In verses 1-3, he expresses the certain truth that the Lord takes an interest in His “sheep” and takes good care of them. He will provide all we need; we shall not be in need of any good thing. He provides nourishment for our souls through the “food” of His Word and guides us in the way we should go.
The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
In verse 4, David expresses his reliance on God’s protection. Whatever trial we face (even if it is death itself), we do not have to be fearful because the Almighty God is with us. (Did you catch that? The ALMIGHTY GOD is with US, guiding each little wayward sheep.) His protection (rod) and guidance (staff) should be our comfort. Whom shall we fear????
Yea, 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.
Matthew Henry says it this way:
Even in the supposition of the distress, there are four words which lessen the terror: - It is death indeed that is before us; but,
- It is but the shadow of death; there is no substantial evil in it; the shadow of a serpent will not sting nor the shadow of a sword kill.
- It is the valley of the shadow, deep indeed, and dark, and dirty; but the valleys are fruitful, and so is death itself fruitful of comforts to God's people.
- It is but a walk in this valley, a gentle pleasant walk. The wicked are chased out of the world, and their souls are required; but the saints take a walk to another world as cheerfully as they take their leave of this.
- It is a walk through it; they shall not be lost in this valley, but get safely to the mountain of spices on the other side of it.
In verses 5-6, we see God’s plentiful provision and blessing prepared for us, both in this life and the one to come. The fact that the table is prepared for us in the presence of our enemies reflects that we are to be an example to the watching world. They will see the blessings of God upon us as we go through trials and they will also see how we respond. In the end, David declares that all earthly struggles dim in comparison to the heavenly blessings to come.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Lord, when I am going through difficult times, please help me to focus on Your guidance and protection as David instructs us in this Psalm. May I have a heavenly perspective so that the watching world will see Your blessings upon me and glorify You.