Psalm 23I normally do not post back to back blogs due to time constraints – but this classic psalm is just too good to pass up!  Although only 6 verses long, Psalm 23 is probably the most recognizable and oft-quoted psalm in the Bible.  As we shall see – it is packed with Promises for the Believer – and contrary to popular use, it is far from a psalm about death!

Most of the time Psalm 23 is quoted during funerals.  This is due to misunderstanding among a large portion of our church population regarding the theme of this psalm.  While it does mention death and the ultimate victory for God’s people – the main ingredient of Psalm 23 is LIFE!  Correctly referred to as the “John 10 of the Old Testament”, this psalm provides (in beautiful poetic imagery), the experience of the abundant life that is provided the sheep by the coming Messiah.  While John 10 speaks after the fact – Psalm 23 is looking forward to the day when He will come as our Shepherd!

Right out of the gate we are told that, for God’s true people, the Lord is Shepherd; and one of the benefits to having Him as our Shepherd is that we will not want for anything.  (The Amplified Bible says “I shall not lack”).  Despite what religion has tried to infuse into people – the Word of God is loaded with Promises from God to not only supply our needs – but also our wants.  (A few examples are:  Psalm 84:11; Matt 21:22; John 15:7; James 1:5-8).

As for the use of this Psalm during funerals – one can quickly peruse these 6 verses to see that they are speaking of life in the here and now!

                “He makes me to lie down…” (vs 2) – NOT DEAD!

                “…though I walk through the valley… of death…”  (vs 4) – NOT STAYING!

                “table prepared in the presence of mine enemies…” (vs 5) – NO ENEMIES AFTER I’M DEAD!

                “… goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my LIFE…” (vs 6)

The real point of what David is saying in Psalm 23 is all directed toward our lives here on earth.  He is emphatically singing praises to His Lord for all of the Blessings that will accompany those who faithfully serve the Shepherd as sheep. (Deut 28:2).

Finis Jennings Dake lists 14 Blessings for the sheep as outlined in Psalm 23:

1.           1.   The Lord as their Shepherd. (v 1)

2.           2.   No want or lack. (v 1)

3.           3.   Rest in choice green pastures. (v 2)

4.           4.   Guidance to still, deep waters of rest and refreshing. (v 2)

5.            5.  Restoration of soul. (v 3)

6.            6.  Guidance in paths of right for His name’s sake, which gives no cause for stumbling, falling or going astray. (v 3)

7.            7.   Safe passage through the valley of the shadow of death – the deep, waterless, gloomy, wild, beast-infested, rocky, dangerous death-lurking ravine so common in Palestine. (v 4)

8.             8.  No fear of evil because of the Shepherd’s constant companionship, watch, and protection. (v 4)

9.             9.   The comfort of the Shepherd’s rod and staff (club and crook, the only two things carried by shepherds for defense and help – the club for the sheep’s enemies and the crook for the sheep’s protection).  (v 4

                   10.  Prepared and full tables of food to feast on in the presence of enemies. (v 5)  They feast in safety while the Shepherd watches, fights and protects.

           11. Heads anointed with perfumed oil.  (v 5)  This preceded feast of ancient times.

                    12.  Cups running over. (v 5)  Not only plenty of food, but plenty of wholesome drink.

                    13.  Confidence that such goodness and mercy will follow them to the end of life.  (v 6)

                     14.  Faith that in the next life they will dwell in God’s house forever.  (v 6)

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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