The Shepherd of Psalm 23 Leads Us—and Dies for Us

The Good Shepherd

Psalm 23 is arguably one of the most well-known and most beloved passages in all of Scripture, and so it’s familiar to a lot of people. David, who was a shepherd himself and was a boy from Bethlehem who would go on to be the king of Israel, he says certain things in it.

We all know the opening: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

What David does in Psalm 23 is he describes who the Lord is. He starts off talking about him by saying, “The Lord is my shepherd.” This later turns into “you prepare a table before me . . . you anoint my head with oil . . . and my cup overflows.”

Behold and Believe

Courtney Doctor, Joanna Kimbrel

This 7-week Bible study from the Gospel Coalition explores the question Who is Jesus? by walking through his 7 “I am” statements in the Gospel of John.

And then he goes on to say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” So David is talking about the Lord.

But when we get to John 10, Jesus comes on the scene and Jesus says, I am the good shepherd. I am the one that David was talking about. I am the one who is going to lead you on paths of righteousness and lead you to green pastures.

In fact, in John 10 Jesus actually says that as the good shepherd, he will lead his sheep out to the abundance of good pastures and good places.

Because of the good shepherd, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

But the difference between the shepherd in Psalm 23 and John 10 is that in Psalm 23, the shepherd leads his sheep—he led David—through the valley of the shadow of death, and David could fear no evil because the shepherd was leading him. But when we get to John 10, what Jesus says about himself is, “I will lay down my life for the sheep.”

So what happens with the good shepherd is he’s the one who doesn’t just walk through the valley of the shadow of death; he actually walks through death itself so that the sheep can now walk through and fear no evil, because surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life. And because of the good shepherd, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Courtney Doctor is coauthor with Joanna Kimbrel of Behold and Believe: A Bible Study on the “I Am” Statements of Jesus.

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