Summer In the Psalms

June 28-July 2


The Lord is My Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. – Psalm 23:1 (ESV)

I saw a meme the other day that said they were ready for some precedented times. In fact, this season has been unprecedented in most of our lifetimes. It would be so easy to allow worry to consume us. However, Psalm 23 was written to provide an antidote for panic and worry.

Ira Sankey, who for years led the music for D.L. Moody’s evangelistic meetings, was traveling by steamboat on Christmas Eve in 1875. He was recognized by some of the passengers, and they asked him to sing. Sankey agreed, and began singing “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us.” When the song was done, one of the listeners stepped forward and asked, “Did you serve in the Union Army?” “Yes,” Mr. Sankey answered. “Can you remember if you were doing picket duty on a bright, moonlit night in 1862?” “Yes,” Mr. Sankey said again.

“I was serving in the Confederate army. When I saw you standing at your post, I raised my gun and took aim. I was standing in the shadow, completely concealed, while the full light of the moon was falling upon you. At that instant, you raised your eyes to Heaven and began to sing that same song. ‘Let him sing his song to the end,’ I said to myself, ‘I can shoot him afterward.’ I heard the words perfectly: ‘We are Thine; do Thou befriend us. Be the Guardian of our way.’ I began to think of my childhood and my God-fearing mother who sang that song to me. When you finished, it was impossible for me to take aim again. I thought, ‘The Lord who is able to save that man from certain death must surely be great and mighty.’”


The psalmist also believed that God was great and mighty and able to save. Take a few moments and reread Psalm 23. While you are reading underline all the verbs describing what God, the Great Shepherd, promises to do for His sheep. Which promises mean the most to you?


Praise God for the promises that mean the most to you.


The Lord is My Shepherd: Rest

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. – Psalm 23:1-2 (ESV)

According to a Greek legend, in ancient Athens a man noticed the great storyteller Aesop playing childish games with some little boys. He laughed and jeered at Aesop, asking him why he wasted his time in such frivolous activity. Aesop responded by picking up a bow, loosening its string, and placing it on the ground. Then he said to the critical Athenian, “Now, answer the riddle if you can. Tell us what the unstrung bow implies.” The man looked at it for several moments but had no idea what point Aesop was trying to make. Aesop explained, “If you keep a bow always bent, it will break eventually; but if you let it go slack, it will be more fit for use when you want it.”

Clearly, some of us feel like we are about to break. God has hard-wired a need for rest into the DNA of His creation. If we are constantly under strain we will eventually break. In Psalm 23 the writer sees himself as a sheep and God as a shepherd. And one of the benefits of a good shepherd is he leads his sheep to a place of rest. In spiritual terms rest means primarily to cease one’s works with the idea of release from anxiety, worry, and insecurity. This rest is offered to all and is freely available by grace through personal faith in Jesus Christ.


Sheep won’t lie down and rest if they are afraid. Do you think there are fears or worries in your life that are keeping you from resting spiritually, physically, or emotionally? In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus talks about rest. What does this passage say you should do with the overload you are feeling?


Thank God for the gift of rest. Ask God to who you when and how He wants you to rest.


The Lord is My Shepherd: Filled

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. – Psalm 23:1-2 (ESV)

Sheep won’t lay down and rest if they are hungry. In Psalm 23 the green pastures symbolize a place of feeding and abundance. God, like a good shepherd, leads His sheep to a place of fullness and contentment.

Coming downstairs one morning, a British nobleman heard his cook exclaim, “Oh if I only had five pounds, wouldn’t I be content!” Wishing to satisfy the woman, soon after he handed her a five-pound note, then worth about $25. She thanked him profusely. But after he stepped out of the room again, he overheard her say, “Why didn’t I say ten?”

How much do we need to be happy? Just a little bit more than we’ve got! A reporter asked the late oil tycoon, J. Paul Getty, “If you retired now, would you say that your holdings would be worth a billion dollars?” Getty did some mental calculations. “I suppose so,” he said. “But remember, a billion doesn’t go as far these days as it used to.”


Many of us are never content. We are constantly striving to satisfy a mental, emotional and spiritual hunger that material things will never satisfy. Most of our feelings of overload and anxiety are tied to things that leave us always wanting more. The psalmist said he had all that he needed and lacked nothing because of the green meadows God had led him to.

God supplies all of our needs but not all of our wants. When you think about the different types of hunger in your life, are they mostly tied to needs or wants? How can you look to God to satisfy some of those hungers?


If you are able, find some green space today and sit for a while and ask God where He wants to lead you that’s fulfilling and peaceful.


The Lord is My Shepherd: Never Alone

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. – Psalm 23:1-2 (ESV)

As his UCLA football team suffered through a poor season in the early 1970s, head coach Pepper Rodgers came under intense criticism and pressure from alumni and fans. Things got so bad, he remembers with a smile, that friends became hard to find. “My dog was my only true friend,” Rodgers says of that year. “I told my wife that every man needs at least two good friends—and she bought me another dog.” (Today in the Word)

We are made to need friends. And we really need them when times get bad. When Jesus is the Shepherd of our life we are never alone. In fact, Proverbs 18:24 describes Jesus as a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Spiritually, our tendency is to wander and get off track. However, Jesus is always present and always trying to lead us to the center of God’s will for our lives.


Who are your closest friends? What are some of the things that make them special friends? In what ways can you see how Jesus wants to be a close friend in your life?


Praise Jesus for being a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Thank Him for leading you.


The Lord is My Shepherd: Peace

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. – Psalm 23:1-2 (ESV)

In 2011, an eighty-four-year-old man named Henry Morello was driving north of Phoenix, Arizona, when he realized he was heading the wrong direction. When he tried to turn around he got stuck in a ditch. Unable to walk to the main road to get help, he spent five days trapped in his car. To stay alive he took a rock and cracked open the wiper fluid container in his car and drank the fluid. He even read his car manual in its entirety to pass the time. After he was rescued, doctors were amazed to find him in such good condition.

Sheep won’t rest if they are thirsty. One of the promises of the Good Shepherd in Psalm 23 is to lead us to “still waters.” “Thirsty,” in recent slang, describes a graceless need for approval, affection or attention. It might mean that someone is desperate and making bad choices. In his 1936 personal-development opus “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie quotes the Vienna-born scientist Hans Selye: “As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.” 

God said in Jeremiah 2:13, “My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Broken cisterns represent things we look for to satisfy us but ultimately will let us down and leave us unsatisfied. If we turn from God and what He has provided to other things, we’ll not be content and we will still be thirsty.


Can you think of some “broken cisterns” in your life that you trusted in the past to satisfy you but have failed you and left you thirsty for more? Ask God how He wants to lead you to a peaceful and satisfying stream within His will for your life.


Thank God for providing you with living waters. Praise Jesus as the Prince of Peace.