Psalm 23 was the first Scripture that I memorized at the age of seven. I did not learn it in church, but in the public school system. Every morning we said the pledge to the flag, quoted Psalm 23 and sung hymns. As a youngster I felt safe in school, because I had the assurance that He was with me (vs. 4).
This is likely the most quoted Psalm in the Bible; even by unbelievers (God directs this protection to believers in Him which He calls sheep and refers to unbelievers as goats). How many funeral cards have been adorned by this verse? Psalm 23 is frequently preached at funerals and has been a comfort on the sick beds of untold numbers. How many strolls through the “valley” have been eased by these comforting words?
In vs.1 David informs us Who the Shepherd is-none other than God Almighty. To be a shepherd is not always an easy task. Just ask a teacher, pastor, nursery worker or mother (shepherds in their own right). Sheep are a needy bunch and God has given us plenty of examples in the Bible. Moreover, He has given us examples of how protective shepherds are and the lengths they will go to for one of their flock.
My wife and I were exploring the Wyoming prairie (where the Pony Express rode), when we came upon two shepherds. There in the middle of nowhere was a chuck-wagon (with living quarters for two), horses saddled with rifles in scabbards, binoculars hooked to the saddle horns and cowboys/shepherds armed with pistols. This picture reminded me of God our Shepherd. He is more than capable of protecting us (Ps. 24:8), has the power to back it up (Jn. 10:29) and He watches over us wherever we are (1 Pet. 3:12).
As believers, He longs to protect us from ourselves and worldly trouble. God has provided salvation through the sacrificial offering of His very own Lamb, Jesus Christ. If you have lived on this earth a while, you have had some tough times. The future may have seemed uncertain, but by reading through Scripture we can have hope and perfect peace. These six verses are some of the most comforting and reassuring words of the Bible.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the “shadow” of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (vs. 4). There are plenty of “shadows” in this earthly life, but nobody has to fear a shadow. And besides, God assures us that He is with us. In this present, insane world we need to constantly remind ourselves of Who is in control! I suggest typing this Psalm on a small note paper, taping it to the refrigerator or dashboard of our vehicles and referring to it often (but not while driving-please!).