"The Lord is my Shepherd . . . he bore the sin of many . . ." Psalm 23 / Isaiah 53
One of my favorite Scriptures is the twenty-third Psalm; it is among the first that I memorized as a child. It brought me great comfort when I was young, as it does today. This Psalm is a tender, joyful picture of a loving Shepherd who watches over his flock. It is an intimate look at how God loves and cares for his children.
With Good Friday upon us, I've been thinking of how in Bible-time days, Jewish families when preparing for Passover, would select a perfect lamb, and then bring it into their homes and care for it. The children of those households, which undoubtedly were like most children, would have bonded with the lamb. The little creature surely brought them comfort and joy. Yet, as they welcomed it into their homes, delighted in it and loved it, within a few short days their joy was crushed by the stark reality of what that lamb meant for their lives—it would be sacrificed to pay for their sins.
Today, while reading Psalm 23, Isaiah 53 echoed in my mind. The thought struck me that my Good Shepherd, the One who brings me comfort and joy, the One I welcome into my life, is my Good Friday hope! The Lamb who was crushed for my sin, the Lamb who brings me peace with God, is my Good Shepherd, the One who watches over me!
As you read the following juxtaposed Scripture verses, I hope you ponder anew the high price the Good Shepherd paid to bring us the comfort, joy, and provisions spoken of in Psalm 23 and Isaiah 53. Wonderfully, this gift is available to everyone who calls on the name of the Lord!
Psalm 23 / Isaiah 53
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
The punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. . . . Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
*Read these verses together with your family or during a Good Friday worship service. To emphasize the echoing effect of Isaiah 53 to Psalm 23 have two people or two groups take turns reading the Scriptures or have a congregational responsive reading, whereby the Pastor and Congregation take turns reading.
*Exodus 12:1-14; see also Romans 10:13.
Copyright 2016 - Sarah A. Keith
Teach PSALM 23 to children. Get our five-part lesson series on The GOOD SHEPHERD, for K-5th grade.
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