By Caleb Faires
Theologian and preacher Charles Spurgeon declared Psalm 23 to be David’s “unrivalled pastoral,” explaining, “its sweetness and its spirituality are unsurpassed.” Indeed, this is a psalm for both heights and depths. Whether we walk by quiet waters or in the darkest valley, our Shepherd provides for our every need. He leads us to places of rest and provision. Though we pass through danger, we have the security of eternal dwelling in the Lord’s house. We can enjoy the sweetness of His guidance as He renews our life, even in the presence of our foes.
As I pray through this psalm, I am struck by how immediately Christ is revealed. From beginning to end, the comfort offered in this psalm is Christ Himself. “I am the good shepherd,” He says. “I know my own, and my own know me” (John 10:14). He is not only the Shepherd but by my Shepherd, our Shepherd. He knows us intimately, and we, the sheep of His pasture, know Him (Psalm 95:7). This is the chief comfort—that He is mine and I am His. All the securities and comforts of life flow from this intimacy. Apart from this intimacy, there is no true comfort. The Shepherd protects His own.
Because of this intimacy, “I have what I need” (Psalm 23:1). I lack nothing because God is my everything, and in Him all needs are met. At the forefront of His provision is His leading. He does not send us out alone, unprotected, but He goes before us. He is the Shepherd, our elder brother, our example, our advocate, our intercessor, our guide, our shield, our light.
Yes, He even goes before us in the valley of the shadow of death and in the presence of our enemies. During His crucifixion, Jesus quoted the preceding chapter, Psalm 22, while bearing the agonies of the cross on our behalf. Where we go, He has already gone; He is no stranger to the path He takes us on. He has passed through the dark valley and leads us onward, to quiet waters that run deep, to green pastures where He makes us lie down in peace (Psalm 23:2).
As we pray this psalm, we remember that God’s comforts are not only for the here-and-now but for all eternity. Indeed, the apostle Peter reminds us, “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1Peter 5:4). My cup overflows with the comforts of Christ. The Lord is my Shepherd. Thanks be to God.