Everyone loves Psalm 23, you see and hear it quoted everywhere. There are different Psalms people love for different reasons but this one seems to stand out among them all.
It tells us a lot about God but also tells us a lot about ourselves. These are affirmations, they tell us where we want to go in life. It’s like a picture of the ideal man, the ideal woman, how we should think and why we should think that way. It’s like our favorite song, that we play over and over and never tire of. Psalm 23 is like that.
The way we see ourselves often forms how we act, the things we do. The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. There is an image portrayed there. That’s a starting point for reshaping who I should be, who I want to be.
It’s like someone trying to quit smoking. When offered a cigarette they may say "no thanks I’m trying to quit", or, if they see themselves as the outcome they want, they may say, "no, I don’t smoke." Psalm 23 presents a similar picture, it shapes the things we tell us ourselves about the outcome we want.
So what does Psalm 23 tell us about what we should think?
I am content. Vs 1. We may still want things but we want to see ourselves as someone who is content. The Lord is our shepherd, He leads us in the right path.
I will live with confidence. V4. This Psalm follows a wonderful story line. The first part deals with trust, with faith. That’s important for when we walk through the valley of death. I am a child of God, I will live with confidence. Affirmations are things we write down and read regularly, say aloud. An outcome pointed goal would be I want to lose weight. So then I look at how I can do that with the end result being I am healthy. That is backwards. What we should be doing is saying I am healthy and then we eat and act accordingly because we already see ourselves as healthy. I am a godly person is an affirmation we can make. So then, what do I need to do to make me a godly person, what habits, what actions do i need to take? Even though I walk through the valley of death.... the Lord is my shepherd. I will fear no evil. That has nothing to do with me, it is because the Lord is with me, I am not going into this alone. Whatever tension there is in our life, we can have confidence in God, He is with us, that is where David is going next. David always re-centers to God. Even in the midst of horrible sin, he comes back to God. Even in front of a terrifying enemy, he comes back to God.
Why? The Shepherd provides :
This is why we can have contentment and confidence. It is because of what the Shepherd provides.
I shall not want is empty without the first part, the Lord is my Shepherd.
The sheep follow Him wherever they go because they know He has their best interests at heart. We may not always understand what is going on around us, but we are content because we have confidence in God.
And then in the end, there is the victory... you prepare the table before me, you anoint my head with oil..... victory in Jesus. There is a place of comfort and restoration and blessing in spite of the chaos all around us. It’s not all about what happens here but also to prepare us for the life to come.
Psalm 23 is an affirmation for the way we want to see life. We can live with contentment, we can live with confidence because we have the Lord's guidance, His protection and His assurance.