Before David was ever a king, he was a shepherd boy in the fields of Bethlehem. Only a shepherd could have penned the depth of meaning we find in the six short verses that make up the 23rd Psalm. The first 5 words of verse 1 hold the key and form the foundation of the entire Psalm. These words tell us much about our relationship with this good and great Shepherd.
He is preeminent: “The LORD is my shepherd” – There is only one LORD! the Hebrew word translated LORD here in Psalm 23 is Yahweh. The Jews regarded this name as so holy, and stood in such awe of it, that they would not even speak it publicly. Thousands have given their lives through the ages because they insisted on the truth of these first two words in this Psalm, The LORD. They were convinced that Jesus was Lord and they would bow to no other. Our God is still preeminent. He is the one and only LORD!
He is present: The LORD IS my shepherd” – This is not past tense. It does not say, “The LORD was my shepherd.” He is present – “The Lord IS my shepherd. He is with us at this very moment to meet our present needs. Unlike other religions, we do not have a leader who has long since departed the scene. He is the great “I AM,” not the great “I WAS.” As David would later say in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.”
He is personal: “The LORD is MY shepherd” – There is a huge difference in saying “The LORD is a shepherd” and saying “The LORD is MY shepherd.” The fact that the God of the universe is concerned about me personally gives purpose and meaning to my short sojourn on this small planet hung in His vast expanse.
He is protective: “The LORD is my SHEPHERD” – The nature of a shepherd is to be protective. The shepherd keeps a constant vigil for wild animals or other dangers that might harm his sheep. A good shepherd goes after the sheep that stray from the fold. Without a shepherd sheep are virtually helpless. They are not prepared for flight or fight. They need the protective leadership of their shepherd. In John 10:11 Jesus says “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”