According to one Bible app, the most popular verse of 2020 was Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear, for I am with you.” In 2019, it was Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything.” In 2018, it was also Isaiah 41:10, and in 2017, it was Joshua 1:9: “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Clearly, our lives in this fallen world are dominated by fear and worry. Our only genuine source of hope is God. Thankfully, those who follow God have the Lord as our Shepherd. Sheep and shepherds are our topic of Bible study this month. Throughout Scripture, sheep, shepherds, and flocks are mentioned a combined 500 times! In fact, sheep are the most frequently mentioned animals in the Bible.
Psalm 23 encourages us with at least three truths about God as our Shepherd. First, He provides all we need: “I lack nothing” (v. 1). This doesn’t mean our wish list is His agenda. God’s provision for us is based on His wisdom and sovereign purposes. But as His sheep, we can be sure His “goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life” (v. 6).
Second, “He guides me along the right paths” (v. 3). This requires both knowledge of righteousness and practical wisdom to choose it in our daily lives. This is “for his name’s sake”—His glory is always the primary purpose. Finally, God is always with us (v. 4). This is true even and especially in the darkest valleys or circumstances. His presence means we need fear no evil. Many generations of believers have claimed this powerful promise. Notice how the psalmist refers to God directly as “you” here. This truth was very personal for him!
>> Which verse of this psalm best describes your current circumstances? Are you enjoying green pastures? Or, are you in the depths of a dark valley? In either case, rejoice and trust in God’s loving care.