (Rom.1:16; 2:9-10; 3:29-30; 4:11-12; 8:14-17; 9:24; 10:12-15; 1 Cor.7:19; 12:13; Eph.3:5-19; Col.3:11).
CHRIST came to Israel and declared Himself to be the Good SHEPHERD (John 10:11), but Israel rejected Him. He rose from the dead as the Great SHEPHERD (Hebrews 13:20) and will one day return as the Chief SHEPHERD (1 Peter 5:4). When CHRIST JESUS returns, Psalm 23 will be literally fulfilled.
Israel will have the LORD as their SHEPHERD and never lack again. David said, The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want (lack anything). David foresees a future condition based on the present fact that the LORD was his SHEPHERD. We know that David had been persecuted by Saul and Absalom. He had known extreme trials, deep poverty and severe hardship. David is looking forward in faith to a day described in: Ezekiel 34:12-15 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
13 And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. (KJV)
As this Psalm continues, it will add to the thought, I shall not want. It will show how Israel will never lack or have need again when they finally turn to JESUS and recognize Him as their MESSIAH and SHEPHERD. Israel will experience a total and wide-ranging peace. Israel's history has been one of turmoil and intense unrest (Zec.12:2-3). Notice the peace and rest that the SHEPHERD shall give in verse 2 . . . lie down, still waters. Sheep are afraid of fast, rushing waters, so the LORD leads us to still waters!
In the Tribulation Period, Israel will be under the most vicious attack in all its history. When it looks as if all hope is gone and Israel is about to be destroyed by the Antichrist and his armies, the CHIEF SHEPHERD will appear. Dear one, JESUS will personally rescue the believing remnant of Israel and will personally lead them from their places of hiding to their own land (Jer.31:8-11; 23:3-4, 6-8). GOD will cause them to lie down safely (Eze.34:15, 28).
Israel has always been a rebellious people. They have repeatedly rejected GOD'S principles of righteousness, but Israel will be given complete righteousness. When CHRIST, the CHIEF SHEPHERD, appears . . . see what He does for His flock: Jeremiah 31:31-34 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (KJV)
GOD will completely and totally take away their sin: Ezekiel 36:25-27 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (KJV) Ezekiel 37:23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. (KJV) . . . GOD will place His law in their hearts and minds. http://godcannotlie.org/book_of_ezekiel_ch36.htm
CHRIST will be their SHEPHERD/KING, and He shall b called the Lord our Righteousness (Jer.23:6). Sin will never be an issue again. He will bring full restoration to their souls and lead them in paths of complete righteousness. The True Israel: (Gal. Ch.3); also: (Rom.1:16; 2:9-10; 3:29-30; 4:11-12; 8:14-17; 9:24; 10:12-15; 1 Cor.7:19; 12:13; Eph.3:5-19; Col.3:11).
BUT . . . before the Return of CHRIST, Israel (and all others on the Earth at that time), will go through a time of darkness, despair and trouble, like this world has never seen before.
Jeremiah 30:7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. (KJV)
Joel 2:1-2 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; 2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. (KJV)
Matthew 24:21-22 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (KJV)
Israel will be forced to flee from the wrath of the Antichrist. Revelation 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. (KJV) . . . And the woman fled into the wilderness, where GOD had prepared a place to give her care for 1,260 days. The woman (Israel) flees to a place prepared by GOD for her; some say possibly Sela (Isa.16:1-4). During the most intense part of the Tribulation period, this remnant will be well protected by GOD in this place (Mat.24:16). I don’t know where this hiding place is, but it is there. To us, it really does not matter where it is, only that it does exist and that Israel shall go there at this time. The believing remnant will flee into the wilderness just as they did when they left Egypt. GOD comforted Israel during that time by shepherding them, caring for them and feeding them and He will do the same thing for Israel again, right before His Return.
When Christ returns, He will gather ALL nations before Him. The believing remnant of Israel and those who befriend her, will receive divine blessings, but her enemies and all who hate her shall receive everlasting punishment (Mat.25:31-46). BEWARE! Do not hate Israel!
Israel will actually receive GOD'S blessing in the presence of her enemies (Eze.4:13-16). He will gather them out of all countries, and bring them into their own land (Eze.36:24). GOD will put His SPIRIT within them (Eze.36:27). Israel's cup shall overflow with GOD'S blessings (Jer.31:12-14; Eze.34:26-27; 36:30, 33-38). It seems that GOD will actually take His House and bring it down to them on Earth. Ezekiel 37:26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. (KJV) . . . And will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore . . . not a physical Temple (Rev.21:22), but His Word and His spiritual Presence with them (Rev.21:23-24), and which shall continue forever.
We should consider the position of this Psalm; it follows Psalm 22, which is the exceptional Psalm of the Cross. There are NO green pastures, NO still waters on the other side of Psalm 22. Only after we have read, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Mat.27:46; Mk.15:34), do we come to the LORD is my Shepherd (Ps.23:1). We must see and understand that the sword awakened AGAINST the SHEPHERD, before we can ever truly know and feel the sweet goodness of the SHEPHERD'S care. In Psalm 22, He is the GOOD SHEPHERD who gave His life for the sheep; in Psalm 23, He is the GREAT SHEPHERD, who in resurrection glory leads His sheep; in Psalm 24, He is the CHIEF SHEPHERD who is to return in glory.
Psalm 23 is the most delightful song in the entire Book of Psalms, for its beauty has been sung to many a mourner in his weeping, and has given him hope for a morning of joy. The last words of the Psalm: I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever . . . make us wonder about the eternal mansions above (Jn.14:2),and our inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you (1 Pet.1:4).
