Sandwiched between the two mountains described in Psalms 22 and 24 lies the familiar Psalm of the Shepherd, Psalm 23. Many people recognize this psalm, but it is important to note the psalms that precede and follow it.
Psalm 22 gives us the experience of Mount Calvary. Here we read Jesus’ cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In verses 14 – 15 we find a description of the physical agony that He endured, and toward the end of the psalm we see the promise, reiterated in Philippians 2, that the “ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord”.
Psalm 24 speaks to when Christ will be fully recognized as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, so I liken it to the Mount of Olives of the second coming of Christ. Repeatedly, the psalmist tells us to “lift up our heads” as we look toward this glorious time.
Right between these two mountains is the valley of Psalm 23, and this valley is not a bad place to be. While Psalm 23 is often used to provide comfort at the time of death, it is really a description of the valley of life. In this valley is our work, our family, our daily provision, and our walk with God.
This is the place of the abundant life promised by the Good Shepherd in John 10:10.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
The life described in Psalm 23 is also the place of trouble that Jesus warned us of in John 16:33.
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
An overriding truth shines out from the verses in this psalm – GOD IS ENOUGH!
- The Lord is my shepherd – He is relationship.
- I shall not want. – He is provision.
- He makes me lie down in green pastures – He is rest.
- He leads me beside the still waters – He is direction.
- He restores my soul – He is restoration.
- He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake – He is purpose.
- Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil – He is peace
- For Thou art with me – He is companionship.
- Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me – He is protection, and correction, and comfort.
- Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies – He is a present help in trouble.
- Thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runs over – He is comfort and He is abundant joy.
- 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 – He is assurance and hope and my eternal home.
Psalm 23 is the psalm of life – the life of the sheep cared for by the Good Shepherd.
Years ago, Charles Allen wrote a book called God’s Psychiatry. In it he advocated the wisdom of daily reading Psalm 23 to heal our outlook on life. This was not making light of serious mental health issues, but it was saying that God’s word is powerful to restore, to redirect, and to give hope and purpose.
I am not sure what you are facing today, but a few moments in the valley of life with the Good Shepherd might provide some hope and clarity. It does for me.
Photo – Still Water, Beth Mims
modified from a previous post