Psalm 23: A SOAP Devotional

At River Valley, we believe God’s Word has the power to transform our lives. Through the Bible, we hear from God, discover His plans, and are inspired to live as Jesus lived. That’s why we are committed to offering you an opportunity to engage in God’s Word every day through something we call SOAP: Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer.

Most days, we read two consecutive chapters of the Bible. Some days that amounts to a fair bit of reading; other days, it may be a shorter. All in all, the hope is that through SOAP, you find meaningful time with God through reading His Word regularly and praying for the Holy Spirit  to reveal and guide you in Truth.

Today, we are reading one of the most famous chapters in the Bible: Psalm 23. If you grew up going to church, you may have memorized the entire chapter for Sunday school (like I had to). Even if you are new to this whole church thing, you very well may be familiar with the verses you will read today.

My hope is that you will allow these six verses to transform and inspire you today:

Psalm 23 (NIV)
A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Psalm 23 begins with a small, but important note: this is a psalm of David. David, despite being the most beloved King of ancient Israel, was a man just like we are. He was tempted to fret over his life on many occasions, not the least of which was the time when Saul was on the hunt to take his life, which according to some scholars may very well form the background to this psalm. The psalm has two basic sections, each one helping us see our Father in Heaven as the Good Shepherd. The first four verses focus on God as faithful and good to his people. It calls us to trust God no matter what. The second section made up of the last two verses focuses our attention on God as a gracious host, preparing a splendid meal for us, and results in our rejoicing over His grace toward us.

Interestingly, the theme of God as a Shepherd was actually quite common in ancient Israel. However, Psalm 23 takes it step further and makes it a point to show God as a Good Shepherd who, like ancient shepherds, knew each sheep by name.

As a result, God as the Good Shepherd does not mean He’s just our protector but also our caretaker. God offers us life and life to the fullest. He provides us with everything we need and more! So without our Shepherd, the reality is we are helpless, which is exactly why Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd in John 10.

In His own words, Jesus tells us in John 10:14-15: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep, and they know me just as my Father knows me and I know my Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Ultimately, it’s Jesus who is the loving protector and caretaker for His flock. He is the fulfillment of what David wrote about in Psalm 23, and as we come off an amazing celebration of Easter this past weekend, I pray you will allow this short but powerful psalm to draw you closer to Jesus, your Protector, Caretaker, and Savior!

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