The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), May 8
David has spent his youth tending sheep (one of the oldest professions of man—Gen. 4:2). His knowledge of the needs of sheep and the importance of good shepherding are therefore foundational to his leadership as Israel’s king and to his understanding of who God is for His people. David did for his flock on a small scale what he does for Israel as their king. He merely reflects who God is for His people—their Shepherd.
Psalm 23 captures God’s shepherd heart with His people and the people’s need for such a Shepherd.
The character of the Shepherd—His heart is bound to care for His people. Genesis 1-2 reveals God’s good heart toward those who bear His image. Chapter 3 reveals His shepherd heart as He pursues the man and the woman hiding in shame. He not only provides a covering for their nakedness (at the cost of an innocent animal), He promises them a Seed who will crush the serpent’s head. He will tend the events of history like a garden until the time arrives to incarnate His Seed in the womb of a virgin. His flock shall not want.
Jesus describes the difference between the good shepherd and the hireling, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (Jn. 10:10-14).
- The care of the Shepherd – His resources are their provision. Again, Genesis 1-2 must be revisited to understand that God anticipated and fully met man’s needs in the garden of Eden—in provision and redemption. David relied upon this truth and was confident that God’s agenda for him included green pastures and quiet waters, just as his agenda had been for his own flock.
- The companionship of the Shepherd – His presence is their comfort during hard times, “For You are with me” (23:5). To have God’s presence is to have His protection.
- The correction of the Shepherd – His discipline is for their good, “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (23:4). Because God is good, a rod and a staff in His hand only do good; therefore, discipline from the Shepherd’s hand is good.
The confidence of the flock – The Shepherd’s benevolence is the flock’s blessing, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (23:5). David handled the bears and wolves that threatened his flock, demonstrating that enemies are not the flock’s problem, but the shepherd’s. With God as his Shepherd, David was also certain of God’s covenant faithfulness, “Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live” (23:6).
David’s experience as a shepherd taught him that to have God as one’s Shepherd is to have all that He is.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Psalms 22-26):
A number of David’s psalms foretell of the Messiah. What does Psalm 22 reveal about Israel’s Messiah?
What characteristics are identifiable in the psalms from today’s reading that enable David to walk with the LORD and also make David a successful king?