Psalm 23: 1, 4, 5 by Derek Prince
All the passages below are taken from Derek Prince’s book, “Through the Psalms,” published in 1983.
One All-Sufficient Relationship (38-39)
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not lack.
Psalm 23:1 AMP
I never read those familiar words without marveling. Familiarity has never diminished their impact. What tremendous confidence David had! What absolute security! “I shall not lack.” There will never arise a need in my life for which I shall not have the supply, no matter what the need may be. Whether it be spiritual, physical or financial, the supply is guaranteed. “I shall not lack!”
If David had added anything to his statement, he would have spoiled it. If he had said, “I shall not lack money, or food, or health, or clothes”—or whatever else—he would have set limits to his statement. But he left it unlimited. “I shall not lack”—period!
What was the secret of David’s assurance? Is it possible for you and me to share that assurance? David’s secret is very simple, very clear: “The LORD is my shepherd.” That was the sole and sufficient basis of David’s assurance.
It is not a statement of doctrine, but of a relationship—an intimate personal relationship with the Lord.
The statement is in the present tense—“The Lord is my shepherd”—not “was,” not “will be.” David is not looking back to the past, or ahead to the future. He focuses on the immediate present. Here and now—just at this moment—the Lord is my shepherd. Just two persons are involved—the Lord and David.
On the basis of a similar relationship, each of us may have a similar assurance. Here and now I am related to the Lord as my shepherd. Out of that relationship I have total security. I know that all my needs will be supplied.
Lord, I affirm that You are indeed my shepherd, and I thank You for the assurance that all my needs will be supplied.
The Valley of the Shadow (40-41)
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me..
Everything David says in this psalm is the outworking of the opening statement: “The LORD is my shepherd.” It all flows out of his direct, personal relationship to the Lord as his shepherd.
Here David speaks of what this relationship means to him when he walks through “the valley of the shadow of death.” God does not guarantee us that we will never walk through this valley. In fact, David’s words imply that at some time or other we will. Nor do I believe that “the valley of the shadow of death” is only, or primarily, the experience of physical death when our life on earth ends. Elsewhere in Scripture the same phrase, the shadow of death, is applied to situations in this present life.
I believe there can be many occasions in this life when we walk through this valley of the shadow: occasions of bereavement, loneliness, sickness, persecution, discouragement. The Lord does not promise that we will not walk through this kind of valley. But He does promise to be with us. In particular, He makes His rod and His staff continually available to us. The rod represents discipline; the staff represents support. It is significant that the rod comes before the staff. If we want God’s support, we must first submit to His discipline. On that basis, His presence with us is guaranteed even in the darkest valley.
Lord, I gladly receive both Your rod and Your staff.
When I come to the valley, I know I will not be alone.
God’s Banquet Table (42-43)
YOU prepare a table before me
in the presence on my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
All that is contained in this verse flows, just as the previous verses do, from the great basic relationship stated in the opening verse: “The LORD is my shepherd.” Once this relationship has been established in our lives, the outworking of it can be the same for each of us as it was for David.
The fifth verse—here quoted—unfolds three main aspects of God’s provision for us: a prepared table; our head anointed with oil; our cup overflowing. At first we might conclude that all this indicates a situation in which everything is going just the way we want and we have no problems and no opposition. But the very opposite is the case! All this bounteous provision of God is made available to us “in the presence of our enemies.” It is important to realize that the presence of our enemies cannot keep us from enjoying God’s complete provision for us.
On the contrary, it is in just such a situation that God especially delights to demonstrate both His power and His abundance. In the presence of our enemies God spreads His banquet for us. Then He says to our enemies: “This is my provision for My children. They will enjoy it right before your eyes’, and you will not be able to harm them or take it from them.”
Sometimes, however, we are tempted to take our eyes off the Lord and focus on our enemies. Then we begin to say, “If it were not for my enemies, I know that God would bless me and provide for me.” Instead our attitude should be, “Because of my enemies I am expecting God’s best.”
I will not let fear of my enemies keep me from
enjoying God’s best, wherever He provides it for me.