Psalms For our troubled land 

Psalms For Our Troubled Land – Psalm 23

by The Rev. Ross Anderson

No doubt the psalmist was thinking back to the exodus from Egypt when God “brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the desert” (Psalm 78:52). But we immediately notice the psalmist claims that the Lord “is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). We can’t read this psalm without immediately thinking of Jesus who is the good shepherd, the chief shepherd, the great shepherd of his sheep (John 10, 1 Peter 5, Hebrews 13). The good shepherd cares for his sheep. Even when we walk through the darkest valley (v4), whether that be COVID, a failed state, or even death, we have nothing to fear and we will not fear, because our shepherd is with us. He protects us with his club and guides us with his staff (v4). Our security does not lie in our environment – whether green pastures (v2) or the deepest valley (v4) – but in our shepherd. In his presence there is no fear (v4).

2. THE LORD IS MY HOST (vv5-6)
This is the second picture of God’s intimate relationship with his people – the host and his guest. The psalmist now sees himself as a guest at a banquet (v5), and notice the context! He is a guest at the divine host’s banquet, even “in the presence of my enemies”! And we should remember that our enemy is not people, certainly not fellow South Africans, but the world, the flesh and the devil (Ephesians 2:1-3). And Jesus, by his death and resurrection, has overcome the devil (Genesis 3:15; Mark 3:27; Colossians 2:15). Not only so, but in these tumultuous and uncertain times he goes before us and behind us; he leads us (vv2-3) and his goodness and love follow us (v6). And this he will do every day of our lives (v6).

Finally, the psalmist reminds us, “we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (v6). No, not the tabernacle. No, not the temple. No, not a church building. But in the Father’s house (John 14), in the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1-5). Meanwhile, in the midst of a sinful and broken world (country) riddled with unrighteousness, we must “walk in the paths of righteousness” (v3), loving and serving our neighbour. For his name’s sake (v3).

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

  1. The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
  2. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
  3. he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
  4. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
  6. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.