A different way to look at Psalm 23:
The Lord is my Shepherd . . . That is relationship!
I shall not want . . . That is provisions supplied!
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures . . . That is rest after a hard day!
He leadeth me beside the still waters . . . That is being refreshed!
He restoreth my soul . . . That is healing!
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness . . . That is being correctly guided!
For His name sake . . . That is faithful determination!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . . That is trying times!
I will fear no evil . . . That is confidence and trust!
For Thou art with me . . . That is knowing He is there to stay!
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me . . . That is dependable, reliable protection!
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies . . . That is being hopeful!
Thou annointest my head with oil . . . That is being holy, sanctified!
My cup runneth over . . . That is an abundant quantity!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life . . . That is a Blessing!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord . . . That is safety, security!
Forever . . . That is eternity, no end!
Psalm 23 is one of a trio of Psalms that belong together: Psalms 22, 23 and 24, and they are called the Shepherd Psalms. In Psalm 22, He is the GOOD SHEPHERD. The Lord JESUS Himself said: John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (KJV) In Psalm 23, He is the GREAT SHEPHERD. Hebrews 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (KJV) . . . Psalm 23 reveals JESUS as the GREAT SHEPHERD.
In Psalm 24, we see Him as the CHIEF SHEPHERD. 1 Peter 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (KJV) . . . To put it briefly, in Psalm 22 we see the cross, in Psalm 23 we see the SHEPHERD'S staff, and in Psalm 24 we see the crown of the KING. In Psalm 22 CHRIST is the SAVIOUR; in Psalm 23 He is the SATISFIER; in Psalm 24 He is the SOVEREIGN. In Psalm 22 He is the FOUNDATION; in Psalm 23 He is the DEMONSTRATION; in Psalm 24 He is the EXPECTATION. In Psalm 22 He dies; in Psalm 23 He is alive; in Psalm 24 He is coming. Psalm 22 speaks of the past; Psalm 23 speaks of the present; and Psalm 24 speaks of the future. In Psalm 22 He gives His life for the sheep; in Psalm 23 He gives His love to the sheep; in Psalm 24 He gives us His Promise that He shall appear. What a wonderful picture we have of JESUS in these three Psalms!
Psalm 23 is probably the most familiar Passage in the entire Word of GOD. No other writing of any time or of any other work has been so widely circulated and well known. Both Jews and Christians are very familiar with this Psalm, and the entire world knows its beauty.
Theme: CHRIST as the GREAT SHEPHERD.
Introduction: Many of David's Psalms are full of complaints, but Psalm 23 is full of comforts! The expressions of delight in GOD'S great goodness really comfort the soul! The dependence upon GOD’S GREAT SHEPHERD comfort the mind. It is a Psalm that has been recited by Christians, and even some unbelievers know the words of it. It shall be with us as long as the world stands, providing us with much comfort, pleasure and satisfaction. The psalmist claims a relationship to GOD as his SHEPHERD (23:1). He tells of his experience of the kind things GOD had done for him as his SHEPHERD (23:2, 3, 5). He knows that he has no need to fear evil (23:4), because GOD would never leave nor forsake him (Heb.13:5), and so he chooses never to leave nor forsake GOD in his duty (23:6). He not only understood the blessings of GOD'S far sightedness, which made him feel easy in his life, but he also understood the road of GOD'S grace, received by his faith, and he returned his love to GOD in warm, deep hearted devotion, because the grace of GOD filled his soul with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pet.1:8). Just as in Psalm 22, David represents CHRIST dying for His sheep, here in Psalm 23, he represents Christians receiving the benefit of all the care and tenderness of that great and good SHEPHERD. Under a symbol from scenes of rural life, with which David knew very well, he describes GOD'S preordained care in providing refreshment, guidance, protection and abundance in the lives of GOD’S sheep, giving us confidence in His everlasting favor.
Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (KJV)
The LORD is my shepherd . . . the SHEPHERD, the stone of Israel (Gen.49:24). There are two symbols in this Psalm which are well adapted to the purpose for which they are produced, and supported both with art and elegance. The first is that of a shepherd; the second, is that of a great feast, set out by a most kind and the most liberal host. As a flock of sheep, they have the most excellent pasture; as guests, they have the most nutritious and plentiful fare. GOD condescends to call Himself the SHEPHERD of His people, and His followers are considered as a flock under His guidance and direction.
(1). He leads them in and out, so the sheep find pasture and safety.
(2). He knows exactly where to feed them, and in the path of His grace and wisdom, He leads them in the way in that they should go.
(3). He watches over them and keeps them from being destroyed by ravenous beasts.
(4). If any of the sheep stray, He brings them back.
(5). He leads them to shade when it is blazing hot; and in times of persecution and affliction, He finds a refuge for them.
(6). He makes sure that they lack no manner of anything that is good.
WHO is it that are in His flock? All who sincerely repent, all TRUE believers; all who obediently follow His example, abstaining from every appearance of evil, and in a holy life showing the virtues of Him who called them from darkness into His marvelous light. My sheep hear my voice, and follow me(Jn.10:27).
WHO is it that are NOT in His flock! NOT the backslider in heart, nor the vile Antinomian, who thinks the more he sins, the more the grace of GOD shall be magnified in saving him.
