The Shepherd Psalms

Ed Jones

The Psalms express the deepest emotions of shepherds and kings, prophets and priests, as they wrestle with loss, disillusionment, celebration, and the hope of eternal life with the God who made them. But more than anything, the Psalms picture a new way to see Jesus Christ.

You know Psalm 23, likely by heart. But the poetry that takes us to green pastures would be meaningless without Psalm 22, which is like standing on holy ground.

We should take off our spiritual shoes when we read Psalm 22, called “the psalm of the cross”—a psalm that accurately and specifically describes the crucifixion of Jesus better than any other portion of Scripture. But the picture Psalms 22 and 23 paints isn’t complete without Psalm 24, a majestic chorus sung about Jesus, the King of glory.

All three together are called “the Shepherd psalms.”

In Psalm 22, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Here we see Jesus, our Savior, on the cross. You must know the Savior of Psalm 22 before you can know the Shepherd of Psalm 23. No man can say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” until he can say, “The Lord is my Savior.”

In Psalm 23, Jesus is the Great Shepherd. Here we see Jesus, our Satisfier, holding the shepherd’s crook. He satisfied the Father’s holy demands through His blood, and today He satisfies every searching soul with goodness and mercy.

Psalm 24 reveals Jesus as the Chief Shepherd. We picture the King’s crown that sovereign Jesus will wear someday.

The Shepherd psalms give us a wonderful reminder on which to face life and death. Listen to David, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” It’s a terrible thing to think of dying by yourself. It’s comforting to know that we’re not going through death’s doorway alone. We’ve got Someone who says He is going with us. Our tender Shepherd Jesus does not leave His sheep, but leads us from this life to the next.

This world hasn’t anything today to equal that kind of love—for here and now, as David said, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life …” Then “… and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6) takes care of eternity.

Who is Jesus to you today? As our Shepherd, in Psalm 22, He gives His life for the sheep. In Psalm 23, He gives His love to the sheep. In Psalm 24, He gives us light when He shall appear.

Next time you hear or read Psalm 23, remember the complete picture, the picture of Jesus as our Shepherd. In the past He died for us, He now lives for us, and in the future, He is coming again for us.

Ed Jones pastors Fellowship At The Ranch Church at Robson Ranch. This nondenominational church meets at the Robson clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Visit Fellowship’s website for information.