Psalm 23 (New King James Version)
A Psalm of David.
A psalm about Jesus.
1 The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, 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.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
David never forgot his shepherd roots. And this psalm is surely one of the most familiar and most loved passages in all of Scripture. HERE is a beautiful musical arrangement of Psalm 23: “The Lord’s My Shepherd” sung in a Celtic rendition by Sheila Walsh.
The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.
My soul He doth restore again
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for His own name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk in darkness veiled,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.
My table Thou hast furnished
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.
Goodness and mercy, all my life,
Shall surely follow me;
And in God’s house forevermore
My dwelling place shall be.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
–from Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings
by Martin Luther, ed. by Barbara Owen
In this passage you hear that you lost sheep cannot find your way to the Shepherd yourself but can only roam around in the wilderness. If Christ, your Shepherd, did not seek you and bring you back, you would simply have to fall prey to the wolf.
But now he comes, seeks, and finds you. He takes you into His flock, that is, into Christendom, through the Word and Sacrament. He gives His life for you, keeps you always on the right path, so that you may not fall into error. You hear nothing at all about your powers, good works, and merits—unless you would say that it is strength, good works, and merit when you run around in the wilderness and are defenseless and lost.
No, Christ alone is active here, merits things, manifests His power; He seeks, carries, and directs you. He earns life for you through His death. He alone is strong and keeps you from perishing, from being snatched out of His hand.
And for all of this you can do nothing at all but only lend your ears, hear, and with thanksgiving receive the inexpressible treasure. Learn to know well the voice of your Shepherd, follow Him and avoid the voice of the stranger.