These few verses contain a deep spiritual insight into the relationship possible between a sincere seeker and their loving Creator, a relationship that is often only revealed to those who seek Him with all their hearts. From the “Tehillim”, this is probably the most famous psalm ever written. Every line speaks of the divine care and protection given to those who have embraced this relationship for themselves, yet it is the first five words that are vital if one is to experience such divine favour in one’s own life.
The Lord is my shepherd; He gives me everything I need.
He lets me rest in green pastures.
He leads me to calm water.
He gives me new strength.
He leads me on paths that are right for the good of his name.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, because you are with me.
Your shepherd's rod and staff comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me right in front of my enemies.
You pour oil of blessing on my head; you fill my cup to overflowing.
I am sure that your goodness and love will be with me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
In the original Hebrew the Tetragrammaton, the divine name, too holy to be spoken; therefore speaking not of a guardian angel or a limited spiritual force, but of the One who inhabits eternity, shielded from our view in this world, but who rules supreme in the heavenly realms; the One who fashioned the universe, who designed DNA, whose beauty is glimpsed in a flower and emblazoned across the sky at sunset. Yet the astonishing truth is that this divine presence cares passionately for you and me. Why?
These two words are of key importance for anyone who aspires to that relationship of supernatural love, acceptance and forgiveness. Still today the ancient practice of teshuvah, meaning to repent or turn, is a major step towards this goal. It is only when we acknowledge our self-centredness, lay down our pride, and focus on the One who can breath life into our thirsty souls, that we begin to prepare ourselves for that relationship. Our supreme example comes from Yeshua himself, who humbly laid down his life, but the power lies not in his example, but in what he accomplished as he gave his life on that Roman cross. His action fulfilled a 750 year old prophecy, and confirmed an even older spiritual law that only a truly spotless, holy and righteous person could effectively take our place and pay the price of our forgiveness and pardon. The only one who is that pure and innocent and therefore qualified to take our place, is God our Creator, who stepped down into our dimension some two thousand years ago to willingly lay down his life and set us free. We can only legitimately say that “The Lord is my ..” when we have responded to his offer of forgiveness and new life. At the same time we surrender our bad habits, our selfish thoughts, our guilty conscience to him, and receive by faith the forgiveness that he bought.
Yeshua, who described himself as “the Good Shepherd,” gave this invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” His call is to each one of us individually; no one is beyond his care. Take a moment to sit quietly and invite Yeshua to be with you, recognise his peace, respond to his invitation, admit your failures (or even rebellion), receive his love, invite him* into the driving seat of your life and let him be your shepherd, your guide.
Read the passage for yourself. You can find it in the book of Psalms, in the Bible: Psalm 23.
* For more on the nature of God, see our FAQ's.