Jeremiah’s 23rd Psalm

The 23rd Psalm is one of the most famous passages
in the Bible – outside of John 3:16 of course. It has been adapted into pop
culture, it is printed onto the front of Bible covers, and it is worn on
t-shirts, but have you considered that the 23rd Psalm contains
themes that can be found throughout God’s word? First, we’ll read Psalm 23, and
then we’ll see Jeremiah’s use of it in his prophetic book.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  (2)  He
maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still
waters.  (3)  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 
(4)  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. 
(5)  Thou preparest a table before
me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup
runneth over.  (6)  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
” (Psalm
23:1-6).
For the goal of brevity, we will remain in Jeremiah 2, but
Jeremiah continues the theme of shepherds all throughout his book. To make it
easier, I’ve rearranged the passages into several sections. The reader is
encouraged to develop some of these on their own, but I’ve made one or two
remarks for each section.
The Lord is my
shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures…

Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I
remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when
thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown
” (Jeremiah
2:2).
Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that
they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain

(Jeremiah 2:5)?
 “And I
brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness
thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an
abomination
” (Jeremiah 2:7).
For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou
saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green
tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot
” (Jeremiah 2:20).
Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast
brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face:
but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us
” (Jeremiah
2:27).
But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if
they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy
cities are thy gods, O Judah
” (Jeremiah 2:28).
O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness
unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will
come no more unto thee
” (Jeremiah 2:31).
When the nation of Israel was in its youth, it followed the
Good Shepherd through the wilderness to green pastures, but the people had
forsaken God and went after idols made of stone and wood – idols that did not
bring them out of Egypt to care for them as God had done. In the first century
God raised up a “prophet like Moses” to lead the people out of the bondage of
sin and into the “good pasture” of the kingdom of God. See Ezekiel 16 for more
on these ideas.
He leadeth me beside
the still waters…

 “For my
people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living
waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water

(Jeremiah 2:13).
And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters
of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of
the river
” (Jeremiah 2:18)?
Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but
thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them
will I go
” (Jeremiah 2:25).
The nation of Judah didn’t have to be thirsty, but they
elected to by trying to create their own ways, by going after other waters, and
by losing faith in God. Jesus offers the waters of life to us today if we will
accept.
Though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death…
Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land
of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of
pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land
that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt
” (Jeremiah 2:6)?
Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall
reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that
thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the
Lord GOD of hosts
” (Jeremiah 2:19)

God led the people through the shadow of death and was able
to protect them, but when they arrived at the Promised Land they forsook God, and they forgot where deliverance came from like Nebuchadnezzar did (Daniel
4:30). They stopped fearing the Lord, so all of their greatest fears came upon
them!
Is the Lord your shepherd? Do you trust Him to lead you to the living waters and the green pastures?

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