The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
By the use of the imagery of a shepherd and his flock of sheep, David describes the care and the comfort which one of God’s sheep has in Him. He begins by describing the comfort and care of His Lord for him in life. He sums all of God’s care up in one phrase, “I shall not want.” There is no good thing that he lacks, for his shepherd cares for all of his needs.
In the agricultural imagery of his day, David describes the ways in which his Shepherd cares for him.
- He Leads me besides still waters
- He makes me lie down in green pastures
- He leads me in paths of righteousness
David’s Shepherd does not leave him in death, however, so he goes on to describe the Lord’s presence in death. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.”
Passing through death, David says, is like walking through dark shadows. He means to tell us that the experience is not a pleasant one, but that we, if we are one of God’s sheep, are to pass through death. He also tells us that the Lord is with us through this passing, so that we are not alone and we need not fear.
WHILE THIS PSALM ASSURES US THAT GOD IS WITH US AS WE PASS THROUGH THE SHADOW OF DEATH, IT DOES NOT TELL US HOW THIS HAPPENS.
2 Kings 6:15-17
In this text in the book of 2 Kings, the king of Syria intended to put Elisha, the prophet of God, to death. He surrounded the place where Elisha and his servant were staying. The servant was stricken with fear. Elisha, however, responded,
“Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Ki. 6:15-17).
The lesson is a simple one: What we see is only part of the picture. Elisha’s servant saw only the enemy, and they were awesome. But Elisha’s prayer enabled this servant to see the larger picture: the unseen host of angels, who were there to protect them from the enemy army which had encircled them.