Christ keeps His sheep rotating through different areas of sanctification, assuring us, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Yet Phillip Keller notes that shepherds also take the sheep into deep wells of dark caverns for water: “Many of the places we may be led into will appear to us as dark, deep, dangerous and somewhat disagreeable. But it simply must be remembered that He is there with us in it.”
J. Douglas MacMillan shares how fisherman alerted him about one of his sheep stuck on a lonely cliff’s edge with nothing left to eat. And having had no water to soften and digest the food, it later died.
In contrast, Psalm 23 promises that God will always guide Christians where they can eat and drink, ensure that they do, and provide only what’s best.
Your Good Shepherd will always provide for all your basic needs and nourishment.
Verse one proclaims, “I shall not want.” John McNeill interprets the phrase as, “I’m looked after. Kept, provided for.”
And in verse five, God prepares your table in advance.
Phillip Keller explains how he took his sheep to the “mesa” (Spanish, “table”) in the summer mountains, a high-topped plateau. He suggests David may have had in mind how the shepherd first finds the best place for the sheep and labors to clear and cultivate it ahead of time. Just as God told the Israelites He had prepared Canaan for them with builded cities, ready-made and furnished houses, pre-dug wells, and farmed vineyards and trees.
Christian, Jesus said: I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14:2-3). Meanwhile, He lays out His communion table to satisfy you with His righteousness.
Sadly, we often lose our appetite. So, as McNeill wisely comments, “He is preparing a place for us, and preparing us for the place.”
Your Good Shepherd will always provide you with an appropriate appetite.
Verse three sighs, “He restoreth my soul”; literally in the Hebrew, “My soul he brings back,” translated elsewhere, “repents.”