Salvation Encapsulated: the 23rd Psalm

by Lester Young

Most of us can probably recite this famous psalm without missing a single ‘King-James-Version’ word. But how often do we really slow down and take the time to muse over what it’s actually saying to us? Well, here are a few of my own Spirit-inspired thoughts about this beautiful Scripture, and you’re more than welcome to them:

1) The LORD is my Shepherd; I will not lack anything. He’s my own personal Shepherd, which means I don’t think twice about following Him, wherever He leads. It’s His job, after all, to lead me – but He doesn’t do it for that reason, out of obligation; He does it because He’s committed to it: to do the will of His Father, and to love me just as He loves Himself (Matthew 22:37-40; Hebrews 10:7). But, regardless of ‘why,’ I need be concerned no further than the fact (the Truth!) that He loves me…me, personally! And I’m secure in placing my full trust in that personal-love relationship we have with each other. (Read the Song of Solomon, with the knowledge that our Shepherd is the Groom and His bride is the Church – that is, us; individually as well as collectively.) As Shepherd, He’s responsible for all of my well-being, period. Yes, I have to follow Him; but that means He must lead and provide – simply put, that’s the Shepherd-sheep dynamic. And, owning everything already, He’s well-equipped to take complete care of me, so I don’t have to ‘take care’ about myself (Psalm 24:1; Matthew 6:25-34). He’s my Security Blanket.

2) He makes me lie down in green pastures, leading me beside still waters. My Shepherd doesn’t just seek out any old place to put me. The place he has for me (both now and forever) is a place that I will flourish and be at home in. It’s a place of growth and prosperity, but requires no toil. Mind you, I didn’t say “it requires no work.” I said, “No toil;” as in ‘grief,’ ‘sorrow,’ and ‘trying to get things to work by my own intelligence (such as it is) or strength.’ The place He has for me is already blessed, and it makes me rich without such toil because the Anointing is at work in me, through me and on my behalf (Deuteronomy 28:2, 8; Proverbs 10:22; 2 Corinthians 9:12). His sources for me are easy, restful, quiet and peaceful.

3) He restores my soul, leading me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. I have the comfort and assurance of knowing that however and wherever He’s leading me, in whatever path it may be – whether I understand it at the moment or not – it’s not only ‘a’ right way, it’s ‘the’ right way. The character inherent in His Name precludes any other option. It’s right, because He is right (Psalm 119:128). And if I do what He tells me and follow the way He leads me, I’m right too, regardless of what my mind or anyone else says; and that’s the end of all argument. This very simple formula gives me the pattern for ‘right-thinking’ (that is, thinking in line with His Word and Will), making it surprisingly easy to identify any ‘wrong’ thinking or sentiments which may have crept in and clandestinely set up shop, typically without our even realizing it (i.e., ‘worldly’ thinking).

4) Yes, though I’m walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear any evil: for You are with me; Your rod and staff comfort me. Sure, I acknowledge that this world down here can be a dangerous place to live. But, just how much danger am I in, really? I have a Shepherd Whom I follow; One Who’s already promised to always be with me and never leave or forsake me (Isaiah 59:21; Hebrews 13:5), Who knows the road I should take and is committed to my care and complete deliverance all the way up to that Great Day of full redemption (Psalm 37:23; John 10:27-30; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; Jude 1:24). So, what’s there for me to really fear? Absolutely nothing! I keep my attention on His rod of direction, protection and correction; as well as the staff of His provision for me. Besides, how many ‘shadows’ have ever actually perpetrated crimes on anyone?

5) You’ve prepared a table for me in the presence of my enemies: You’ve anointed my head with oil; my cup is running over. When situations and circumstances look their worst, all I have to do is remember Who sponsors me. Whatever I need to overcome, whatever I need to succeed, whatever I need to win, I can simply go to the spread He’s already laid out right in front of me – that banquet of exceedingly great and precious promises which have already been ratified to me in Blood (Song of Solomon 2:4; 2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Peter 1:2-4) – pick what answers my problem, apply it in faith and watch my enemies fall (1 Samuel 17:47; Zechariah 4:6). My Shepherd, the Head Who’s been placed over me is most Anointed (Psalm 45:7; Ephesians 1:22); and He not only leads me, He’s actually given me everything He has, so that I share in everything with Him, including His seat of power! (Luke 22:29; Romans 8:17; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 1:13) It’s hard to even dream that much blessing!

6) Surely goodness and mercy will follow me today and every day of my life: and I will permanently settle in and inhabit the house of Lord. My Shepherd has promised me that as long as I follow Him – regardless of whatever is happening around me – love, acceptance, favor, tender mercy and all good things will hunt me down and come upon me. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t outrun them even if I wanted to (Deuteronomy 28:2) – which of course, I don’t (because I’m not quite that ignorant).

Psalm 23 is a wonderful summary of our complete salvation in Christ Jesus, our Good Shepherd (John 10:11; 14-15). It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, contrary to the world’s usual, in this instance it is too good, but true nevertheless. My Shepherd told me, and He wouldn’t lie (Proverbs 14:5; John 17:17; 1 John 5:6). Take a few moments and ask your Shepherd; I’m sure He’ll tell you the very same thing.

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2 Comments to “Salvation Encapsulated: the 23rd Psalm”

  1. Amen, so true, Psalm 23 encapsulates the salvation we have in the Lord Jesus Christ — all of our human needs, spiritual, mental, physical, psychological, and everything else are promised to be met in this wonderful psalm. Thank you, Lester! Dee

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