Psalm 23: Divine Promises of Provision, Assurance, and Hope

Written on July 23, 2022 | by Jun P. Espina | 13 min read

Of Divine Promises in Psalm 23

Bible students love to examine Psalm 23 for exhaustive study. I heard a sermon about it just recently, and I wanted to stretch my take on this Scripture. First, David authored this psalm. He said, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Christ expanded this passage by saying, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) Our Lord sealed off the depth of this psalm, “written about Me.” (See Luke 24:44). As with other Scriptures, Psalm 23 earns our sacred spiritual care.

What is the Meaning of Psalm 23?

Every preacher or Bible student sees scriptural points in Psalm 23 in different gradients. The Web also offers a mountain of sermon outlines for this psalm. One preacher said that when the Lord is your Shepherd, you will be fully satisfied in times of adequacy (vv. 1-3); adversity (vv. 4-5); and for all eternity. (v. 6) I like this sermon outline. It’s all about life’s satisfaction, according to him.

As I listened to the sermon and glanced at Psalm 23, I found other points from the viewpoint of divine promises.

Let’s study the content of this Scripture:

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You
have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

What are these divine promises covered in Psalm 23? They are the promises of DIVINE PROVISION (I shall not want – vv. 1-3); DIVINE ASSURANCE (I fear no evil, for You are with me – vv.4-5); and DIVINE HOPE (I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – v.6).

Of Connecting Psalm 23 to Christ

The word “Lord” in Hebrew is “Yahweh,” but we are justified in connecting it to our Lord Jesus as our Shepherd since it is how Christ taught it. “I am the good shepherd,” He said. From this viewpoint, we can now expand our sermon divisions to look like this:

1) Christ’s Divine Provision.
2) Christ’s Divine Assurance.
3) Christ’s Divine Hope.

With Christ’s Spirit in our bodies as the temple of God (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16)—whom we have received by faith—we can faithfully declare that we have a divine Provider, a divine Guarantor, and a divine Hope-Bringer in our precious lives.

We can condense Psalm 23 into one sentence. David tells us that if the LORD IS OUR SHEPHERD, surely GOODNESS and MERCY will FOLLOW US until WE COME TO HEAVEN, OUR FINAL HOME.

Christ’s Divine Provision in Psalm 23

Psalm 23 means nothing without the statement, “The Lord is our shepherd.” It’s like saying heaven provides for us BECAUSE THE LORD IS OUR SHEPHERD. We are assured and guaranteed by God BECAUSE THE LORD IS OUR SHEPHERD. We have a living hope of everlasting bliss BECAUSE THE LORD IS OUR SHEPHERD.

I remember the story about one Christian missionary who gave a beggar his last penny. When he opened his mailbox, he found a letter containing plenty of cash. In his excitement, he mumbled Proverbs 19:17, which says: “If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD—and he will repay you!” (NLT) God repaid him with interest. It is how divine provision works.

God promised us the divine provision of a greener pasture (v. 2) so that we will need nothing (v. 1) along with the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. (v. 3)

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Why Do We Connect Our Divine Provision to Our Lord Jesus?

It is like asking, “Why don’t you mention Christ in your sermon today?”

If you want a bland and lifeless sermon, try delivering a lesson on “God, God, God” without bringing Christ up in the conversation. Islam, Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the SDA, the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), and other anti-Jesus groups have given us enough “God, God, God” exegesis. We are not expected to imitate the cult in our pulpits.

About Christ in Psalm 23?

What about the import of Christ in Psalm 23? Well, it is the secret of C. H. Spurgeon: We need to look for a path, he said, toward Jesus in every passage of Scripture. It is the secret of one pastor who ordered his lectern carved with, “WE WANT TO SEE JESUS.” Christ Himself taught it: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER BUT THROUGH ME.” (John 14:6)

Are you a preacher? Where is Christ’s honor and glory in your sermons? I challenge you if Christ is your first love. But if your doctrine is “God, God, God,” I should say, you’ve imbibed the waters of man-made doctrines from the deep well of John Piper, John MacArthur, and other modern Hyper-Calvinists.

Have you heard about John Piper’s “Christian Hedonism?” It is the piperian punchline “that God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him.” I often hear it from preachers who are not controlled by Christ’s Spirit, who is the Owner of truth.

Will Christ fill you with His Spirit when you don’t even mention His glory in your sermons?

Will Christ fill you with His Spirit when you don’t even mention His glory in your sermons?

The subtle Hyper-Calvinists (the modern John Piperians, so to speak) love to lecture us about SOVEREIGN God, SOVEREIGN grace, love God . . . love God while denying artfully Christ’s honor and glory.

