Springtime brings nature babies: calves, lambs, and chicks to name a few. Wrapped up in creation are many lessons. Because God is the greatest teacher of all, He not only tells us what we need to know in the Bible, but He also uses imagery and stories to help us grasp spiritual concepts. And so there are many parallels between “The LORD is my shepherd” meaning and the relationship between God and ourselves. Certainly, it is a lovely metaphor that should encourage you.
Psalm chapter 23 from the Bible
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” ESV
The LORD is my shepherd meaning
Psalm 23 is important because it is a metaphor representing spiritual truths. The use of these word pictures was natural for the writer since he himself was a shepherd. The relationship between the shepherd and the sheep represents the spiritual connection between God and us. He is the shepherd and we are the sheep. Many parallels exist in this short Psalm of David which are further supported in other parts of Scripture.
“I shall not want”
Sheep are one of the few animals who can not fend for themselves if turned loose in the wild. Why?
- Finding food is something they don’t know how to do
- Fast moving water terrifies them
- Most other creatures cause them to be afraid
- They are easy prey to preditors
Consequently, sheep need a shepherd. First, they need someone to find food and calm water for them. Second, they need to know that they are safe. Third, they need someone to protect them.
People really are no different. We don’t instinctively know where spiritual food and water come from. Likewise, without the protection of a shepherd, we can become easy prey for our predators.
In comparison, Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd. He provides us with calm reassurance and spiritual protection. Likewise, Jesus is also called the bread of life- sustenance for our souls. Finally, Jesus provides us with living water for our thirsty souls. Furthermore, We don’t have to be afraid. We can have peace and comfort knowing the Lord our my shepherd.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures”
Green pastures provide food and rest for sheep. Being suspicious and anxious though, sheep won’t lay down unless they feel safe.
Likewise, we have our own anxieties that keep us from lying down. It seems that we are distracted by life and its demands. Yet, when we are in the presence of God we don’t have to be anxious. In fact, fear does not come from God. It comes from our predator, satan. (2 Timothy 1:7)
And where are we to lie down? Where do we find our green pastures? Certainly not in front of the TV or social media. Green pastures are to be found in the spiritual food that God has for us in the Bible and in prayer.
“He leads me beside still waters”
Because sheep can’t swim, fast-moving water is a death trap for them. They fear water unless it is calm. As you can see, there is a theme here. Sheep are pretty much afraid of everything.
Likewise, what kinds of things do you fear right now? Are you feeling insecure about anything? What kind of reassurance do you need?
“He restores my soul”
Sheep need to hear the voice of their shepherd. They need personal attention and care. Calming touch helps them feel a connection to their shepherd and helps them rest. When they get lost they need someone to find them and bring them back to the flock.
“I will feed my flock and will lead them to rest”, declares the Lord God. “I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken and strengthen the sick.” Ezekiel 34:15-16 (NASB)
Life sometimes makes us weary. We need someone to comfort us and reassure us that everything will be alright. Sometimes we get lost in the details of problems and need someone to brings us back to the truth. Jesus is the one who can do that. He restores our soul.
“He leads me”
The shepherd does not expect the sheep to get to a new pasture simply by pointing them in the right direction. He knows that sheep are easily distracted and can get lost. So, instead, the shepherd leads them and calls to them.
This is what happens when we read Scripture. Through the words found in the Bible, our Good Shepherd leads us in the way we should go. Jesus said,
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV
“You are with me”
Unfortunately, there are many things that frighten sheep: strange places, strange noises, new routines, you name it. A good shepherd will never leave his sheep alone. If he needs to go find a lost sheep, he will make sure that his assistant or a guard dog is with the sheep. The writer of the Book of Hebrews quoted Jesus in this way:
“He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’ ” Hebrews 13:5 NASB
“Your rod and staff comfort me”
Shepherds in Biblical days used a walking stick that was curly on one end and blunt on the other. It was also a tool in the hand of the gentle shepherd. When the shepherd found a sheep caught in brush, he could reach in with the curly end and pull the sheep out. Similarly, if the shepherd found a sheep in a ravine, he could use the curly end to reach down and pull the sheep to safety.
Equally important, the blunt end of the walking stick was used as a weapon against predators.
How does this apply to us? We often need to be rescued by Jesus when we are caught in situations that have us trapped. Furthermore, we need to be lifted up to safety when we have fallen. And for sure, we need protection from our predator, satan.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NASB
“You anoint my head with oil”
Certainly, this is one of the least understood parts of Psalm 23. If you have never lived with sheep, there are small parasites that can burrow into the skin around their nose and ears, causing infection. Subsequently, they pass it to other sheep by playfully head butting each other. But when oil is applied to the sheep’s head, it acts as a repellant to the parasites.
In the big and little things of life God is always wanting to protect us if we will let Him.
Responding to “the Lord is my shepherd” meaning
Just like sheep who need a shepherd to survive, we can’t survive without God in our lives. Jesus is our perfect, Good shepherd. He spiritually feeds us, nourishes us, protects us, and comforts us. We have nothing to fear. When we understand the meaning of “The LORD is my shepherd,” we can have hope, joy, and peace.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28 NASB
Do you know Jesus, the Good Shepherd? If not, you probably have questions. I would encourage you to call, text, or chat with the people at Chat About Jesus. Someone is waiting there to talk to you and answer your questions.
Final thoughts about the meaning of The LORD is my shepherd
In Psalm 23 and other passages, we learn about the characteristics of sheep and the characteristics of a good shepherd.
First, we learn that sheep are:
- Lack resources
- Get lost easily
- Can not save themselves from predators
Secondly, we learn that the Good shepherd:
- Protects the sheep
- Calms and reassures the sheep
- Provides for the sheep
- Leads the sheep
- Sacrifices for the sheep
- Loves the sheep
In short, God gives us everything we need through Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
A gift to remember “the LORD is my shepherd” meaning
These bookmarks are designed to be a constant reminder that The LORD is your shepherd. Use them in your Bible and other books that you may be reading. Or give them to a friend. You are welcome to download one or all of them. No email is required.
You might also like to read:
- Knowing God as a loving father
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- Bible reading for beginners