As my husband leads us through 1 Samuel, it has been really interesting to read the Psalms that David wrote as they correlate to what he went through during the various season of his life. One Psalm in particular, that seemingly covers a broad spectrum of David’s understanding of the LORD and His intervention in his life, is in Psalm 23:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
I love how this is a mix of exclamation and telling of our Good Shepherd, but also personalized as it switches to talking about God to talking to God, wrapping it up with an exclamatory promise of dwelling with the LORD forever, something that David had been cut off from, worshipping in the temple, when he was being chased by Saul.
The LORD is my Shepherd. This alone is a beautiful statement because it puts us in a place of being the sheep, wholly dependent upon our Shepherd for everything, even the most basic things to keep us alive. This whole chapter explains the details of what this means for us and what it looks like to be a sheep of the LORD, our Jehovah Raah.
Sheep are weak and helpless animals, and they require pretty constant attention and care, otherwise they will die. A shepherd must lead sheep to green pastures to graze and in the morning dew to get plenty of hydration as they graze. The shepherd may have to lead the sheep through tougher paths like a valley, but the shepherd keeps the sheep huddled together near him and keeps them calm. If a sheep gets cast down, in which their feet are up in the air, their blood circulation slows and they will die if left in that position too long, but the shepherd comes and restores the sheep to the proper upright position. The shepherd uses a rod to fight predators and the curved end of the staff to guide wayward sheep and to pull them from places they’ve gotten stuck. The shepherd anoints the heads of his sheep with oil to keep flies away from their noses, because if they get nose flies, the sheep will hit their heads against things and hurt themselves as they attempt to get rid of the flies. Without a shepherd, sheep would die.
In the same way, my fellow lamb in Christ’s flock, your Shepherd – Jehovah Raah – leads you in His word and feeds and waters you with it. He leads you in paths that may be tough, but it is a path of righteousness, and He is with you. You can trust that He will restore and protect your soul and correct you when you go astray. He anoints you with the oil of His Holy Spirit, overflowing with empowerment to walk in His ways, touching others with that overflow of the Spirt. God’s goodness and mercy saved you and will follow you, eventually leading you into the heavenly house of the LORD, in which you will dwell forever.
My dear friend, whether you’re in a season of life where you’re lying down in green pastures or walking through the valley of the shadow of death, the LORD is your Shepherd, He is with you, and He restores your soul.
I wrote the song The Lord is My Shepherd (Jehovah Raah) as an upbeat reminder of these beautiful, comforting, and reassuring truths we read about in Psalm 23. I hope it blesses and encourages you as you walk with your Shepherd today.