“The Lord is my Shepherd ….”
Psalm 23:1a (NKJV)
The more I read the Bible the more amazed I am at its content and construction. Consider the Shepherd work of Christ, for example. We’ve been talking about that for the past few days. We found various passages in the New Testament that revealed the Shepherd work of Christ in three unique ways. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep. He is the Great Shepherd who rose again and lives for His sheep, and He is the Chief Shepherd who is coming again for His Sheep. The Shepherd work of Christ covers our past sins in His death, our present needs through His resurrection life indwelling us and our future in His promised return to establish His kingdom where we will rule and reign with Him for all eternity! This teaching on the completeness of His Shepherd work is also revealed in the construction of Psalms 22, 23 and 24.
Psalm 22 opens with the very words our Good Shepherd said from the cross. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” I call this psalm the Psalm of the Savior. It forecasts His death on the cross in unquestionable detail centuries before it occurred. This psalm describes what took place on Mount Calvary, a hill just outside the city walls of ancient Jerusalem where the crucifixion of Jesus Christ took place according to the Bible. Psalm 24 takes place on another mountain called Mount Zion and asks the question “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place?” Psalms 24:3 (NKJV) I call this psalm the Psalm of the Sovereign. Twice the psalmists repeats this phrase, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.” (Vs. 9, 10) The Sovereign Lord is the Chief Shepherd who is coming again to rule and reign from His holy mountain in Jerusalem.
But, between Mount Calvary where our Savior died and Mount Zion where one day He will return and reign as the King of glory we live in a valley described in the 23rd Psalm. The psalmist calls it “the valley of the shadow of death.” It’s in this valley that we need a Great Shepherd to lead us, protect us and provide for us. Psalm 23 is the Psalm of the Shepherd. Jesus is the Great Shepherd who, risen from the dead, now comes alongside us and dwells within us by His Spirit to restore our souls. How amazing that even in its construction the Bible gives us a progressive revelation of His Shepherd work in our lives! Tomorrow we will look at how we get through that valley.