Jesus, My Shepherd


What a blessing the twenty-third Psalm has been to millions! I have noted that when I have visited the aged or afflicted saints and asked them if they have a favorite scripture they would like for me to read, they almost always request the twenty-third Psalm. Only Heaven will reveal the comfort the Psalm has been to God’s people through the ages.

The twenty third Psalm is the psalm of life. It follows the twenty-second Psalm which is the Psalm of the cross. It precedes the twenty-fourth Psalm which is the Psalm of glory. It tells me that;

    Beneath me are the green pastures
    Beside me are the still waters
    With me is my Shepherd
    Before me is the table
    Around me are my enemies
    Upon me is God’s anointing
    Behind me are goodness and mercy
    Beyond me is the house of the Lord.

The theme of the Psalm is "I shall not want." I have noted that if there is any word that describes the lost person it is the word "want".

    • Like Bartimaeus – begging for his wants to be met.
    • Like the Prodigal Son in the far country, after he had spent all and came to be in want.
    • Like Belshazzar, weighed in God’s balances and found wanting.
    • Like the rich man in Hell, wanting a drop of water to cool his tongue and wanting someone to warn his brothers to repent.

It is my understanding that the Hebrew word for "want" is the root word for the Hebrew word translated Hell. It is certainly appropriate. Hell will be the land of eternally unsatisfied desires. The child of God can say, "The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want"  in this life and in eternity.

The question arises, "Who can be so bold as to say, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd" for the scriptures read, "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way…" Isaiah 53:6
The answer is found in Luke 19:10. "The son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost" and in John 10:9, "I am the door by me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved…"

He is "my Shepherd" to those who have made Him their Shepherd by faith. What a difference a little pronoun "my" makes for this life and eternity when it refers to the Good Shepherd!


"…for He makes me to lie down in green pastures and leads me beside the still waters."

The Green Pastures and Still Waters

We need green pastures and cool waters for nourishment and refreshment. This provides the strength to walk in the paths of righteousness.

It is very important that we walk in paths of righteousness, but we cannot continue in those paths without the nutrition provided by the green pastures and cool waters. We need a regular diet of prayer, Bible reading, teaching, preaching and fellowship.

The Divine Constraint – "He maketh me…"

If I refuse to lie down in the green pastures and walk by the quiet waters or even become too negligent to do, Christ will make me.

A Syrian shepherd had a young sheep with a broken leg. A traveler asked, "How did he break it?" The shepherd answered, "I broke it. He kept going astray and was in danger of getting lost and devoured by wild beasts. Now, he cannot go astray. He is totally dependent on me for food and water. When the leg heals, he will never go astray again."

A deacon began to be prosperous. He dropped the family altar time. Then he dropped Bible reading and prayer and even began to miss church services. In time his daughter died. As he stood weeping at the grave he told his preacher, "God is making me lie down in the green pastures again."

When He makes us lie down, it is for our own rest, refreshment and renewal.


"He restoreth my soul, He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake." Verse 3

Jesus Restores His Sheep

The Shepherd searched for the one lost sheep "until He found it. "Luke 15:4. The world and the Devil would lead us astray. Sad to say our fallen fleshly nature is prone to go astray. Romans 7:18.

When and if one of the Lord’s sheep goes astray He does not rest until that sheep is safely back in the sheepfold once again.

Jesus Leads Us In The Paths of Righteousness.

He certainly does not lead us in the paths of sin. "If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. 1st John 1:6.

It would seem that the path that leads to Heaven and the path that leads to Hell are going in opposite directions. Those who are walking the road of darkness that terminates in destruction should seriously question their relationship to the Savior.

He leads us in paths of righteousness "for His name’s sake." A lawyer does not want to lose a case for his name’s sake. A doctor does not want to lose a patient for his name’s sake. Jesus does not lead His sheep in paths of sin but in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake.

"He leadeth. . ." He never asks us to go where He has not gone. "…a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…"’ - Isaiah 53:3 "tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin…" Hebrews 4:16. Wherever our Shepherd leads we can rest assured that He has gone before.


"Yes, though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil…"

The Valley of Danger

It was necessary for a shepherd to lead his sheep through ravines and canyons where wild beasts lurked. The sheep had poor eyesight and were unable to see the location of the wild beasts. The sheep did, however, have excellent senses of hearing and smell and knew when wild beasts were near. The shepherd who was able to protect them was a source of great comfort to the sheep.  Being one of the Lord’s sheep does not exempt us from walking through the valleys of danger in this life. However, all we need to comfort us is to be close enough to our Shepherd that we are always aware of His presence.

The Valley of Death

This is a valley through which all must walk if the Lord tarries. There is no detour around it. "…it is appointed unto man once to die…" Hebrews 9:27

It is a lonely path to walk alone. The son of atheist parents was dying. The son said, "It’s so dark and I’m afraid." The atheist father counseled, "When the time comes, just hold on and take that last step into the dark." The son cried, "Dad, there’s nothing to hold on to."

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, does not lead us into the valley of death and leave us there. He leads us through to the other side. The Christian can face physical death with calmness and assurance because of the personal presence of the Shepherd and His ability to defeat any foes.


"Thou preparest a table before me…"

A Table Prepared By Our Heavenly Shepherd

He prepared fish for the disciples in Galilee.
The discerning Christian knows that they live every day from His hand to their mouth.
The greatest banquet of all awaits at the marriage supper of the Lamb

He Anoints Our Head With Oil.

This is His divine authorization for whatever task He has for us. It is also His divine enablement that empowers us to accomplish that task.

Our Cup Runs Over.

Our Shepherd gives everlasting life (John 3:16). Our Shepherd also gives abundant life. (John 10:10b). Our cup does not run over for our personal consumption or waste but for the blessing of others. In our Father’s house there is plenty and to spare and we are to share it with others.

Goodness and Mercy Follow Us All The Days of Our Life.

Goodness to gather up the good things that will bring us reward and mercy to blot out our failures that cause shame.

"I Shall Dwell In The House of The Lord Forever."

Like the Apostle Paul we need not doubt. "…for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." ( 2ND Timothy 1:12b). When we say that a Christian has died we could not be further from the truth. They are more alive than ever dwelling in the House of the Lord.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

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