READ MORE: Hyper-Calvinism Rejected by Biblical Christians

The Fixation on Being Chosen by the Father (Predestination)

psalm 23

The fixation on being chosen by the Father (predestination) before the creation of the universe is the source of these guys’ theology, which glorifies the Father in their sermons with the honor and glory of Christ barely mentioned in a 45-minute sermon.

According to a settled biblical precept, we must glorify the Father God through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of our sins (which were atoned for by the blood of Christ) and God’s holiness, we cannot alter this standard. Wrote the apostle Paul: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17, ESV)

John MacArthur’s Confession of Predestinarian Unhappiness

When the modern Hyper-Calvinist, John MacArthur, was asked about his view on PREDESTINATION, he answered: “Any tension you have between that and the doctrine of divine election and predestination; any tension you feel in those areas, I feel. I feel the same tension. I ask the same question. I don’t know that there’s some kind of quick answer to the question…. Ya; the best answer to this question is, ‘My brother, I feel your pain’ (crowd laughter).” [1]

Christ said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) Our Lord will give us rest, but MacArthur’s teaching gave him a burden, tension, and pain for a doctrine he embraced that makes God responsible for people’s wickedness and their ultimate predestination to hell.
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John Piper is a Predestinarian

John Piper is also endorsing Predestinarianism. He said, “Who is doing the hardening [of Pharaoh’s heart]? Forster and Marston assume it is Pharaoh and not God [‘the hardening of man by God appears as self-hardening.’] But in view of the prediction of 4:21 (‘I will harden’) this assumption loses its plausibility.” [2] (Piper was quoting Exodus 4:21.)

Because God does not enable humans to do evil, we reject his doctrine. God never exhorts anyone to commit sins against Him. Long before he met Moses, Pharaoh turned away from the God of Jacob, the God of righteousness. They kept the Jews in servitude for 400 years and even slaughtered male Israelite babies when they were born.

God did not actively harden Pharaoh’s heart; rather, Paul said: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.” (Rom. 1:28, KJV) According to Paul, “For this reason [no love for the truth] God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.” (2 Thess. 2:11) Pharaoh hardened his own heart. (Ex. 8:15)

READ MORE: Of Vessels for the Master’s Use

Avoid Piperianism at All Costs.

I always cringe when a so-called well-educated preacher shows support for Piper in his pulpit. Piper is the “God, God, God” preacher to the extent of preaching “Christian Hedonism” (pleasure of the senses). He said, ‘If this is true, that God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him . . . then the vocation of your life is to pursue your pleasure. I call it Christian Hedonism.’ [3]

Piper also said: ‘Could it be that today the most straightforward biblical command for conversion is not “Believe in the Lord,” but, “Delight yourself in the Lord”? And might not many slumbering hearts be stabbed broad awake by the words “Unless a man be born again into a Christian Hedonist he cannot see the kingdom of God”? (John Piper, Desiring God, page 55).’ [4]

Piper is now preaching a different gospel: “Delight yourself in the Lord,” instead of “Believe in the Lord.” Think about that. He does not want to give honor to Jesus Christ, our Lord. And you still want to follow him?

Why Do We Associate Christ with Psalm 23?

Why do we associate Christ with Psalm 23? Is He Our Divine Provision (our heavenly Provider), when the psalmist David talked about the Father (Yahweh) and not the Messiah, who is Christ our Lord? We find our answer in Luke 24:44:

Now He [Christ] said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN ABOUT ME in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the PSALMS must be fulfilled.”

In the New Testament, Christ is our Provider because it is what He taught. In John 14:13-14, He said: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Christ answers our prayers since, in doing so, “the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Our Lord provides. He is our prayer-answering God.

What About Those ‘Hungry’ Christians Out There?

In my 14 years as an independent church worker, I met a ‘hungry’ Christian whose family scrambled for an umbrella when the rain came during the nighttime. His paper house could barely cover them all from the elements of nature. A few months after his conversion, he constructed a concrete house. “How did he do that?” was the question blipping on everyone’s mind in our little church. So I asked him.

“Change of attitude,” he replied. “The same income, but money poured in when I cut off my alcohol addiction.”

Of the Sheep-and-Shepherd Relationship with Christ

Christ said I am the door of the sheep. If anyone enters through Me, he will find pasture. (See John 10:7-10) Hence, we emphasized above the phrase, the Lord is my shepherd, as it teaches a sheep-and-Shepherd relationship with Christ.

