David the king of ancient Israel wrote Psalm 23.
And what better author to write a psalm on God’s pastoral provisions than King David? We know of this man from Scripture as a shepherd who personally knew the Lord and his provisions.
David the Shepherd
David was a shepherd. When he went down to what would become his famous confrontation with Goliath the Philistine, you recall that his brother was not very happy with his visiting them. Eliab, David’s oldest brother angrily questioned him in I Samuel 17:28, “Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness?” But what Eliab is testifying to there is the fact that David was a shepherd from his early teen years.
David, No Hireling
And David was no hireling. He was serious about shepherding and was serious about his sheep. In that same episode where David came to help his brothers at the battle with the Philistines, he was moved to fight for the Lord’s sake. So, he was brought to King Saul where David gave an account of his heroic shepherding. In I Samuel 17:34-36, David tells Saul this story from his life as a shepherd, “Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: 35 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 36 Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear…”
David the King
So, David was serious enough about his duties as a shepherd that he was willing to attack a lion and a bear to defend his sheep. And God used David’s selfless and fearless shepherding experience in service to Him and His people as the King of Israel.
And God reflects on that fact in II Samuel 7:8, where after years of David being a shepherd – not of sheep, but of God’s people – the Lord says to David, “I took thee from the [sheepcote/pasture], from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel…”
So, David himself testifies to the fact that he was a shepherd. The Lord does as well. He was a shepherd to literal physical sheep and to God’s people.
So, what better man to write a psalm reflecting on God’s own shepherding of his people than David?