I didn’t have time to tell you something very important. Last time, we were considering Psalm 23.1: The LORD is my Shepherd. We briefly considered the name and character of the LORD. We also thought about the idea of Shepherd in the Bible, especially Jesus as “the good Shepherd.”
What I didn’t tell you was this. A somewhat literal translation of Psalm 23.1 goes like this: Yahweh (is) the shepherd of me. The emphasis is on Yahweh or the LORD as Shepherd. There’s something very important about the word Shepherd that you need to know. The word Shepherd is a participle! That’s right – a participle. In fact, it is an active, present participle! By now, many of you are thinking, “Big deal. I don’t care. And besides, I don’t even know what a participle is.”
Well, a participle is a verbal noun. That is, it is a word describing action (verb) being used as a noun (person, place or thing). The idea conveyed by the participle is that of action, in this case, shepherding. The tense of the verb (present) depicts an ongoing action. And this action is directed towards me.
In other words, the LORD is the one who is shepherding me. Remember from last time: The name of the LORD, Yahweh (or Jehovah), means the living One or the self-existent One – the great I AM. He is the independent One, who depends on no one or no thing and upon whom all else depends. He is the one who created all things and who sustains all things. He is the one who is absolutely sovereign and “does whatever he pleases.” He has all power and authority; he is the sovereign Lord of all!
The rest of the Psalm explains how the LORD is accomplishing this act of shepherding (providing for, protecting and guiding) his people. This is more specifically stated in verses 2 and 3, which speak of the LORD. While in verses 4, 5 and 6, David speaks to the LORD and personally responds to these wonderful concepts.
He (the LORD) makes me lie down in green pastures.
He (the LORD) leads me beside still waters.
He (the LORD) restores my soul.
He (the LORD) leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
You (the LORD) are with me.
Your (the LORD’s) rod and staff comfort me.
You (the LORD) prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You (the LORD) anoint my head with oil.
Reading these actions as a list (notice the participial phrase which emphasizes action) helps me to see the personal benefits and blessings I have as a follower of Jesus. I am reassured of the Lord’s ongoing commitment to me and can see in writing, the loving and benevolent action of the LORD towards me. These actions are not only from me but for each and every sheep (individuals) belonging to the Lord Jesus.
Now, please do me a favor. Do not blow this off! Please, please read this slowly and thank the Lord for being your Shepherd. Think of ways he cares for and provides for you.
Psalm 23, ESV “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.”
The next time we will consider the green pastures and the still waters which the LORD Jesus, our Shepherd, provides for us, his sheep.