Neither is it those who think they are covered with the righteousness of CHRIST while living in sin; nor those who are indifferent and careless, nor the huge herd of Laodicean wanderers (Rev.3:14); nor the racists who would exclude all from Heaven but themselves. The Scripture compares these to swine, dogs (Mat.7:6; 2 Pet.2:22), wandering stars (Jude 1:13), foxes (Eze.13:4), lions (Zep.3:3), and wells without water (2 Pet.2:17). NONE of these shall feed on the provided pasture, or drink at the still waters. CHRIST JESUS is the GREAT SHEPHERD; the SHEPHERD who, to save His flock, laid down His own life.
I shall not want . . . He who is their SHEPHERD has all power in Heaven and Earth, and because of this, He can protect them. The silver and gold are His (Hag.2:8) and the cattle on a thousand hills Ps.50:10), so He can sustain them. He has ALL that His sheep need, and because His heart is full of love to mankind, He will not withhold anything from them that is good.
I shall not want . . . this does NOT mean that He will fulfil ALL our desires. It means that He will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly (Ps.84:11). When Israel wandered in the wilderness, they lacked nothing (Deut.2:7), this should tell us that our SHEPHERD will make full and complete provision for whatever we need. If we find ourselves wanting, thinking that we lack something, we should understand that it is NOT because He has failed, but because our SHEPHERD knows what it is good for us, and so we should be content (Ps. 34:10; 84:11).
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (KJV)
1 Timothy 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (KJV)
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (KJV) . . . Be wise!
*****The LORD is my shepherd . . . so many people say these words, but unless you have a personal relationship with the SHEPHERD, and you really mean what you say, your words are like smoke in the wind! When you say: the LORD is my shepherd, you must agree that it is by the power of JESUS’ redemptive work and His death and His resurrection, that you trust Him and call Him your SHEPHERD. David said, the LORD is my shepherd . . . this is what he declared . . . can YOU also declare it . . . and mean it?
I shall not want . . . what is it that we need? We need protection, we need security. We are sheep, dirty, dumb little animals. My SHEPHERD sees to it that I do not lack protection. He protects me. The security of TRUE believers (His sheep) rests entirely on the GREAT SHEPHERD. http://www.godcannotlie.org/true_children_of_god.htm
Psalm 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (KJV)
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures . . . these green pastures may mean GOD’S Blessings and Promises, where there is delicious food; also the fullness of grace in CHRIST, from where grace is received. Here the sheep of CHRIST are made to lie down, meaning they are satisfied and happy. The green pastures satisfy and replenish, and are also their rest and safety, these being sure dwellings and quiet resting places, even in the noon of temptation and persecution (Song 1:7). Because I believe that the Bible is its own best commentary, I think it wise to bring the following Passage: Ezekiel 34:14-15 I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15 I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. (KJV)
He leadeth me beside the still waters . . . deep, still waters that the strongest heat of the day could not deplete or exhaust; quiet waters of peacefulness and rest; not fast, rushing torrents, which by reason of the noise and the speed of their motion, the sheep are afraid, and not able to drink. The SHEPHERD leads beside still waters, pure and clear that go softly, like the waters of Shiloah (Isa.8:6); and He leads them is in a kind, gentle way that they are able to bear it; as Jacob led his flock (Gen.33:14); and CHRIST leads His flock (Isa.40:11). Dear one, these still, quiet and refreshing waters are the same still waters to which those that are athirst are invited to come (Isa.55:1); and in the everlasting state where CHRIST will still continue to be a SHEPHERD, and will feed His sheep, and lead them to fountains of living water, where they shall comfort themselves for ever, and shall know no more sorrow and sighing (Rev.7:17).
*****We experience the benefit of GOD'S Presence with us and care of us now, and so we expect it to be marvelous when we need it most. For the comforts of living saints, GOD is our SHEPHERD and our GOD. He is all-sufficient for all intents and purposes. David found Him to be so, and we have too. Consider the happiness of the sheep of GOD. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. We have the support and comfort of this life, and we have our daily bread from Him as our FATHER (Mat.6:11; 1 Jn.3:1-2). Dear one, the greatest abundance is but a hot, dry pasture to a wicked man, who enjoys only that in it which pleases the senses . . . but to a TRUE child of GOD, who feels the love of GOD and tastes the goodness of GOD in all that he does, and by faith delights in the fact that, even though he has but little of the world, it is a tender, green pasture.
Psalm 37:16 A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. (KJV)
Proverbs 3:33 The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just. (KJV)
Proverbs 13:25The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want. (KJV)
Proverbs 15:16-17 Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. 17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. (KJV)
Proverbs 16:8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right. (KJV)
Ecclesiastes 4:6 Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit. (KJV)
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. (KJV)
GOD'S green pastures is the food He provides for all believers; and the Word of GOD is the nourishment of the new man (Eph.4:24; Col.3:10). It is milk for babies, pasture for sheep, it is never barren, never eaten bare, never parched, but continually a tender green pasture for those of faith to feed in. The SHEPHERD makes His sheep to lie down; He gives them such a quiet contentment in their minds that their souls dwell completely at ease in Him, thus making every pasture green. We are blessed indeed with the green pastures He makes available to us. Because of the serenity and security of these green pastures, it is not enough just to pass through them, let us lie down and rest in them and live in them; for this is our rest for ever. It is by the wondrous faithfulness of our SHEPHERD that our soul is fed.
