“The Amazing 23rd Psalm”
David grew up as a shepherd caring for his father’s sheep. I gather that in that role, he had a lot of time to reflect on the nature of God and the characteristics of sheep. It is so interesting that David pictures the LORD as his shepherd and he sees himself as one of God’s sheep.
Comparing oneself to a sheep is not the most flattering comparison, but I do think it is quite honest. In Isaiah 53:6, the prophet wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray.”
Sheep are never described as the brightest of animals. I don’t know that I have ever seen sheep perform in a circus. Animal trainers tell us that it is almost impossible to train them to do tricks. Many of the creatures that God created have a sort of built in means of protection. Porcupines have quills. Skunks have a repulsive scent. Cats have claws. A lion’s teeth are very much a means of protection.
Why are sheep so vulnerable? If they get caught in water, their wool gets soaked. It can actually pull them down and cause them to drown. They don’t have much of a sense of danger. They are not very defensible to poisonous snakes. They lie down only when they are full and may even need someone to turn them over or they can suffocate.
By now, we should see how totally dependent sheep are for the care of the shepherd. I believe that is what David wants us to seek about our dependence upon our Shepherd. I think he also wants us to see that some of the things we say and do are not very bright.
The name that is used in Psalm 23:1 is “Jehovah-Roi” and it means the faithful God who watches over us and cares for us. His is a name that focuses on God’s intimacy with His people. Jehovah highlights our covenant keeping God and is the way He tenderly cares for us. It is a name that describes a function of God. This is what our God does — “The LORD is my shepherd.”
Each of us have certain basic needs and there are other names for God, either used or implied in this Psalm. I find this fascinating and encouraging. For example, in verse 1, the LORD is our shepherd and the name used is Jehovah-Roi.
The good news here is that because the LORD is our shepherd, we shall not be in want. There is no lack with God. The truth here is that God can and will provide for our every need. The implied name here is Jehovah-jireh, “God who provides.” This is the name Abraham used in response to his son’s question, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7) His father replied, “God Himself will provide the lamb…” The name used there is “Jehovah-jireh — God who provides”. (Genesis 22:8, 14)
In Psalm 23:2, David wrote, “He leads me beside quiet waters”. Why is this significant? They will not drink from turbulent waters. The shepherd realizes the importance of peace. Jehovah Shalom is our God of peace who can tame the troubles in our lives. In Judges 6 we read of Gideon who was frustrated by the fact that his people, the Israelites were subjected to the Midianites. God determined to use Gideon who was also fearful.
It is hard for us to accomplish much when we are frustrated and fearful. God appeared to Gideon and introduced Himself as our Peace. In Judges 6:23 the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” In verse 24, we read, “So, Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it, “The LORD IS PEACE”. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. Listen to the promise that is given to us in Isiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” He is Jehovah Shalom — the LORD our Peace.
Also, in Psalm 23:3 we read, “He restores my soul” The implied name God here is Jehovah-Rapha which means the ‘LORD OUR HEALER.’ Listen to the promise God made to Israel in Exodus 15:26 —
“He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all of His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians for I AM THE LORD, who heals you.’”
Our LORD is the healer of sin-sick souls, of diseased and broken bodies and fractured relationships and much more.
In Psalm 23:3, David also wrote of our Shepherd “He leads/guides me in paths of righteousness.” Sheep are prone to wander, if it were not for the dedicated guidance of the faithful Shepherd, they could easily get lost. Have you ever noticed how easy it is for us to wander? We need our Shepherd’s watchful care and guidance. In Jeremiah 23:5-6 we read:
“The days are coming” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which He will be called: “The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”. The implied name used is “Jehovah-Tsidkenu”. Our God is righteous and He loves righteousness. He wants us to be clothed with His righteousness. The Holy Spirit works in us faithfully to help us to be right with God.
Listen to what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:9-10 —
“And he found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death.”
In Psalm 23:4 David wrote, “I will fear no evil.” The reason David was not afraid was due to the presence of the divine Shepherd. He wrote, “For Thou art with me.” Life can be very frightening, so we need courage. The implied name here is Jehovah-Nissi, which means the LORD MY BANNER.
In Exodus 17, we read of the children of Israel at war with the Amalekites at Rephidim. Moses was upon a hill overlooking the battle. As long as he lifted his arms up to God, the Israelites prevailed, but his arms got tired and the battle began to go the other way. Aaron and Hur saw what was happening so they ran and got on either side and held his arms up and Israel won the battle. In verse 15, we read, “Moses built an altar and called it, “The Lord is my BANNER.”
Aren’t you grateful for God’s Banner that constantly flies over us?
There is another implied name that speaks of the presence of God. It is found in Ezekiel 48:35. The prophet gives us the dimensions of the celestial city and we read, “The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on will be ‘THE LORD IS THERE’”.
That name is JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH. Do we realize the LORD is always there or here? In Exodus 3:12, He said to Moses when He charged him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt …” Certainly I will be with thee”. In Matthew 28:20 when Jesus gave the Great Commission, He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the ages.”
The last name we will consider is, “JEHOVA-MEKADDISHKEM’ and it means, “THE LORD WHO SANCTIFIES YOU”. In Psalm 23:5, we read, “Thou anointest my head with oil.” We read in Exodus 31:12-13, then the LORD said to Moses, say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe My Sabbaths. This will be a sign between Me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.’”
Throughout the scriptures oi8l was representative of the person and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He is a sanctifying Spirit working in our lives to make us holy. In Psalm 51:10, David prayed—
“Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
In Acts 10, we read of Peter in the house of Cornelius and he was invited to share about Jesus. In verse 38, we read — “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.”
The Holy Spirit who indwells us is carrying out a sanctifying work in us. It is an on-going progressive work where He is producing the Christ life in us. It is what Peter calls growing in grace and knowledge of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
In closing, I want to mention that each of these names corresponds with a basic need each of us have.
1. We need protection. He is Jehovah-Roi.
2. We need provision. He is Jehovah-Jireh.
3. We need comfort and consolation when we have emotional upsets. He is Jehovah-Shalom.
4. We need healing. He is Jehovah-Raphe.
5. We need righteousness. He is Jehovah-Tsidkenu.
6. We need courage. He is Jehovah-Nissi.
7. We need His Presence. He is Jehovah-Shammah.
8. We need cleansing and sanctifying. He is Jehovah-Mekaddishkem.
Folks, our Shepherd who cares for us and meets all our needs is awesome.
Praise His Name!
Many, Many Thanks —
Joyce and I want to thank you for your many expressions of love as we celebrated our 54th anniversary. Your cards, gifts, hugs and well-wishes were such an encouragement to us. We thank the LORD for you, our church family. You are so important in our lives. May God bless you.
Share the Jubilee Experience —
Do you love our church? I hope it is obvious that I do. Two weeks ago, a brand-new couple came to me and said, “This is wonderful. Everything is so uplifting and your focus on Jesus and God’s Word is powerful. We have found our church home.” Any pastor would love to hear that. If you love Jubilee, I want you to invite others to become a part of our fellowship. The Biblical pattern for evangelism and church growth is people to people. God bless you as you invite others to experience Jesus in Jubilee.