When David was used of God to write this Psalm, he was himself a shepherd. This was a care and understanding he knew intimately. It was a relationship he was quite familiar with and was what he was found doing when God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint him king of Israel.
David would be known as the Shepherd King.
But who is “The LORD” that David refers to as his shepherd?
He was referring to Jehovah, the LORD God of Israel.
God incarnate, Jesus Christ, made it clear in John 10:11-14, he was the Good Shepherd.
Jesus was speaking to a great crowd to include the Pharisees not long after he had healed a blind man. He tells them in verse 9 that He is the door and then in verse 11 says, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Jesus then goes on to say in verse 14, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.”
David says, The LORD is MY Shepherd. This makes it personal.
And that is really the starting point to having a relationship with God is that he must be YOUR shepherd.
Of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, it says in John 1:3, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” So, when you say, “The LORD is my shepherd,” you are saying there is a profound and close relationship between me and my MAKER.
OH, what divine joy this ought to shine upon the field of our heart. As Psalm 144:3 says, “LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! Or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!”
The more we think of Jesus, the greater His esteem, the deeper the well of our love, the more vital becomes the relationship of our spirit as we commune the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.
David knew far too well, the quality of the life of the sheep was dependent upon the character of their shepherd. Was he gentle, kind, intelligent, brave, and selfless in his devotion to the fold? Or was he negligent, harsh, and uncaring? One will cause the sheep to flourish and find contentment, while the other will find them starving, struggling, with endless hardship.
We are blessed to have the Good Shepherd. But, as it proclaims He is my Shepherd, it is because he has made us first His sheep. I grew up on a farm in Texas and although I have been around a few sheep, we raised beef cattle. And, though I helped my grandfather, they were his cows. He was the one that sweat and bled in the heat of the sun to grow rice and harvest it, to begin saving the money to buy his first cows. If we were too aggressive with the cows or treated them in a way he didn’t care for, he would fuss at us real quick. “The LORD is my shepherd” because I was “purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
We are rightly compared to sheep, for they have a mob mentality, are stubborn, prone to wander off, and act quite stupidly at times. Yet, even still, we have a wonderful master who calls us each by name and longs to be the good shepherd we so greatly need.
LCDR Richard Wiese
Command Chaplain 22nd MEU