He makes me 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.
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort 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
Just as a shepherd provides food, water, and respite to his flocks, God fills the creaturely needs of his children (Ps. 23:1–3; Matt. 6:25–34). As a shepherd leads his sheep down carefully chosen paths, God providentially guides his children (Ps. 23:3; John 16:13). As a shepherd guards his sheep from danger, God protects his children from “evil” and eternal “death” (Ps. 23:4; Luke 1:79).
However, God also does something that no ordinary shepherd can do: he shares a fellowship meal with his sheep (Ps. 23:5; Lev. 7:15–18; 1 Cor. 5:7–8). In the presence of enemies, these table guests are honored by anointing and overwhelmed by extravagance (Ps. 23:5; Eph. 2:7). They receive the “goodness and mercy” which form the core of God’s character (Ps. 23:6; Ex. 34:6–7). As the compassionate character of God is revealed in this precious psalm, we are prepared to see how the steadfast love of the final sacrificial Lamb enables wayward sheep to dwell with a holy God (Isa. 53:6). He was the scapegoat who carried away the sins of God’s people to provide goodness and mercy (Ps. 23:6; Ex. 34:6; Lev. 16:22).
But this Lamb who laid down his life is also the Good Shepherd (John 10:1–18). Recognizing his sheep’s voice, Christ meets our needs, leads us in the way, and protects us from disaster (John 10:5, 10). Listening to the Chief Shepherd’s voice, the believer’s soul is restored. And we will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23:6; cf. 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 22:4).
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible.