The Psalmist was not wrong when he declared that the earth and the fullness thereof belong to God (Ps 24:1). This is simply because God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He is “the beginning” in “the beginning” (cf. Gen 1 & 2). However, in the fall and the post-fall world, even to this day of living in the power of the cross and glorious resurrection and ascension, the place of God on earth has continued to be questioned and challenged. This has often been structured in a sense like what some biblical writers have documented thus: “Where is the Lord your God?” (See. Mic 7:10; Ps 42:10; cf. Job 2:9; Matt 11:3 & Luke 7:19). Usually, the question is consequent upon the difficulties, trials, temptations that those who believe in God face in life. Those who believe in God have often answered their “researchers” (mockers) rightly (1 Pet 3:15).
Psalms 23, known as the Psalm of David, can be seen as one of the many responses to the question, “where is the Lord your God?” This study is to ‘whet our appetite’ to travail in the place of prayer and meditation, as God reveals His mysteries to us further in the 23rd Psalm.
The Study of Psalm 23
The study is intended as a highlight of the content, rather than an in-depth study (because of space). The ‘a’ part of verse 1 is considered the first section, while the ‘b’ of verse one to verse 5 will form the second section, and verse 6 will form the third section of the study.
“The Lord is my Shepherd” (23:1a). The statement means and implies:
• The Lord as Shepherd – Ps 28: 9; 78: 52-53; 79:18; 80: 1-2; 95: 7; 100: 3-5; Isa 40: 11; Jer 13: 17; Mic 7: 14.
• The Present God (cf. Ps 46: 1; 34: 18; 145: 18; Heb 13: 8)
• The God with authority (Est 4: 11-5: 2 cf. Heb 4: 16; Matt 10: 18-20; – Mark 10: 42-45; Matt 11: 28-30).
• The God who does not sleep nor slumber (24/7 God). (cf. Ps 121: 4; John 10: 11-16
The Lord who owns (cf. Col 3: 3; Luke 15: 3-7).
• The God that is everywhere (Palace and Wilderness) (cf. Prov 15: 3; Ps 139: 7-12; Jer 23: 23-24; Amos 9: 23; 2 Chr 16: 9; Exod 33: 15-16; Isa 43: 2; Zeph 3: 17; Jos 1: 9; Matt 28: 20).
Section Two (Psalm 23: 1b-5).
In this section, the focus shall be on the benefits that the flock/sheep gets under his Lord and Shepherd:
(i). I shall not be in want (v.1b). (ii). He makes me lie down in green pastures (v.2a)
(iii). He leads me beside quiet waters (v.2b). (iv) He restores my soul (v.3a).
(v). He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (v.3b).
(vi). He casts off fear from me, even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. (v.4a).
(vii). He will be with me and comfort me by His rod and His staff (v.4b)
(viii). He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies (v.5a).
(ix). He anoints my head with oil (v.5b). (x). He fills my cup to overflow (v.5c)
Section Three (Psalm 23: 6 – Living a life of Certainty).
In this section, the Psalmist calls us to a life of certainty and assurance, as we live under the Lord and Shepherd of our lives and souls (1 Pet 2: 25).
(i). Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life (v.6a – cf. Ps 34: 8; 100: 5; 136: 1ff; Jer 29: 11; John 10: 11-16).
(ii). I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (v.6b – cf. Ps 27: 4).
The reality that we live in shows that the problems and worries of life will always come. However, this study points us to the solution whenever people, problems and pains of life question us, saying, “Where is the Lord your God?” Like the Psalmist, who is King David, to everyone one who asks us such question, we should not hesitate to answer them, saying Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”
The Ven. Gershinen Paul Dajur, PhD is the General Secretary, Church of Nigeria.