Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Good Shepherd in Psalm 23:5

artwork by Krista Hamrick

It is so energizing and exciting to participate in #Write31days, an online writing challenge where writers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in the month of October. Within the #Write31days category of Inspiration & Faith, I chose to focus on the topic of the Name Above All Names every day for 31 days. You can view each of my daily posts at this landing page.

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art prints, Name Above All Names Alphabet and Psalm 23 have so inspired me. Each of the 26 individual Names she has identified are so special, as Krista has intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows, each one with its Scripture reference.

My heart has been drawn to do a word study for each of the names included in her art print. Krista and I felt led to publish our Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ available on Amazon at this link. 

I was inspired by listening to this beautiful rendition of the Psalm 23 song, The Lord's My Shepherd, by Stuart Townend. while studying John 10:11 

  I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 

Amplified: I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep.

J. B. Phillips: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd will give his life for the sake of his sheep.

The Message: I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary.

Psalm 23 is perhaps the most beloved scripture about our Good Shepherd. Ask people which scripture they love the most and which has meant most to them and many would point to the Twenty-third Psalm. It has dried many tears and lifted many out of the pits of despair and discouragement. This small Psalm deals with almost every adverse circumstance in life and how to win over it.

study of Psalm 23:5...

AMPC: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.

CEB: You set a table for me right in front of my enemies. You bathe my head in oil; my cup is so full it spills over!

EXB: You prepare a ·meal [table] for me in ·front [the presence] of my enemies. You ·pour oil of blessing on my head [anoint my head with oil; oil was a means of refreshment in a hot, dry environment]; you ·fill my cup to overflowing [ make my cup overflow; a cup of blessing].

TLB: You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow!

MSG: You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.

Pastor Warren W. Wiersbe

—"Another word for “feast” is “table.” This table doesn’t necessarily refer to a piece of furniture used by humans, for the word simply means, “something spread out.” Flat places in the hilly country were called “tables,” and sometimes the shepherd stopped the flock at these “tables” and allowed them to eat and rest as they headed for the fold."

—"The shepherd would examine the sheep as they entered the fold to be sure none of them was bruised, injured, or sick from eating a poisonous plant. To the wounds, he applied the soothing oil, and for the thirsty, he had his large two-handled cup filled with water. He would also apply the oil to the heads and the horns of the sheep to help keep the flies and other insects away. The sheep knew they were safe, and they could sleep without fear."
JEHOVAH-NISSIThe Lord, our banner (Exodus 17:15)--You prepare a table before me

JEHOVAH-RAPHAThe Lord, my healer (Exodus 15:26)--You anoint my head with oil

The Good Shepherd would go before the flock and inspect the range. He would look for anything that could be a threat to the sheep. He removed poisonous plants. He looked for signs of wild animals, vipers, and poisonous spiders. After dealing with these enemies, the sheep are then brought in to graze in safety all the while the watchful eye of the shepherd alert for enemies.

Jehovah-Nissi--God is our Banner--A banner has the idea of a raised flag or pole, which is a symbol of victory. It has the idea of a banner gleaming conspicuously for all to see. It's the Cross that is the symbol of our victory. We are justified on the basis of Christ’s finished work on the Cross. We are under the banner of the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Because we have placed our trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, we are redeemed by His precious blood. The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed. Knowing that God’s love for us and approval of us will never be determined by our performance is the most encouraging promise to which we cling.

Pastor Charles Spurgeon
writes: "
Thou preparest a table, just as a servant does, when he unfolds the damask cloth and displays the ornaments of the feast on an ordinary peaceful occasion. Nothing is hurried, there is no confusion, no disturbance, the enemy is at the door, and yet God prepares a table, and the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were in perfect peace. Oh! the peace which Jehovah gives to his people, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances! Anoint my head with oil and my cup overflows, both activities represent the first two things a gracious host would do for an honored guest in David's day. The host would take a small clay pitcher with a very narrow neck, break the neck and pour the perfumed oil over the guest's head until it drips onto his beard and clothes, thus anointing him with a sweet smell. What a scene of blessing and honor. The psalmist’s head was anointed with oil, a generous gesture which bestowed honor on him as an esteemed guest. My cup overflows, not only enough, a full cup but more than enough, an overflowing cup,  not half-filled, but running over, not “leftovers” but abundantly given. God’s provision is as abundant as the drink offered to a guest by a generous host. The lavish treatment of the guest is indicative of the loving care of God for His people."

In the eastern tradition, a shepherd walks at the head of the flock. This is much different from the western tradition of driving the sheep from behind. The shepherd calls the flock out of the pen in the early morning to lead them to pools or wells of water where they can quench their thirst. He then guides them to green pastures, taking them around the rocky places where they might stumble. He assists the tiny and fragile sheep by lifting them with the crook of his staff. He runs his hand over the sheep as they enter the pen, counting them and ensuring that they have returned from the pasture unharmed. Then the shepherd settles in for the night to watch for predators. How awesome that Jesus is our shepherd. He will lead us to living water and guide us along the right path even when the way is rocky. He carries us when we stumble and watches over us during the dark nights of our lives, making us feel secure. All that He asks is that we respond to His voice and follow Him. 

Heavenly Father, 
It is comforting to know that I am not alone in the journey called life. God, I thank You that You are ever vigilant, watching over me, meeting with me in the morning, and abiding with me through the night. Even though I may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your name is Emmanuel--God with us--I am absolutely certain You are with me, You will never leave me or forsake me. May I always respond to Your voice and stay close to You. I gladly follow You as You call my name! In Your mighty Name Above All Names--Good Shepherd, we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on John 10:11 Pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on 
John 10:11 pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on 
John 10:11 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

* If you liked this post you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


  1. Beth, reading about how actual shepherds look after their sheep has given me so much comfort knowing we have God as our shepherd. We can live in peace knowing he is leading and taking care of us.

    1. Rachel, thank you so much for stopping by. I so agree with you that the more we get to know the heart of our Great Shepherd, the more we love Him and receive His unconditional love for us. Many blessings to you ❤️


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