Psalm 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (KJV)
He restoreth my soul . . . He quickens me; He causes me to live. The word soul here means life, or spirit. It refers to the spirit when tired, weary or sad; and means that GOD quickens, energizes, invigorates or revives the spirit when it is exhausted. The reference is not to the soul as wandering or backsliding from GOD, but to the life or spirit as tired, wearied, troubled, anxious, worn down with care and toil. He brings back its vigor. He encourages it; excites it to new effort; fills it with new joy.
He leadeth, he in the paths of righteousness . . . in the paths of truth and holiness, in right paths, right ways. The SHEPHERD leads me in the strait path (Mat.7:13-14) that leads to Himself; He does not allow me to wander in ways that would lead to ruin. Sometimes these right paths seem rough and rugged to the sheep of CHRIST, for there is no turning to the right or the left, but unless we want to have eternal life, we must stay on the narrow path with the SHEPHERD.
For his name's sake . . . for His own glory and the praise of His grace, and NOT for any merits or rewards in men. The emotion expressed in this verse is that of confidence in GOD; assuring that He would always lead His people in the path in which they should go (Ps.25:9-10). This the SHEPHERD will always do IF people will keep His commandments (Jn.14:15; 15:10), the leading of His SPIRIT and the guidance of His providence (1 Thes.5:19). Those who surrender to Him will never go astray! His name's sake: 1 Sam.12:22; Ps.106:8; 1 Jn.2:12; 3 Jn.1:7).
*****GOD provides not only food and rest for His people, but also refreshment and pleasure. The comforts of GOD and the joys of the HOLY SPIRIT are found in the still waters, by which the sheep are led, quiet streams which flow from the fountain of living waters (Song 4:15; Jer.2:13; 17:13; Zec.14:8; Rev.7:17), and make glad the people of GOD. The SHEPHERD leads His sheep, not to the standing waters which are unpleasant and gather filth, not to the troubled sea, nor to the rapid rolling torrents, but to silent flowing waters; for the still waters agree best with those spirits that flow towards GOD in a silent way. The Holy Guidance which they are under (Jn.14:16-17; 15:26; Rom.5:5; 8:9), leads in the paths of righteousness, in the way of duty; in that He instructs by GOD’S Holy Word and directs us by conscience and wisdom. The way of duty is a truly pleasant way, for it is the work of righteousness, which is peace. In these paths a person cannot walk unless the SHEPHERD both lead us into them and lead us in them.
He restores us when we wander. No other creature will lose itself quicker than a sheep. They are so quick to go astray, and then totally unable to find its way back. The best of saints know and realize that they are inclined to go astray like lost sheep (Ps.119:176). They know that they can mess up, and turn onto a wrong path; but when GOD shows them their error (Heb.12:5-11; Rev.3:19), and they repent, He brings them back to their duty again. Although GOD does allow His people to fall into sin, He will NOT allow them to be at peace in it. IF they do not repent and insist on living in sin, it is very doubtful that they are the sheep in GOD’S fold!
I bring the following from our godcannotlie web site. It may help some better understand.
1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. [KJV]
Anyone who keeps on sinning are against God, for every sin is done against the will of God. Everyone who sins breaks God’s law. Every sin is lawlessness, every sin is disobedience to God. There are NO exceptions! But there is a big difference in committing a sin and continuing in sin. ALL believers sin (Rom.3:10, 23). Not one is exempt! But when a believer sins, the Holy Spirit convicts them of that sin, and it is impossible (for me) to feel right, until I repent of that sin, and confess it to God, and get rid of it (1 Jn.1:8-9). I deeply regret what I have done. Fellowship I have with God, is gone, and there is a big, high wall that is between us, and it makes me feel just plain rotten! I just have to get right with Him again.
Continuing in sin (practicing sin) is a whole different thing. This person is NOT sorry for sin, or they would STOP. They remain in that sin, they seem to ‘cherish’ that sin. Some may make excuses for not forsaking their sin; but that is exactly what it is, excuses! This person will not confess their sin and so, they never receive forgiveness. This person is against God, no matter what they may say. Their ‘religion’ is their sin! (Religion is any system of conduct or practices.) Mat.7:16, 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. [KJV] (Jesus’ words).
1 John 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. [KJV]
Jesus came so that He might take away our sins. He (Jesus) was ‘manifested’ . . . He appeared, He became a Man . . . so He could die . . . for us, so that He could take away our sins.
- #1. He died a redemptive death to pay the penalty of our sins.
- #2. Also, He died so He could deliver us from the power of sin, here and now!
- #3. He was our Sacrificial Lamb, without spot or blemish (1 Pet.1:18-19; Jn.1:29; Ex.12:5; Heb.9:14).
- #4. He lived a perfect life, without ANY sin whatsoever, and sacrificed Himself for Our sins; and God the Father accepted that Sacrifice (Eph.5:2), and accepts anyone, who accepts Christ and His Sacrifice.
1 John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. [KJV]
NO one who abides in Christ can keep on sinning. NO one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.
If we ‘abide in Him,' we will NOT ‘abide in sin’! We will NOT remain in sin; we will NOT practice sin; we will NOT live in sin! We CANNOT continue in sin. We simply CANNOT! We have God living within us (His Holy Spirit, Rom.8:9), and sin and purity just do NOT mix! Anyone who continues in sin, has not seen Him, nor has known Him! John is saying whoever keeps on in their sin is NOT God’s child. Very plain! Very clear! Very straight forward! FACT! TRUTH!
Many times we would have fainted unless we had believed; and it was the GREAT SHEPHERD that kept us from fainting.
Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (KJV)
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . . GOD will lead and guide me in the path of righteousness, even though the path sometimes goes through a dark and gloomy valley, through deep, murky places where there is no light, as if death had cast his dark frightening shadow there. We must not fear, for when He leads, it is the right path; it is a path of safety; and it will bring me to bright regions beyond.
I will fear no evil . . . nor the evil one Satan, who is the wolf that comes to the flock to kill and to destroy (Jn.10:12), and the roaring lion that seeks whom he may devour (1 Pet.5:8), since the LORD was his SHEPHERD, and on his side: nor evil men, who kill the body and can do no more (Lk.12:4).
For thou art with me . . . sheep are fearful and timid creatures, and so are the sheep of CHRIST (Jn.10:27-28) . . . but when the SHEPHERD is with them, He revives and comforts them with the His love and His grace, bearing them up and supporting them with His mighty Arm of power. They pass through the dark valley, the deep waters and fiery trials, with courage and joy (Isa.41:10). For thou art with me . . . He is with me; even though His Presence is invisible, He is with me; I shall not go alone; I shall not be alone. Dear one, if GOD is with us, we have absolutely nothing to dread. The LORD will be our Comforter, our Companion, our Protector and our Guide. How perfectly this applies to our death! The dying man may seem to go into the dark valley alone . . . but dear one, the GREAT SHEPHERD never leaves us, never forsakes us! All that we need to drive out the terrors of the valley of death is for us to be able to say, Thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me . . . what is the difference between a rod and a staff? It
seems a rod was that which a shepherd used for guiding his flock, and the staff was that which the shepherd used in walking. The image is that of a shepherd attending to his flock, with a staff on which he leans with one hand; in the other hand the rod which was the symbol of his office. Both the rod and thy staff could be used to guard the flock, or to drive off the enemies of the flock. The crook (staff) is said to have been used to seize the legs of the sheep or goats when they were inclined to run away, and so keep them with the flock. Shepherds always carried a rod or staff with them when they go to care for his flock. It is often bent or hooked at one end, and with this staff he rules and guides the flock to their green pastures, and defends them from their enemies. With it also he corrects them when disobedient, and brings them back when wandering. The rod was not the rod of afflictions and chastisements (Ps.118:18; 119:67), which is what some Jewish and Christian interpreters think . . . even though these are applied in love, and the saints often have much comfort from them; but here, the rod and thy staff are intended for the valley of the shadow of death, the rod of CHRIST'S strength, and the staff of the Promises and the Provisions of GOD'S House. The reference is to the shepherd's crook or staff (Mic.7:14); which was made use of for the telling and numbering of the sheep (Lev.27:32); and it is a tremendous comfort to the sheep of CHRIST (Jn.10:27-28) that they have passed under His rod, who has told them that they are all numbered by Him (Rom.8:1, 51; 1 Jn.5:10-13), for even the very hairs of their head are numbered (Mat.10:30; Lk.12:7); and that they are under His care and protection. The shepherd with his rod, staff, or crook, directs the sheep where to go, pushing forward those that lag behind, and brings back those that go astray; and he also drives away bears, lions and wolves that would make a prey of the flock. Dear one, the Word of GOD, present with the power of CHRIST and His SPIRIT; shepherds us in the path of faith, truth and holiness, and the saints (sheep) should walk in the path of righteousness. The Word of GOD urges and stirs up those that neglect to do their duty, and is the way to reclaim backsliders, and to preserve the flock from the ravenous wolves of false teachers. Dear one, the Presence, power and protection of CHRIST, in and by His Gospel and ordinances, are what is intended here, and which are the comfort and safety of His people, even in the worst of times and circumstances. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me . . . the sight of them comforts me, because it shows that the SHEPHERD is there. His Presence conveys confidence, revealing that He will not leave me alone, and that He will defend me. See: Rods and Staffs, in Special Comments at the end of this Psalm.
*****In the dark valley of the shadow of death, although I could not guide myself, I will not be anxious; I will not be afraid of wandering or of being lost; I will not fear any enemies there, for my SHEPHERD is there to guide me. On the word here rendered shadow of death, the word occurs only in the following places, and in all it is rendered shadow of death: see (Job 3:5;
Job 10:21-22; Job 12:22; Job 16:16; Job 24:17 (twice); Job 28:3; Job 34:22; Job 38:17; Ps.44:19; Ps.107:10, Ps.107:14; Isa.9:2; Jer.2:6; Jer.13:16; Amos 5:8).
Death is a king of terrors, but not to the sheep of CHRIST; they tremble at it no more than sheep do that are appointed for the slaughter. A TRUE child of GOD can meet the messengers of death, and receive its summons with believing security and serenity of mind.
Valley of the shadow of death indicates that death cast his gloomy shadow over that valley . . . the valley of the dead. The word applies to any path of gloom or sadness; any scene of trouble or sorrow; any dark and dangerous way. So, it applies not just to death itself . . . though it holds to that . . . but to any or all the dark, the dangerous, and the murky paths which we walk in life: paths to sadness, solitude and sorrow; but in all those paths GOD is a safe and certain Guide.
There are different shadows of death, or terrible dangers;
(1). Natural: as serious diseases and sicknesses.
(2). Malicious: that which rise up from Satan and from evil people, his instruments.
(3). Spiritual: these dangers are the worst.
These shadows of death, can be great and/or near dangers, and cause people to lose their security, unless we are be able to say, Thou art with me.