Most so-called “hungry” Christians don’t recognize our Lord as their Shepherd. Fake Christianity is just mind-blowing these days.

“But,” you might argue, “born-again Christians are slaughtered like chickens in Muslim or Communist countries. How’s that?”

Well, Christ said, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matt. 24:9, NIV)

A Million Reasons Why Christ Seems to Bypass You

Even the apostle Paul experienced all sorts of sufferings as a believer. “We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind,” he said. “We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.” (2 Cor. 6:4b-5)

Even though we are not on a rose-colored road, Christ is our Provider. My ten-year financial footing, for example, was reduced to ashes by a tremendous fire, which our Lord permitted. Christianity is not milk and honey. The prosperity-gospel preachers around us rely more on psychology than the Scriptures.

Regarding food shortages at home, we cannot blame Christ for our laziness or lack of resourcefulness to feed our family. Or, perhaps, we elected a corrupt leader, immortalized his murders, and celebrated with him when he said, “Who is that stupid God?”

Christians can sometimes become a deceived flock when they source their so-called truth from “TikTok,” while cobwebs enfold their Bibles.

Some Christians in our country voted recently for a tax-evader candidate. This guy does not know economics and even questioned the scientific validity of the 6.1 inflation rate in his country. He promised P20.00 per kilogram of rice during the campaign. This stuff is pure deception. If you are deceived and hungry, don’t blame Christ. Blame yourself and your politics.

There are a million reasons Christ seems to have bypassed you regarding His blessings from above.

Of a Different Spiritual Spot

If you are a devout Christian but unprovided by heaven, perhaps you are in a different spiritual spot, just like the apostle Paul, experiencing sickness, persecution, and hunger.

“Where’s Christ’s promise of a heavenly provision, assurance, and hope in your case?” we can question Saint Paul.

The Apostle will respond: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” (2 Cor. 2:14) Paul is saying that although we are going through hardships, our relationship with Christ is functioning well, like “the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him.”

It is the context of Psalm 23. In verse 3, the psalmist said: “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”

For God always links our life’s events as Christians with “the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Fake Christians don’t have that kind of wisdom. Theirs is to blame God when life gets difficult.

A Summary of Paul’s Sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33

  • in far more labors
  • in far more imprisonments
  • beaten times without number
  • often in danger of death
  • Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes
  • Three times I was beaten with rods
  • once I was stoned
  • three times I was shipwrecked
  • a night and a day I have spent in the deep
  • I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers
  • dangers from robbers
  • dangers from my countrymen
  • dangers from the Gentiles
  • dangers in the city
  • dangers in the wilderness
  • dangers on the sea
  • dangers among false brethren
  • I have been in labor and hardship
  • through many sleepless nights
  • in hunger and thirst, often without food
  • in cold and exposure
  • there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches

Where are the Divine Promises in the Life of Paul?

The above query is just like asking, “Why did the early Church Fathers get martyred? Or why are most preachers poor?”

In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul wrote: “[W]e are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” This is how our Provider, Christ, acts. He will never turn His back on us.

I experienced pleading with God to provide us with a home, but I quickly abandoned the thought when I realized I lacked the funds to undertake such a venture. We finally constructed a respectable two-story home after about ten years. My wife then remarked, “We had forgotten our prayer for a house, but our Lord remembered it.”

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Ps. 23:1)

The promise of a divine provision in Psalm 23 and verse 1 is contextually connected to verse 3, as already mentioned. If you don’t have dinner tonight despite your prayers and born-again Christianity, perhaps it is God’s process of restoring or rebuilding your soul away from certain earthliness or a misdirection. It says that God “restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”

Christ’s Divine Assurance in Psalm 23

In Psalm 23, David said our Shepherd can provide us with a sense of safety amid the dangers of life. Again, we connected this passage to our Lord Jesus, since He is our Shepherd. Note Psalm 23:4-5:

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You
have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

I remember how God assured the safety of David when King Saul pursued the former. God caused the latter to “relieve himself” (bathroom needs!) inside a cave where David and his men hid. (1 Sam. 24:3) David could have killed Saul since he got close to him and “cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly.” (v. 4) God prepared “a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Ps. 23:5). We see from this passage of Scripture that divine assurance is given because the Lord is David’s Shepherd.

“I fear no evil,” he said, “for You are with me.”

Why Do People Hate the Doctrine of Divine Assurance?

I enjoy taking part in Facebook groups that teach man-made doctrines, such as the Catholic apologists and the Hyper-Calvinists’ forums. Out of curiosity, I did this stuff. However, one Facebook group wanted me to declare that I do not believe in divine assurance. Most people simply detest Bible truth like a disease.

