Psalm 23: Singing to the Shepherd

Psalm 23 is not just a psalm. It’s a bone.

We often hear we should meditate on Scripture, but that sounds like a lot of work, and we’re often not sure how to do it.  Let’s take a lesson from a dog.  My dog.

What does Sasha do all day, especially when we’re gone?  Not much.  She doesn’t read, listen to music, talk on the phone, or text.  Mostly she sleeps. Sometimes she chews on her bone.  I’ve noticed she seems to like some bones better than others.  The dental chews we bought for her at Costco don’t get much attention.  The rawhide sticks are great but only last a few minutes.  The elk antler, now that’s a bone, held between paws, marrow licked first, then long and steady gnawing on all sides.  Tasted with deep sighs, occasional grunts, undivided attention. Savored.

Psalm 23 is that kind of Psalm, one to be savored, not just studied.

A Song to be Sung. Like all the other psalms, Psalm 23 is a song to be sung.  That’s one of the best ways to meditate.  Good songs are truth distilled to poetry and set to music.  The truth sticks and goes deep.  If you know a musical version to Psalm 23, now’s the time to pull it out.  There’s one in my hymnal and another one on the Sovereign Grace Psalms CD.  If you have a favorite, feel free to share it with us.

This is a great time to mention that David was not just a King, but a singer.  His audience changed over time, from sheep to King Saul to his own court, but his songs were always about the LORD.  Those songs that were preserved as psalms have been sung before the LORD by his people from David’s time to the present.  

David’s greatest son, Jesus, also was a singer.  He would have grown up  singing the psalms.  He would have known and sung Psalm 23.  The late theologian Edmund Clowney once said, “It’s important to know that we have a singing Savior.  Jesus sang the Psalms.  When we sing them, we sing them with him.  And we sing them to him.”

Let’s study this Psalm a little so we can sing it better.

Study Questions for the week:

Day 1 & 2:  Study it as a shepherd

1. David was a shepherd.  How did his experience shape this psalm?  See 1 Samuel 16:11, 19; 17:14-15, 34-37; 2 Samuel 5:2-3
2. Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  How did this psalm influence the way he revealed himself in John 10:1-16?  See also Ezekiel 34:11-16.
3. I am a shepherd.  Who do I take care of during my week–children? students? employees? others in my world?  How does my experience of caring for others give me greater appreciation for the care of my Shepherd?

Day 3 & 4:  Study it as a sheep

1. David was a sheep.  He experienced the LORD’s care as an individual and as a member of the flock (Psalm 95:7).  How did his experience of the Shepherd’s care shape this psalm?  See 1 Samuel 23:1-14 for one historical example.
2. Jesus was a sheep.  He experienced the Father’s care during his days on earth. What might he have had in mind as he sang Psalm 23?  See Mt. 4:11; Mark 4:38; Luke 5:16; 14:23, 22:43; John 4:6 for biographical examples.
3. I am a sheep.  (Baaaaa…)  Where have I experienced God’s personal care, leading, courage, blessing or presence recently?  Praise him and share it.  How do I need his care today?  Ask him.

Day 5:  Meditate on it as a singer

1. David was a singer.  Here are a few songs he wrote (in addition to Psalm 23) to ask and praise the LORD for his care:  Psalm 5:8, 19:7, 27:4, 31:3, 103:1-5, 139:10.  
2. Jesus was a singer.  He sang on the very night of his betrayal.  See Matthew 26:30.  He was literally singing on the way to the cross.  When else might he have sung to his Father?
3. I am a singer.  Use one of the Psalms to sing to the Lord today.  Sing it with the Savior.  Sing it to the Savior.

“O come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”

Comments are closed.