“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)
The 23rd Psalm is perhaps the best-loved chapter in the Bible, with its beautiful picture of Christ as the Shepherd. This chapter finds its New Testament exposition in John 10:1-30, where Christ identifies Himself as “the good shepherd” who “giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
These two chapters (Psalm 23; John 10) are probably the two greatest chapters in the Bible on the security of the believer in Christ. This theme seems woven by divine inspiration into the very structure of the passages. For example, there are six verses in the poetic structure of the psalm, each containing a different testimony concerning the providing and protecting Shepherd. In similar fashion, there are six times the word “shepherd” is used in John 10, each referring again to the work of our Good Shepherd. There are also six references in the other books of the New Testament where Christ is referred to as a shepherd.
The intensely personal aspect of the 23rd Psalm is evidenced by David’s use of the first-person pronouns (“I,” “me,” “my,” etc.) no less than 17 times in its six verses, all expressing his absolute trust in the Lord. Similarly, the word “sheep” is used 17 times in John 10, with the grand theme again stressing the security of the sheep. This number “17” repeatedly seems to crop up in Bible passages related to our security in the Lord. As one example, the famous passage ending the eighth chapter of Romans lists exactly 17 things that can never “separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:35-39).
In any case, this marvelous psalm of security concludes (as it began) with a great promise and testimony, which can be paraphrased as follows: “Surely [Christ’s] goodness and lovingkindness will pursue me as long as I live, and then I will dwell in God’s great heavenly family through all the ages of eternity!” HMM