This would be one of my favourite pieces of scripture. David gives us beautiful insight, imagery and understanding of God and the life we have in him.
He begins with a statement that contains two contrasting words ‘Lord’ and ‘Shepherd’. Firstly ‘Lord’ in its original language in this passage is translated to ‘Jehovah’ and this is linked with the verb ‘to be’. This suggests that God was, is and will always be with his people. Then we are drawn to ‘Shepherd’ which in David’s time was very common, and connected with everyday life. This brings in an understanding of a personal, imminent God. Ian Barclay states, from his book ‘He is Everything to Me’, “Jehovah, the great I am, had suddenly become personal.”
In this Psalm we can see reference to the surrounding presence of God (read with the Psalm):
- Underneath us – green pastures
- Beside us – still waters
- With us
- Before us – prepare a table
- Behind us – goodness and love (will follow)
Before all this David states “… I shall not be in want.”
Take a moment to think about that in light of the surrounding presence of God.
I believe one key insight we can understand from this Psalm is that, in the ‘Lord’ (great, transcendent, infinite, powerful, almighty, awesome etc) our ‘Shepherd’ (good, imminent, close, loving, relational, personal etc) we have everything we need, but even more than just what we need, in the Lord our Shepherd we are completely satisfied and fulfilled.
Finally we see that finding our complete satisfaction and fulfilment in God (and the fullness and perfection of who he is) is not something that can ever be taken away. “I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
As you listen to this song consider where or what you get your satisfaction and fulfilment from.