Psalm 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (KJV)
Thou preparest a table . . . the image is now changed, but the general idea indicated in Psalm 23:1, stands firm . . . I shall not want. The proof of this in the previous verses is, that our awesome GOD was a SHEPHERD, and a GREAT SHEPHERD at that! And this SHEPHERD would provide for David (and us) as a shepherd does for his flock. The evidence here is that GOD had provided a table (a feast) for David (and us) in the actual presence of his enemies, and had filled his cup with joy. GOD provides for our wants, for what we need in this life. There could be a reference here to some specific period in the life of the psalmist, when he was in need, and when he may have felt an uneasiness that he would perish, and when GOD had without warning provided for those needs. It is impossible to decide to what occasion he refers. There were many times in David’s life which would be well represented . . . as if GOD had provided a meal for him in the presence of his enemies, and because of them.
In the presence of my enemies . . . his enemies seeing and be envious of the outward prosperity of the saints, their happiness in it, and their freedom of worshipping GOD, hearing His Word, with none making them afraid. All GOD’S enemies will see, envy and be distressed when a more glorious state of the church comes in the latter days (Ps.112:8-10; Rev.11:12). As we see in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk.16:19-31), the glory and happiness of the saints in the other world will be seen, by some way or another, by wicked men. When this happens, it will be a tremendous affliction to them, and an aggravation to their present misery, being tormented non-stop in the flames of the lake of fire (Rev.20:15).
Thou anointest my head with oil . . . GOD shall give him (and us) an abundance of good things, not only for necessity, but for pleasure and delight; especially pouring out abundantly upon him the oil of gladness, the SPIRIT of GOD and His wondrous graces (Gal.5:22-23), this anointing teaches all things, and fills us with spiritual joy and comfort. This does NOT refer to the anointing of David with material oil for the kingdom (2 Sam.5:3), while Saul was living, or by the men of Judah, and afterwards by all the tribes of Israel, when Saul was dead (2 Sam.12:7). The reference is to the custom of the eastern countries, at feasts, to anoint the heads of the guests with oil (2 Chron.28:15; Lk.7:46).
My cup runneth over . . . meaning a wealth of temporal good things, especially spiritual ones, which was David's case. Those who are blessed with all spiritual blessings in CHRIST, to whom the grace of the LORD has been far above abundant, for the LORD Himself is the Drink in their cup (Rev.22:1, 17) . . . their cup may be said to indeed run over. The psalmist concludes that GOD would always provide for him, and never leave him to lack anything good.
*****There is enough said here for us to be confident:
(1). Because there is no evil in death to a child of GOD; it cannot separate us from the love of GOD (Rom.8:35-39), and so it can do us no real harm. Yes! Death does kill the body, but it CANNOT touch our soul. Why should we dread death, when it cannot hurt us?
(2). Because GOD'S children have His gracious Presence with them in their dying moments (Heb.13:5); why should they fear?
(3). Because they know when they are absent from the body, they shall be present with the LORD (2 Cor.5:6-8). Why should we fear when death places GOD’S children in Heaven?
See: The Certainty of Death, in Special Comments in Psalm 89.
The GREAT SHEPHERD will not only lead, but also guide His sheep through the dark valley of death, consoling then when they most need comfort. His awesome Presence shall comfort them! Thou art with me. His Presence, His Word and His SPIRIT (Jn.14:16-17) shall comfort them. His rod and staff, referring to the shepherd's crook, or the rod under which the sheep passed when they were counted (Lev.27:32), or the staff with which the shepherds drove away the wolves that would scatter or worry the sheep. It is a comfort to the saints, when it is their turn to die, that GOD is well aware, because He knows those that are His. He will rebuke the enemy, He will guide them with His rod and sustain them with His staff. There is enough in this to comfort the saints when they come to die, for underneath them are the everlasting arms.
From the marvelous gifts of GOD'S bounty come the constancy and perpetuity of His mercy.
(1). GOD has food abundant and convenient, a table spread, a cup filled, meat for his hunger, drink for his thirst.
(2). GOD had carefully and readily provided for him. The table was prepared before him.
(3.) GOD had not withheld, but gives in abundance: My cup runneth over.
(4). GOD not only provided for need, but to delight and enrich. Thou anointest my head with oil. Abundant provision is made for their bodies, for their souls, for the life that now is and for that which is to come. Be wise and accept these spiritual blessings.
Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (KJV)
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me . . . GOD will bestow goodness and mercy upon me. This is the end result of what is stated in the previous verses of this marvelous Psalm. The influence of GOD’S mercy with David had led him to be assured that the Almighty Creator GOD would always be his SHEPHERD and his FRIEND (Jn.15:14); that He would never leave him to want (lack) for anything good (Ps.34:9-10; 84:11; Mat.6:33; Phil.4:19) . . . because the free grace, love, favor and mercy of GOD is abundant in CHRIST, which endures constantly, and is always the same, never changing, from everlasting to everlasting (Ps.41:13. 90:2; 103:17; 106:48). What an awesome GOD we have!!
All the days of my life . . . through any or all life’s changes; in every variance of a condition, until I reach its end. Life on Earth DOES end for one and all, and David does not try to guess when that would be . . . but as long as life would continue, he felt confident that everything that he needed would be given to him. All the days of my life comes from a heart overflowing with joy and gratitude, when he recalls the past, and full of hope in regard to the future. The mercies of GOD are new every morning (Lam.3:22-23), and they continue all day long. Temporal goodness abides with us as long as life lasts, but ends with death; while spiritual blessings are forever, they are the gifts of GOD, which are without repentance (Rom.11:29). GOD never changes His mind about whom He chooses and blesses. The privileges and invitation of GOD given to Israel can never be withdrawn. True Israel: (Gal. Ch.3); also: (Rom.1:16; 2:9-10; 3:29-30; 4:11-12; 8:14-17; 9:24; 10:12-15; 1 Cor.7:19; 12:13; Eph.3:5-19; Col.3:11).
