"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." How many times have you heard that quoted? It's one of the few scriptures that have stuck in the minds of many people even outside of the faith. In my experience, Psalm 23 is one of the most commonly quoted passages of scripture, second only to John 3:16. Yet, for how much it's quoted, I rarely hear it discussed. For as beautiful of a passage of scripture as this is, I don't feel like we take the time to discuss it very often. That goes for both newer and older members of the faith. So, I'd like to remedy that.
Psalm 23 is a common source of comfort for many members of the faith. On the surface, it is one of the easier psalms to read and understand. David relates God here to being like a shepherd. God guides David to "lie down in green pastures" and leads him "beside still waters." He even goes as far to say that the Lord guides him through "the valley of the shadow of death" and that He protects David with the shepherd's rod and staff. I don't know about you, but the "valley of the shadow of death" doesn't sound like a place I want to be. Yet David claims here that he has faith that God will protect him and that he has nothing to fear. David shows that his faith gives him strength and comfort in even the most dire of situations, so what do we ever have to be afraid of? With all of this in mind, though, I'm not writing this just to talk about Psalm 23. As with many things in scripture, the thing that makes this psalm so good is the parallel it has with other parts of scripture.
The idea and symbolism of the shepherd is one that can be found all throughout scripture. It's one of (if not the) most common symbols for the Lord used in both the old and new testaments. All of them add onto Psalm 23 incredibly well. However, there is one that I'd like to bring up specifically. John 10:1-18 is one of my personal favorite passages of scripture. Jesus states here that the shepherd knows his sheep, and they know the shepherd. He goes as far as saying the shepherd calls them all by name. Jesus then explains that He is the "good shepherd." He is the door by which sheep enter and are saved. Psalm 23 says that the shepherd protects his flock with his staff and rod. Jesus takes this even further, saying that the good shepherd lays down his own life for the sheep.
So here's the beautiful combined message. The Lord is our shepherd. He is the door by which we enter into the pasture and are saved. He leads us in paths of righteousness. He calls each of us by name, and we know His voice. He guides, guards, and protects us through all of our life's struggles, so that we may never have to fear any evil in life or death. He has laid down his life to save us. I don't know about you, but I couldn't ask more than that from my shepherd. I eagerly await the day when He calls us by name and we get to hear His voice. Do you?
**Ryan Zumpano is a student at Shadyside High School. He is the the Senior Class President and President of the National Honor Society (just to name a couple of things) and will finish 2022 at the top of his class. He plans to attend college and pursue a career in Data Analytics. Ryan attends our church weekly with his family and takes an active role in our services.