You can learn a lot about a person by the company that he or she keeps. That is, those with whom you associate speak volumes about who you are. This is not only true of people but also of words. For instance, I looked up a word in the dictionary – crook. Several definitions were offered. The first was: the bent staff of a shepherd. This was followed by several specialized usages. The second major definition was also familiar to me – a criminal or dishonest person. There was even an Australian definition – bad or unpleasant. So the word crook could have a number of different nuances, depending upon how it is used and this can be discerned only by understanding the words around it.
The song or Psalm of the Crook is actually Psalm 23. It will not surprise you to know that it is located between Psalm 22 in Psalm 24! Psalm 22 is often called the Song of the Cross. While Psalm 24 is referred to as the Psalm of the Crown. Followers of Jesus understand the progression: suffering/atonement, shepherding/sanctification, and coronation/glorification.
Consider Psalm 23: “A Psalm of David. 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. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
It is significant that Jesus himself uses the imagery of this Psalm and applies it to himself. John 10 quotes Jesus: “I am the good shepherd…” So the song tells us about Jesus and our relationship to him. Psalm 23 speaks of the Lord in terms of a shepherd. The term used here is not so much of the title as it is a description of the continuous activity of the Lord. The idea is that the Lord Jesus is the one who is shepherding me.
This Psalm can be profitably read in various ways. It is instruction from the Lord; it can be a confession of what we believe concerning the Lord. It could be an affirmation or an encouragement of our faith in the Lord. Some have suggested that it could almost be a confession of our faith and others a minstrel to be song on life’s journey, giving witness to the grace of God.
You might want to try it in a variety of circumstances. I frequently recite it from memory as I go to sleep or as an encouragement when I encounter trying situations. I use a Psalm like this in its entirety and also consider its individual words and phrases. God often uses the words of the song to reassure me and remind me that I am not alone but that he is with me.
This is a song written by David, King of Israel and “the man after God’s own heart.” The Bible does not show the life of David as tranquil and placid, but rather filled with struggle and turmoil. The Bible also informs us of David’s early years when he was a shepherd before God called him to be king. It seems that David never forgot where he came from or how he became king. Perhaps David wrote this song to be used as a reminder of his roots – to lift his eyes to look upon His Shepherd.
So let us lift our eyes to our Shepherd and resist focusing on the circumstances. If we begin to focus too much on our problems and troubles, they become so large that we cannot see our Lord. But if we look upon our Lord, he becomes so glorious that we are not overcome by our circumstances – We see the Lord, caring for us and shepherding us through them.