June 22, 2017

A Psalm from the Shepherd’s Fields

John C. Vaughn

David wrote many psalms in many circumstances, but the 23rd is the most well known and most beloved of all. It was born in the shepherds’ fields and guides us into deeper love and trust for our Great Shepherd. We return to it again and again, not to look for previously unseen and spellbinding meaning (though we sometimes find it!), but to rest in its well known truth. Come again to this psalm of the Shepherd’s field and gaze on Him there.

The psalm begins right where the Christian life begins, with a personal relationship with the Shepherd. This is no mere metaphor, for David did not say, “The Lord is like a shepherd.” He, like the confident Christian, proclaims, “Jehovah is my Shepherd.” Because Jesus Christ protects him and provides for him just as a patient, watchful shepherd does for his sheep, the Christian realizes, “I shall not want—I have everything I need to do God’s will for my life.” The present reality of that marvelous first verse leads right into the future tense of verses 2 and 3.

He will share His life with you, providing rest and refreshment as He “makes you lie down in green pastures” and “leads you beside still waters.” He will give His life for you, providing restoration as He “brings back your soul” giving you eternal life. He will put His life in you, producing revival, as He “leads you in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Your personal relationship with Christ begins at salvation and should grow closer as you grow older. A deepening relationship with your Shepherd includes more talking to Him as well as talking about Him. Notice the shift from “he” to “thou” in verse 4 as the psalmist considers not only his life but also his death.

The Christian doesn’t need to fear the tomb. Natural life leads to the grave, but the grave has lost its sting. The resurrection of Jesus Christ ensures you that death’s mere “shadow” cannot harm you. Your Divine Shepherd will not leave you. You have nothing to fear, for He is with you! You are secure in Him, for your Divine Shepherd will not lose you. Take comfort in His protection as He guards you with His rod and guides you with His staff.

He is the Good Shepherd indeed. Not only are you free from the fear of the tomb, but you need not fear any torment. The same love that casts out our fear of death removes the torments of life. Every form of physical hunger, though very real, is diminished at the table of God’s blessings for the heart. Physical injury, though often severe, should only remind you of the healing ointment for your soul. In all of life’s turmoil, take refreshment in His tonic for the soul; let Him “anoint your head with the oil” of His gladness, and let your “cup run over” with His blessings.

First John 4:18 tells us, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” There is the key to the Shepherd’s care—His love! We know that “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” There is no greater love. Christ Himself said so in John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He proved it on the cross and explained it in John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”

In Christ, you will never walk the Shepherd’s fields alone. You have a Helper as long as you are here. His “goodness” will guide your steps, and His “mercy” will be there when you stumble. There is no fear, no shame, no dissatisfaction in being one of God’s sheep when you rest in your Shepherd’s love. David served in the shepherds’ fields while God was preparing him to reign as king. You must serve in your Shepherd’s fields while God prepares you to reign with Him as King. This psalm from the shepherds’ fields has comforted saints through the centuries, providing help right here and promising a home up there.

As we reflect on the marvel of our Savior’s birth announced in the shepherds’ fields, let us take comfort and courage that those who labor in His fields today will soon hear the announcement of His return, and we “shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”!


John Vaughn is the President of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International.

(Originally published in FrontLine • November / December 2006. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)


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