Psalm 23 means more than you think

Sep 24, 2012Find joy today, Heal from the past

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of teaching our life group at church. My text? Psalm 23. A few nuggets:

There are two parts of the psalm with two metaphors for the Lord. Of course, the most familiar one is God as shepherd, but starting in verse five the psalm takes an odd shift. We move from the metaphor of shepherd to host. Not host like heavenly host, but host like Martha Stewart, one who invites people to her house.

As I thought about God as the best shepherd and the kindest host, I realized that Jesus was also both. The New Testament is full of references with Jesus as the good shepherd. (If you’d like to do a study on these, here they are: John 10:7-15, Hebrews 13:20-21, Matthew 11:28-30, 1 Peter 2:25 and Revelation 7:17).

He is also an amazing host. His first miracle involved wine for a wedding party. He fed 5000 folks. He made outcasts seem like members of the family. (See John 2:1-22, Luke 14:12-14, Matthew 11:19, Matthew 14:15-21, Luke 22:14-23).

As I considered this, I realized that not only is the fulfillment of the best shepherd and host, but that God calls all of us to shepherd and host others. Who in your life right now do you need to shepherd? Who has God called you to host?

Another fun thing about this passage is the verb tense. It’s in the great right now. It’s not that the Lord was a shepherd or will be a shepherd. The verb tense is the habitual present tense, meaning God is and always will be our shepherd. Cool, huh?

The last thing I loved about the passage was that God prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies. What sustained me in France was picturing a huge banquet table, full of amazing food. Though enemies might’ve been hollering all around me, it didn’t matter because I was an honored guest at the King’s table. If you’re going through a rough time, maybe that picture will help you through.

Q4u: What else surprises you about Psalm 23?


  1. Joan Imhoff

    I will fear no evil, to me the evil I fear is what lurks within me, the self doubt, the fear of many things: sickness, dementia, fears for my grandchildren and the list can go on. The shepherds rod and staff reminds me that the shepherd was able to chase away the wild animals that would harm the sheep, and the staff with the crook reminds me that He could draw those sheep back from the precipice(hilliy country) or bring it back to the fold if it wandered too far. We are like the sheep where He can chase away the fears, or draw us back when we get too near to the edge or wander to far.. I didn’t think about the Shepherd being the host, so that brings me a new perspective of that Psalm. Thank you,

    • Mary DeMuth

      I love all of this, Joan. Thanks for sharing.