Both of these psalms contain cries for help and trust in God in the midst of trouble and are traditionally associated with Absalom's rebellion.
When the crisis with Absalom came about, David's counselors told him to flee Jerusalem. David alludes to this in Psalm 3:2 and 4:6 from our reading yesterday. In this Psalm, David holds fast to his faith and encourages us to look up to the One who is seated on His throne. He has got it all covered. If only we could see foundation shaking current events from His perspective!
If you have not followed through on the application from a few days ago and want to have a perspective of faith rather than fear on today's current events, I strongly encourage you to listen to these two messages:
Serve to Win: Part 1
The Other Side of Fear: Part 2
Psalm 23 is like an old and dear friend. :) Even growing up in a non-believing home, I knew this psalm. It was usually read at funerals. I am not sure if it still is today. I am not sure a young person from a non-believing background would know it though.
David wrote about God as a shepherd because he could speak from his own personal experience as one (2 Samuel 16:10, 11). Also, in the ancient Near East, kings compared themselves to shepherds of the people. Sheep are pretty dumb and helpless, and they need a shepherd for everything! So do we. :)
In this psalm we see that God nourishes, restores, guides, protects, and provides.
Here are a few definitions for you:
- quiet waters = waters of rest
- paths of righteousness = a well-worn way that is God's way
- for His name's sake = God guides and cares for the people of God because His reputation is at stake
- rod and staff = shepherd's equipment for protection of the sheep in every situation
- anointed the head with oil = In the ancient Near East, it was customary to anoint a guest with fragrant oil. Some commentators think this is the shepherd who applied soothing oil to bruised, injured, or sick sheep.
- cup overflows = lot in life was abundantly blessed
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
Jesus refers to Himself as the good shepherd (John 10:11), the writer of Hebrews refers to Jesus as the great Shepherd (13:20-21), and Peter calls Him the Chief Shepherd (1 Peters 5:4).
This psalm gives me goosebumps. It hearkens back to a time of extreme loneliness, stress, fear, and exhaustion my first time overseas. I was not pleasing the people I went there to serve, and I felt very much unloved. I had nowhere to turn but to the Lord, and He met me in this psalm.
I have special memories of God taking me out to a pastoral setting in Santiago de Compostela to bring rest to my weary soul. He ministered to me in that place, and I wrote music to a poem I used to read to the children I cared for there (see post for Psalm 8 for more on the poems I would read) .
(I sang Psalm 23 when I was 23 years old! The words in the book are backwards, and I do not know why.)
Pray responsively through Psalm 23 today imagining yourself in the scene!