In this life and beyond, our only Divine Assurance is our Lord Jesus. Some are enslaved to coronaphobia as if it were the greatest danger facing humanity. They are mistaken, for the utmost threat besetting everyone is a divine judgment in hell because of sin. From this scriptural expectation against all sinners, Paul wrote:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38-39)

Paul said that in Christ Jesus, we have divine assurance and eternal security. That is why we maintain that our Lord Jesus is our divine assurance. Without a relationship with Christ as your Shepherd by faith, you could not enjoy this supernatural confidence that my cup overflows with the shield and protection of Christ against everything, including the wrath of our Father God.

We are Secure in Christ

Sheep are defenseless and easily get lost. Some say they are geographical morons. But if the Lord is our Shepherd, we need nothing, according to David.

I met a pastor who told me that my belief in eternal security is nothing but eternal presumption. I don’t know what kind of Bible he is reading. For I learned from Christ’s lips that He would provide me with eternal security as His child. Observe John 10:27-30:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I GIVE ETERNAL LIFE TO THEM, and THEY WILL NEVER PERISH; and NO ONE WILL SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

If you think Christ is not our Divine Assurance, then you have a serious reading problem with your Bible.

READ MORE Saved Eternally and Assuredly from God’s Wrath

Christ’s Divine Hope in Psalm 23

A year after my baptism, I bought a cassette tape that contained Christian songs and hymns. The musicalized Psalm 23:6 was my favorite because it says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days, all the days of my life.” It means Christ’s goodness and gracious love will pursue and chase me. How satisfying is it?

I was previously without a home, but our Lord Jesus pursued me and gave me a home.

“Here’s your house, my child.”

Isn’t it biblically reassuring?

“I will ask the Father,” taught our Lord, “and He will give you another Helper [NASB’s footnote says: COMFORTER, ADVOCATE, INTERCESSOR as an alternative rendering of the word “Helper”], that He may be with you forever.” (John 14:16)

READ MORE: Spiritual Stability of Those Applying Christ’s Word

Christ’s Everlasting Intercession for His Children

The word “forever” teaches us that Christ’s intercession for us will not expire after this life. Jesus Christ is our Divine Hope, our eternal Hope in this life and beyond the grave.

The apostle Peter said that Christ’s resurrection grants us a living hope “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power.” (See 1 Pet. 1:3-5)

I find the reference to the sheep in the Bible a desirable field of study. “The Lord is our shepherd.” Christ is even called the Lamb of God.

Sheep are shepherd-driven. Our sheep-Shepherd relationship with Christ, as foreshadowed in Psalm 23, explains the need to have Christ in our souls by faith.

God’s Goodness Will Chase After Us in Christ

In Psalm 23:6, David said, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

I like to meditate, and Psalm 23:6 has always been one verse in the Bible that has helped me grow deeper in my faith in Jesus. When I consider my blessings, this verse is always in my thoughts.

I will undoubtedly fill all of my days with goodness and mercy since my life will last forever in my heavenly home.

How About You?

How about you—are you a believer?

One Christian writer said that “Christian hope is a certainty, guaranteed by God himself. . .. Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of his life, and every moment beyond it, the believer can say with truth, on the basis of God’s own commitment, that the best is yet to come.”

If you have accepted Jesus into your life by faith, the best is yet to come. If you want Christ’s Spirit to give you a living hope that will never “spoil or fade,” put your trust in Him.

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N O T E S

[1] califgracer. “John MacArthur Speaks on Predestination: A Rebuttal”. https://expreacherman.com/2013/07/09/2034/. expreacherman.com (accessed July 21, 2022).
[2] Craig Truglia. https://orthodoxchristiantheology.com/2016/04/24/john-piper-ascribes-to-predestinarian-heresy/. “John Piper Suscribes [sic] to Predestinarian Heresy?” Orthodox Christian Theology (accessed July 21, 2022).
[3] The Real John Piper. “John Piper’s Error”. therealjohnpiper.com. https://www.therealjohnpiper.com/john-pipers-error/ (accessed July 20, 2022).
[4] The Real John Piper. “Welcome to our website.” therealjohnpiper.com. https://www.therealjohnpiper.com/ (accessed July 20, 2022).
 
 

 
 

About Jun P. Espina

A former educator, Jun P. Espina is a family man, author, blogger, painter, a Bible believer, a preacher, businessman, a lover of books—passionate about many things. He believes life is good when fed constantly with the biblical truth that is wiser than what most people think. Find him at Facebook,Twitter,or at www.junespina.com.


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