"The LORD is my Shepherd"

    This is a fresh new look at the 23rd Psalm from the standpoint of GRACE..  GRACE has to do more with a relationship with God rather than the performance under the Law.  Grace is a gift of God which is not merited.  Grace is all of God's riches at Christ's expense.  Grace is the will and power of God working in us to do His will.   Grace is the favor of God.   The Law says that we must perform to receive the blessings of God and a failure to do so brings the curses. However, GRACE says that God blesses us that we may serve Him and obey voice of the the Holy Spirit.

1. "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want"  (Psalms 23:1).

The Hebrew word translated "LORD" is actually the Hebrew "Yahweh".  Yahweh is the name for God, the great "I AM' who spoke to Moses.  Yahweh is the eternal, self existing, all sufficient God.  However you will note that David does not speak of God as being something distant.  He speaks of the closeness of the shepherd to the sheep.  There is nothing about the sheep having to perform to belong to the shepherd.  The shepherd has chosen his sheep, but not on it's performance. "We love him, because he first loved us"  (I John 4:19).

In the New Covenant (Testament), Jesus says that he is the good shepherd. "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep"  (John 10:11).  This is a direct reference back to Psalms 23.  Jesus also speaks about his sheep having a "relationship" with him.  "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ"  (John 1:17).  Although the "but" is not found in the original written text, it is most definitely understood to be there.  Some would declare that God gave the law through Moses, then as an after thought added grace.  Some would also go so far as to say that you must obey the law in order to receive the grace of God.  This is an outright lie of the devil (the deceiver)!!!  Grace and truth came through the person of Jesus that man might have a relationship and out of that relationship enter into a fellowship with God.  The Gospel of grace for excels the law.   The law only brought the knowledge of sin and death!  Grace brings truth and life.  The law brings the condemnation and wrath of God.  Grace brings the love and mercy of God.

Look at it again. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).  Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we have a much better covenant than the old, outdated one.  "But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises"  (Hebrews 8:6).  Jesus is a picture of God's unmerited favor of God. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"  (Romans 5:8).  Now TRUTH is not the natural truth, but that which is revealed solely by God himself.  Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"  (John 8:32).  What does the truth set us free from?   BONDAGE!  The truth sets of free from doing religious works in order to be saved, whether it means belonging to specific church, trying to live a perfect life, or being water baptized in order to be saved!  The truth sets us from from condemnation and the wrath of God.  The truth sets us free from guilt and fear.  However, the truth is much, much more than a philosophy, the truth is a person.  "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me"  (John 14:6).  This also means that there is no real spiritual truth that excludes Jesus.  He is the sole spiritual truth.  He is the one and ONE and ONLY WAY to the Father.

Because of the GRACE relationship that the sheep have with the shepherd, they shall not lack anything.  Remember grace and truth come only through Jesus.  "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus"  (Philippians 4:19).  Whatever your need is, it has already been supplied through Jesus.  "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"  (Romans 8:32).   Remember, Grace says that we receive the BLESSINGS of God through faith because He loves us!  Again, the law says that we have to perform to receive the blessings.

2. "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters"  (Psalms 23:2).
This is a picture of plenty, comfort, rest, direction, and safety.  Green pastures just don't happen.  The shepherd must prepare the field for the sheep.  He has to remove the harmful rocks, poisonous weeds, and the dangerous thorny brushes.  He has to find a field that is fruitful and where there is still, fresh water.   The sheep cannot provide for themselves, the shepherd must provide for them.  When we accept the Grace and Truth of God that comes by faith in Jesus we find plenty, comfort, rest, direction, and safety.  However, if we try to perform ourselves to gain these, we find poverty, disease, anxiety, confusion, and destruction.  When we live under the law, it demands perfect PERFECT PERFORMANCE.  The law require work, work, and more work to receive the blessings of God.  Grace says that God blesses us that we may serve the Father as His children.  Jesus, in contrast to the law, said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light"  (Matthew 11:28-30).  If we are laboring to be accepted of God and by others to receive God's blessings we will wear ourselves out.  I counsel many, many people who have done just this.  "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them"  (Galatians 3:10-12).  The law requires performance: "The man that doeth them shall live in them."  Since the law requires perfection and no one is able to obtain perfection by self effort, then every one that tries fall under the curses.  However, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:  That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith"  (Galatians 3:13-14). By faith in Jesus, we are set free from the "works" and "the curse" that we may receive the blessings.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ"  (Ephesians 1:3).  This verse declares that the Believer is already blessed!  In Christ, the Believer is blessed with being a new spiritual creation without the works of the law.  "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law"  (Romans 3:28).

