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The lord is my shepherd (Psa. 23:1) – Message from Primate Okoh – Part 1


Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate of all Nigeria (Anglican Communion)

Psalm 23, from where our theme: “The LORD is my Shepherd” is derived, is one of the most popular Psalms. Some learnt to recite this Psalm as infants and in some homes, it is part of daily prayer. It is one of the places in Scripture that are so powerful and deep, that to recite them is to experience them. As Lloyd Stilley said, “The Psalm itself is green pasture; the Psalm itself is still water; the Psalm itself restores my soul.” Psalm 23 is a favourite Bible passage of countless numbers of people. Many have found hope and strength in it in times of great fear and panic. Many resort to it because of its prayerful contents and encouraging messages of God’s providential care for His children.

Biblical Concept Of “The Lord” And The Shepherd” Metaphor
The chief subjects of Psalm 23 are the words “LORD” and “Shepherd”. LORD came from the Hebrew name of God “Yahweh” (also written as Jehovah). That is the name of God most often written in the Hebrew Bible and is frequently written as Jehovah and Yahweh by non-Jews and written in most English editions of the Jewish Bible as Lord, owing to the Jewish tradition increasingly viewing the divine name as  too sacred to be uttered. Kyrios or kurios (Greek: κύριος) is the Greek equivalent of Yahweh, which is usually translated as “lord” or “master”. In biblical usage, it is sometimes translated as God. It is used in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament. Kyrios appears about 740 times in the New Testament, usually referring to Jesus Christ. This was the name revealed to Moses, “I AM”, as he was being sent to Pharaoh. Jesus Christ, in His I AM sayings also took the name, and further distinguished Himself as the Good Shepherd.


David’s confidence in the LORD that made him to call the LORD his Shepherd was based on his knowledge of the LORD. David knew Him to be the Creator of heaven and earth, the LORD of the universe. He is the Source of life and all things that exist. David knew Him as the LORD of history, Who has spoken and acted in history. He is the mighty One in battles, Who neither slumbers nor sleeps. He is the LORD Who loves, cares and is both willing and able to provide. He never goes out of supply, always reliable in season and out of season. David, therefore, had enough reasons to trust Him as his Shepherd. It was with this confidence in the LORD that David confronted Goliath. “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, Whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s…” (1 Sam. 17:45-47) and the LORD indeed gave him victory.

In ancient Israel, shepherding was the commonest engagement of the people. Therefore, they knew much about the roles of a shepherd to the flocks. David was himself a shepherd and must have written from personal firsthand experiences in the trade. For the Jews, the shepherd has basic roles, failing which he is considered a bad shepherd. These roles include but may be not limited to: Ensuring that the sheep lack nothing; Keeping them from straying; Protecting them from danger; Finding good pasture/feeding them; Bringing them to still waters/place of rest; Keeping them healthy.

A careful study of Psalm 23 will show that these were David’s expressions of what God does in his life as his Shepherd.
(Culled from THE OPENING ADDRESS by His Grace, The Most Revd. Nicholas D. Okoh, MA, Fss, Mss, LLD, DD.; Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate Of All Nigeria to The Standing Committee of the Church Of Nigeria held in the Cathedral Church of St Andrew Warri from February 4 to 8, 2019)

In this article:
Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh
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