“Yahweh* is my shepherd; I will not lack for anything. In grassy pastures he makes me lie down; by quiet waters he leads me. ” – Psalm 23:1-2 (LXEB)
We look today at a very familiar verse from a version that is not so common. Such comfort and truth are packed in this Psalm and it is well worth returning to it over and over again. Living like a sheep can bring you incredible peace of mind! The shepherd in Old Testament times knew his sheep. He knew each one and understood what foods were best for them, what they needed to thrive, and what dangers there were that could harm them. God knows us this way too. In the Gospel of John 10: 11,14 Jesus declares Himself explicitly to be the good shepherd two times. It is by His very nature that our Good Shepherd laid down His life for us. It is a promise from Him. He declares that He knows His own sheep and they know Him. We have a relationship with Him. This gives us reason to have absolute trust in our Good Shepherd and to value the nourishment that comes from more than anything else in our lives or in the world. Jesus did not simply identify as our good shepherd. No. He is by nature our good shepherd and cares for us always.
* The name of God, as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures, is YHWH (the closest English equivalents to the Hebrew letters). Ancient Hebrew did not have vowels, so the exact pronunciation of YHWH is uncertain. The vast majority of Hebrew and Christian scholars believe the name to be Yahweh, pronounced /ˈyä-wā/, with Yehowah, pronounced /yi-ˈhō-və/, being the second most popular possibility.
The Lexham English Bible (LEB) uses the “formal equivalence” method of translation, resulting in a quite literal rendering. Reviewers have gauged the Lexham English Bible as slightly more literal than the New American Standard. The publishers of the LEB have strived to be as transparent as possible in the translation process, providing interlinear versions that keep the Greek and Hebrew words in their original order as well as provide root words and define each word contextually and noncontextually.
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” – John 10:11 (NASB)
“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:15 (NASB
Shepherds worked very difficult jobs. Sheep were important to the lives and the livelihood of sheep owners and an important industry. Finding a good shepherd, one that could be trusted, was not always easy. Here, Jesus declares himself the Good Shepherd. A strict more literal translation is “I am the shepherd, the good one.” A good shepherd would be willing to hazard his all for the sheep. King David was a shepherd who risked his life to protect the sheep from wild predators. A shepherd may, indeed, risk his life in the defense of his sheep (1 Samuel. 17:34–36), but he does not really lay down his life as a voluntary sacrifice. But our Good Shepherd has a different relationship than a hired shepherd. To save His sheep, the Good Shepherd sacrificed his life so that they can live. Jesus doubles this promise and He did lay down His life for the sheep because He knows each intimately by name and they know and follow Him. His sheep know him in the same way as God the Father and God the Son know each other for they are one. Perhaps difficult to understand, it is His promise to us.
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” – Isaiah 40:11 (ESV)
The picture this verse draws for us is first one of God’s omnipotence. The context here is the prophecy of the Jews begin scattered over all the earth. Subsequently, God will overcome their oppressors and gather His people together and care for them. Are we familiar with the picture of our Lord as a shepherd caring for his sheep? It is an image used to show God’s relationship with His followers. We are so glad that He considers us a part of those who can depend on His care every day. As we read this verse today these words are especially impressed on our hearts: “carries them in His bosom” – meaning He carries them close to his heart. These special words remind us of God’s promise and His great love for us. He wants us to feel this and He wants us to respond to His love. Then let us remember that to be held close to the heart of the shepherd made it possible for a lamb to feel the heartbeat of the shepherd. So it is for us. When our Lord carries us close to his heart, we can sense His love for others and for ourselves.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. ” – Psalm 23:1 (ESV)
A very familiar verse we share on this 20th anniversary of a tragic day. It is good for us to remember such horrific events so that we can remember again that we have a caretaker who watches over us. Of the thousands who lost their lives on this day in 2001 we know many were believers in Jesus Christ. Many others were not and that compounds the tragedy for them. Also, many first responders who were there that day and lived through it have had residual health effects. God, our Shepherd know this. Nothing happened or happens today that our God is not aware of. We do have this promise: strictly speaking, Yahweh roh is the beginning phrase of Psalm 23, “the LORD is my shepherd.” It combines the personal name of God, Yahweh, with the descriptive name of God, rohi or ro‘i, meaning, “my Shepherd.” The root word ra‘ah means to feed and tend domestic animals by pasturing them. This name speaks of God caring for His people in practical ways as well as providing spiritual sustenance. God provides and cares for everything we need, thus we can say today, no matter what happens, “I shall not want.”
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. – John 10:11 (ESV)
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. – John 10:14-15 (ESV)
Sheep were very important for those who lived in Israel at the time of Christ and for centuries before Christ. More than a millennium before Jesus Christ, David, a shepherd, wrote “The Lord is My Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1) It was a natural illustration that Jesus used when He said twice “I Am the Good Shepherd,” as recorded in John 10. For Jesus, sheep and the tending of sheep typified His life and purpose. Those listening to Jesus knew about the care required for a flock of sheep. Christ says He is THE good Shepherd. Some were careless in their duty, neglecting their flock when it was in danger and threatened. Bad practices spring from bad principles. The Lord Jesus had no bad principles. He is sure of His own because the chosen have put their trust in Him. This is a demonstration of the grace of Christ. None of us could demand Jesus do what He did when He willingly chose to be our sacrifice. He laid down His life for our redemption and salvation. He offered himself to be our Savior even when we were lost in our sin of rebellion.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:1-3 (ESV)
A familiar Psalm that is often used in time of difficulty, danger, stress, and fear. Many go to it when their hearts are heavy and they are carrying an emotional load. The Psalm has been divided into 6 verses and they are packed with promises and encouragement. It was so natural for David to use this metaphor. He had been a shepherd once and he had cared this way for his sheep. Jesus identified Himself as the ‘Good Shepherd’ that was promised and expected (John 10:4). The writer of Hebrews calls Jesus the ‘Great Shepherd’ (Hebrews 13:20) and Peter writes of Jesus as the ‘Chief Shepherd’ (1 Peter 5:4). David tells us that God, our Shepherd provides all we need fully. God tends to our physical needs for good food and water. Our troubles though sometimes go beyond our physical and emotional needs and actually cause us unrest within our souls. God takes care of us in these needs as well. He knows we need restoration and guidance along the righteous way. He does all this for His name’s sake. He has promised and He keeps every promise He gives us. Holy is His Name.