3. "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake"  (Psalms 23:3).
Medications can numb your senses, but only the Grace and Truth can restore your soul.  There is a prophecy in the book of Joel concerning the coming of Jesus.  "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you"  (Joel 2:25).  Jesus restores our mind, will, and emotions.  He brings peace.  "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus"  (Philippians 4:7).

Jesus (our Grace and Truth) guides us.   "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me"  (John 10:27).   Again looking at Jesus bringing Grace and Truth ... Grace and Truth guides us in the path of righteousness.   Grace is the goodness of God extended to us.  God's goodness leads us.  The Truth leads us on the right path.   Why does God bless us?  It is so that we will go in the right direction.   Why?  It is so that God keeps a good reputation.  Paul said, "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me"  (I Corinthians 15:10).  God gave Paul both the GRACE to be a new creation, and the GRACE (ability) to live as he should.

4. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me"  (Psalms 23:4).
The reality is that the Good Shepherd will lead us even through the valley of the shadow of death. Jesus said, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world"  (John 16:33).  Even though there are tribulations, we don't have to fear evil!  We don't have to live with anxiety disorders! Why? We have the Grace and Truth of God with us.  Grace is the ability of God given to the Believer to do what is right no matter how difficult the situation or what the situation is.  "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13).  The rod of the shepherd represents the authority and power of the shepherd. For us, it is a symbol the authority and power of God watching over us.  The staff is the pole with a hook at the end to pull the sheep out of the pit if they slip and fall in.  We often don't have the ability to get out of the pits into which we have fallen. However, even though we are weak, He is strong.  Again Paul wrote, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me"  (II Corinthians 12:9).  When we live by His grace and truth we find comfort.
5. "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over"  (Psalms 23:5).
I really like this, because it tells me that Jesus has prepared the table.  I was recently struggling with this truth.  Freedom Fellowship Church acquired a large new church building, but the church had to do considerable renovation before they could move in.  The church said that when they had completed everything that the church would provide a new office for me.  I desperately wanted to help with the labor, but found myself very busy counseling.  My energy and time was all expended through the counseling which I was doing.  Then at one point the church said that my office is ready.  I did very little in helping with the renovation; therefore, I felt that it was not right that they would give me a new office which I didn't really deserve.  Then God spoke to me through a sermon which I heard.  God told the Hebrew children coming out of Egyptian bondage that He would lead them to the promised land. "And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,  And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; ...."  (Deuteronomy 6:10-11).  The truth set me free from guilt and condemnation.  This is it, "God provided an office that I did not renovate."  Furthermore, the church itself acquired a building for almost nothing, which it did not build.  God indeed blesses us that we may serve even when the enemies my surround us.

The anointing gives care and protection for the sheep.  The shepherd on anoints his own sheep.  My understanding is that the shepherd puts an oil mixed with spice upon the head of the sheep to keep the flies from biting the face of the sheep.   When we live by Grace and Truth we find both His care and His protection.

Jesus said, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly"  (John 10:10).  Jesus not only provides us with eternal life, but a life that is overflowing.

6. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever"  (Psalms 23:6).
Under the Law one only received blessing if he is perfectly obedient.  With Grace and Truth, the goodness and mercy follow the believer all the days of his life.  "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose"  (Romans 8:28).  No matter what happens, God can work all things together for the good for the Believer!  God can turn the curse into a blessing.  He can turn that which was mean to be evil toward us into something good.

I just had a new revelation concerning, "I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."   I have always taken it in a future sense, but in another sense, Believers are already dwelling in the house of the LORD for ever.   "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7).  If you are a true Believer, then you are already spiritually seated with Christ in Heaven!  Furthermore, nothing will ever change that!  Spiritually seeing this truth opens the door to "receive" and "experience" the blessings of God.