Feeling Alone with Nowhere to Turn? The Book of Psalms is a great place to look for comforting words in times of crisis. Continuing on my series, 5 Bible Passages for Times of Crisis, let’s dive into Part 4 and see what God has for us in Psalm 23.
The majority of the book of Psalms can be attributed to David however he was not the only author. Others included Asaph, Korah, who was Moses’ cousin, Solomon, Moses, Ethan the Ezrahite, and (maybe) Heman the Ezrahite. There is also a number of Psalms without an attributable author.
David, the son of Jesse, was a direct descendant of Abraham. Additionally, we can follow Jesus’ earthly lineage back through to David as well. (Matthew 1:1-16) He was the runt of the family — very small in stature and build. David’s job was to take care of and watch over his family’s herd of sheep.
Likely written while being chased and hunted by King Saul, David wrote Psalm 23 based on his familiarity with being a shepherd in his youth. But more importantly, we can infer that David wrote this Psalm based on his recent experiences with God.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (KJV)
The twenty-third Psalm starts off with David proclaiming that the LORD is his Shepherd. His use of shepherd speaks to David’s understanding of God from the Pentateuch.
Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, God is referred to as our Shepherd. Jacob in Genesis 49:24 referred to Him as the “Shepherd, the Rock of Israel”. In Zechariah 13:7 and quoted later by Jesus in Matthew 26:31, the Messiah is referred to as the Shepherd who will be struck. And Jesus refers to Himself as The Good Shepherd in John 10:11,14.
Followers of Christ can take comfort in knowing that God will always protect and provide for His sheep.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (KJV)
David uses rich symbolism in these two verses. Sheep may not be the most intelligent animal in God’s creation; however, whenever Christians are referred to sheep or the flock in the Bible, it is meant in love. Those who have placed their faith in Jesus can relish the fact that He will be leading and guiding their path. He will protect and sustain you. As His follower, you will never be left alone.
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. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (KJV)
Again with the theme of comfort, love, and provision, David writes that no matter what the darkness brings, God is with those who believe. Let’s also pay close attention to the last two phases.
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (KJV)
I may be offbase here but this sounds like the sanctification spoken about in Exodus 30:29. The use of oil is symbolic and means to set apart, to make holy. Not only is God always with those who have placed their faith in Jesus, but He also cleanses and makes us holy.
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. (KJV)
The translation of the Hebrew in the King James Version does not give this verse as much weight as it should. The KJV translation of the original Hebrew word רְדְּפ is “follow“. When you read “follow“, doesn’t it give a sense of a slow and easy pace? Well, it does to me. And picturing God nonchalantly walking behind me is not very encouraging, especially on my most trying days. Follow may have been the old English understanding of the meaning here however I feel a great deal of meaning is missing.
The Hebrew word רְדְּפ (transliterated as radaph) means to pursue, to run after, to chase. WOW! So God is chasing after me? Here is how the Holman Christian Standard Bible presents this verse.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live. (HCSB)
A subtle difference yet still, an important distinction can be made here. God’s goodness and love are not following nonchalantly along our path through life. On the contrary, and think of it this way, His goodness and faithful love are chasing us all the days of our life. He will never leave us.
Wrapping up this week’s blog I wanted to say thank you to my faithful readers. I appreciate each and every one of you. I will leave you with this quote by Maya Angelou, who was an American author, poet, and civil rights activist.
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