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever . . . this could mean David’s continual attendance of public worship of GOD, of which he had been deprived in times past; or it may mean his being a pillar in the House and Temple of the LORD, that should never go out (Rev.3:12); or it may mean the assurance he had of dwelling in the house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens (2 Cor.5:1). In JESUS’ FATHER'S House, are many mansions (Jn.14:2-3), which are quiet resting places for His people, an inheritance reserved in Heaven for him (1 Pet.1:4) for all eternity. I will dwell in the house of the LORD . . . the house of the LORD (Ps.27:4; 26:8; 16:11; 17:15; 65:4; 73:24-26; 84:4, 10; 87:1, 3; 2 Cor.5:1; Phil.1:23). I think the meaning could be that David foresaw, expected and desired this life, and that his life would be spent in the continual service of GOD. This expresses the desire of a TRUE child of GOD. Dear one, IF you are one of the sheep in the flock of GOD, goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life here on Earth, and you shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever, because Heaven, GOD’S House, where GOD lives, will be your eternal home (Jn.14:2-3). Your inheritance is reserved in Heaven for you (1 Pet.1:4) . . . IF you are one of the sheep in the flock of GOD!
*****David is determined to cleave to GOD and to his duty to Him. As we read the last promise of David to GOD: I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever . . . he will honor and praise GOD as long as he lives. Dear one, we shall dwell in GOD’S house as servants, and we shall be more thatn willing to have our ears bored to the door-post, to serve Him for ever (Ex.21:5-6). If GOD'S goodness to us is like the morning light, which shines more and more to the perfect day (Pro.4:18), we must not let our morning light to Him be like the morning cloud and the early dew that passeth away (Hos.6:4; 13:3). Those that would be satisfied with the fatness of GOD'S house (Job 36:16; Ps.36:8), must stay close to the duties of it. We must serve Him, for when we serve GOD, we honor and praise Him, giving glory to His Holy Name. Serving GOD is NOT a hindrance in any way, it is instead a great honor and a privilege because He allows us to call Him FATHER (1 Jn.3:1-2). WHY do you want to go to Heaven? There would be a multitude of answers to this question. WHY do you want to go to Heaven? The answer should be because you love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Lk.10:27), and you want to do His will, and you willingly desire to serve Him . . . because in the House of the LORD, we shall be His servants! We shall serve Him for eternity! GOD and the LAMB are here spoken of as ONE (John 10:30). Our service there shall not only be freedom, but of honor, and glory. There will be no night; no affliction, no disappointment, no pause in service or enjoyment. We will need no candles or electricity for the LORD GOD shall give us light (Rev.21:23). This will fulfill Zechariah’s prophecy (Zech. 14:9-11). http://godcannotlie.org/zec_ch14.htm
Think about what the Bible tells us we shall do when we get there:
Revelation 7:13-17 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. (KJV)
Rev 22:3-4 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (KJV)
As for now, we must live a life that is pleasing to the LORD. We must love, honor and respect Him, above all things, and we must obey Him. 1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (KJV)
I find Psalm 22 quoted many times in the New Testament, and Psalm 24 once, but I can find no place where Psalm 23 is quoted. The closest place Psalm 23 would be quoted would be in the Gospel of John, Chapter 10.
Psalm 22:1 Mat.27:46; Mark 15:34
Psalm 22:7 Mat.27:39; Mark 15:29; Luke 23:35
Psalm 22:8 Mat.27:43
Psalm 22:18 Mat.27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24
Psalm 22:22 Heb.2:12
Psalm 24:1 1 Cor.10:26
Rods and Staffs
The rod was what the shepherd relied on to safeguard both himself and his flock in danger. And too, it was the tool he used to discipline and correct any wayward sheep that insisted on wandering away. An interesting thought on the word rod . . . the informal term rod has been applied to hand-guns such as pistols and revolvers which cowboys carried for protection. The meaning is about the same as that used in this Psalm.
Another thought in which the rod is used by the shepherd for the welfare of his sheep, was that of discipline. The rod (club) is used for this purpose probably more than any other. If the shepherd saw a sheep wander away or approach poisonous weeds, or getting too close to danger of any kind, the rod would go flying through the air to send the wayward animal running back to the flock. Another use of the rod in the shepherd's hand was to examine and count the sheep. In the Old Testament this was referred to as to pass under the rod (Lev.27:32; Eze.20:37). This not only meant coming under the owner's control and authority, but also to be subject to his most careful examination. A sheep that passed under the rod was one which had been counted and looked over with great care to make sure all was well with it. Because of their long wool it is not always easy to see disease, wounds or defects in sheep.
In caring for his sheep, a good shepherd was a careful manager, and will from time to time make a careful examination of each separate sheep. As each animal comes out of the corral and through the gate, it is stopped by the shepherd's outstretched rod. He opens the fleece with the rod; he runs his skillful hands over the body; he feels for any sign of trouble; he examines the sheep with care to see if all is well. This is a most thorough process involving every detail. It is, too, a comfort to the sheep for only in this way can its hidden problems be found by the shepherd.
