I love the twenty third Psalm. It is abundantly powerful, while at the same time perfectly peaceful. One reason I love it so is my awareness of being a sheep who desperately needs a shepherd. It is easy for me to identify with the feeling expressed by the prophet Isaiah. “ All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” ((Isaiah 53:6) I need more than a Shepherd to follow; I need a Savior to forgive. In Jesus I find both.
In this psalm David the shepherd becomes a sheep as he begins with: ”The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” In our times of need we rest assured that we have Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He is the One who sacrifices His own life for the sake of His sheep. He promises to never leave or forsake us. In this very psalm we are considering, He promises us His goodness and mercy all the days of our lives. Even when we walk through death’s dark valley, our fear is diminished by knowing that “Thou art with me.”
Recently I spent time with a friend who was only a few days from death. Even after years in the ministry, these times never get easier. He was weak and his voice barely above a whisper. I reminded him of the day he committed his life to Christ, and reassured him of the even greater commitment Christ made to him. Then I had a sudden impression to simply quote Psalm 23. I took his hand, and as I began speaking, his weak voice joined mine as we recited together the precious promises of the psalm. We finished, and there was a peace that surpasses understanding filling that room.
I have recounted just a few of the reasons I deeply love the twenty third Psalm. This psalm reminds us that when in life we cry, “Jesus, for such a time as this, I need you,” we will hear Him say, “For such a time as this, I am here for you.”