The dictionary defines comfort as “to soothe, console, or reassure; bring cheer, to aid; support.” The greatest comfort we ever can receive is from the Bible, God’s Word. The best-known verse in the Bible is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The best-known Bible passage is Psalm 23:1–6, “1 [A Psalm of David.] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 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. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
It’s interesting to note that these best-known scriptures tell us about God’s love and care for us. John 3:16 emphasizes eternal life that God provides for us, and Psalm 23 emphasizes God’s provision for our everyday life, which ends with those who have accepted Christ as Savior having everlasting life. Psalm 23 speaks about God as the shepherd and His tender love and care for His sheep—they belong to Him. As we read the six verses of Psalm 23, we discover specific qualities of the Lord, our wonderful shepherd. He is the PRESENT shepherd, the PERSONAL shepherd, the PROVIDING shepherd, the PRESIDING shepherd, the PROTECTING shepherd, and the PERPETUAL shepherd.
Psalm 23 was written about 3,000 years ago by King David of Israel, and it has comforted and strengthened people throughout the world that whole time! David used his own experience as a shepherd in his love and care for the sheep as he equates this to God’s love and care for him, and this is why he states that the Lord is his shepherd.
In ministering to people, we need to let them know that God loves and cares for them. God provides for our everyday life as well as our eternal life, as we see in Psalm 23.
Psalm 23 teaches us about the shepherd and his sheep. A shepherd is a person who herds, tends, and guards sheep. The term also describes a person who protects, guides, or watches over a person or group of people.
David mentions first of all that the Lord is his PRESENT shepherd: Psalm 23:1a, “The LORD is my shepherd.” The idea is that the Lord is continually shepherding each person who has placed his or her faith in Christ. That is, God himself presides over us, He provides for us, and He protects us. In other words, God meets our needs—whatever they are.
David also says that the Lord is his PERSONAL shepherd by stating He “is my shepherd.” David is comforted by the fact that God is his shepherd and that he, David, is one of God’s own sheep. Jesus used this analogy in the New Testament when He said in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”
David then states that the Lord is his PROVIDING shepherd. In verse 2, we see how God provides for David physically: “2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” David emphasizes the truth that God meets his physical needs. The phrase “I shall not want” refers to the idea that each believer’s needs will be met. That is, each person’s basic necessities will be provided for by our shepherd, the Lord.
In verse 3, we see how God is David’s PRESIDING shepherd. That is, God is meeting David’s needs spiritually: “3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” God himself encourages David and guides him to do what is right. God does this by His Word, as we read in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” and Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
Next, David states that the Lord is his PROTECTING shepherd. In Psalm 23:4–5 David says, “4 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. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” David exudes extreme confidence in the Lord because as his shepherd, God is always with him in every situation in life no matter what he faces or encounters. This includes being very close to death or even experiencing death itself. David knows God is with him, and He loves, cares, watches over, and protects him. As a shepherd himself, David protected his sheep and that is what God does for His sheep!
Wow! What a comfort it is to know that God is with His sheep at all times and amid every situation in life, no matter what we may face! Whatever trials come our way, whether they be physical, emotional, social, financial, or spiritual, God will help us as we battle through them. We need not fear them!
David concludes in verse 6 that the Lord is his PERPETUAL shepherd. That is, He will be with him for eternity. In Psalm 23:6 David proclaims, ” Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
Notice how God’s goodness and mercy will accompany David his whole life on earth. That means God’s grace (His giving to us good things that we don’t deserve) and God’s mercy (His holding back judgment that we do deserve) will be our experience throughout our lifetime. David does not stop with just this life on earth, however; he speaks about being with God himself forever!
We have seen how David speaks about the Lord being his PRESENT shepherd, his PERSONAL shepherd, his PROVIDING shepherd, his PROTECTING shepherd, his PRESIDING shepherd and his PERPETUAL shepherd.
May I ask you, Is the Lord your shepherd? How can you have the Lord as your shepherd? The way is simply this: Believe and then receive in your own heart and life the promise found in John 3:16. ADMIT that you are a sinner; BELIEVE that God loved you by sending Jesus, His Son, to die for your sins and rise again; CALL on God by asking Jesus to come into your heart and life and be your Lord and Savior. Jesus said in John 6:37b that whoever comes to Him He will never cast out.
Once you come to Christ and accept His salvation, then you can say along with David, “The Lord is my shepherd” and you will experience what David did! The Lord will be with you throughout your life on earth and for eternity in heaven. What a marvelous comfort!
Article by Pastor Ron Coulton