Last but not least, the shepherd's rod is an instrument of protection both for himself and his sheep when they are in danger. It is used both as a defense and a deterrent against anything that would attack. The shepherd is experienced in using his rod to drive off predators like coyotes, lions, wolves, cougars or stray dogs, and it is also used to beat the brush to discourage snakes and other creatures from disturbing his flock. In extreme cases, such as David related to Saul (1 Sam.17:34-36), the psalmist no doubt used his rod to attack the lion and the bear that came to raid his flocks.
Now to discuss the shepherd's staff. The staff, more than any other item identifies the shepherd as a shepherd. No one in any other profession carries a shepherd's staff. It is exclusively an instrument used for the care and management of sheep. It is designed, shaped and adapted especially to the needs of sheep. The staff is really a symbol of the compassion that a shepherd has for his sheep. No other word can better describe its role on behalf of the flock than the staff, it is for their comfort. While the rod conveys the idea of authority, discipline, power and defense against danger, the word staff speaks of all that is good, patient and kind.
The shepherd's staff is usually a long, slender stick, often with a crook or hook on one end. In some way, the staff seems to be of special comfort to the shepherd himself. In the harsh treks and in the long weary watches with his sheep, he leans on it for support and strength. It is to him a comfort and help in his job.
There are three areas of managing sheep where the staff plays a very important role. The first is drawing sheep together into a group. The shepherd will use his staff to gently lift a newborn lamb and bring it to its mother if they become separated. He does this because he does not wish to have the ewe reject her offspring if it bears the odor of his hands on it. The staff is used by the shepherd to reach out and catch individual sheep, young or old, and draw them close to him to examine it. The staff is useful this way for the shy and timid sheep normally tend to stay at a distance from the shepherd.
The staff is also used for guiding sheep. A shepherd uses his staff to guide his sheep gently into a new path or through some gate or along dangerous, difficult paths. The staff is not used to beat the sheep, but instead, the tip of the long slender stick is laid gently against the animal's side and the pressure applied guides the sheep in the way the shepherd wants it to go. Being stubborn creatures sheep often get into the most absurd and ridiculous tight spots. Sheep, greedy for just one more mouthful of green grass, climb down steep cliffs where they could easily slip and fall into a canyon or the sea. Only the shepherd's staff could lift them out of the water back onto solid ground.
Sheep can also get stuck fast in tangles of brambles and briers where they had pushed in to find green grass. The multiple thorns get so entangled and hooked in their wool that they cannot pull free on their own, but the use of the staff can free them from their predicament.
Bible References of the Staff
Even today in many parts of the world, shepherds still carry rods and staffs to protect and care for their sheep but the staff has a considerable different meaning and use than the rod. The staff is a symbol of GOD’S authority, where His leaders were identified, as in the case where Aaron’s rod which budded and was a sign to others that GOD had ordained him alone as the high priest (Num.Ch.17). The staff in Moses’ hand took a great part in the plagues given out to Egypt that indicated GOD’S sovereignty over Egypt and that He was working through His servant Moses (Ex. Ch.7-10).
JESUS’ Rod and His Staff
Jesus is called the GREAT SHEPHERD. He defends His sheep with His rod but He brings back the wandering or straying sheep with the shepherd’s staff. The staff has a curved, crooked end that fits the neck of the sheep perfectly and it is a gradual ‘u-shape’, meaning that it can take hold of little lambs as well as the grown sheep, using the same staff. He can defend the flock from the wolves by His rod and He will correct us by His rod when (not if) we need it and He can keep the sheep close to Him by His staff. This is how Micah referred to the staff: Micah 7:14 Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. (KJV)
The Rod and Love
In the covenant that GOD made with David, the LORD said of Solomon: 2 Samuel 7:14-15 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: 15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. (KJV) . . . GOD did not mean that He would beat Solomon with an actual rod, GOD meant He would discipline Solomon when he would need it (and he would need it!). This is really a sign of love because true love = discipline . . . Hebrews 12:6-7 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (KJV) Psalm 94:12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law; (KJV) Psalm 119:75 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. (KJV) Proverbs 3:12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. (KJV)
GOD loves us so that He does not leave us alone to ourselves. He cares enough about us to discipline us with His symbolic rod when we need it. If He did not love us, He would let us wander off like stray sheep over a cliff. His rod protects us from the enemy and He uses His staff to keep us close to Him. Jesus is the GREAT SHEPHERD and He uses both the rod when we need it and the staff when He needs to. The rod and the staff reveal the loving care of GOD the FATHER and the SON of GOD, Who is the GREAT SHEPHERD. Dear one, if the SHEPHERD starts out with one hundred sheep, He will absolutely bring home one hundred sheep . . . so we too can say, as the psalmist said: Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (KJV)
Are Our Days Determined?
The Bible seems to say yes; and they have been numbered even before we were born.
Job 14:1-6 Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. 2 He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. 3 And dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? 4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. 5 Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; 6 Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day. (KJV) . . . His days are determined . . . our days are decided, predestined by GOD, long before we are born. We cannot go one day (not even one hour) beyond the day GOD has appointed for us to live.
Psalm 139:16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (KJV) . . . Not only are the days of our life decided, but even the hairs of your head are all numbered (Mat.10:30).
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Heb.9:27), GOD gives us all a choice . . . we either believe in CHRIST and have eternal life (John 3:16) . . . or reject CHRIST and have His wrath abide on us for all time (John 3:36; 2 Thes.1:8-9; Rev.20:15). The choice is in OUR hands! (Deut.30:15-20). What choice have YOU made?
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