This Psalm follows along from Psalm 3 and has links to David’s fleeing Jerusalem from his son Absalom. Many people have risen against him, and few take his side in the civil war, to begin with. His number one advisor, Ahithophel, deserted him and joined with Absalom.  The book of 2 Samuel tells us that David valued Ahithophel’s advice as advice directly from God. Shimei cursed as he fled from Jerusalem. His son led an army that could have destroyed him that very day, as Ahithophel advised if he had listened to him. But God intervened, and Absalom took the wrong advice, and David was delivered from the coup. David did not trust his army, but he rested confidently in God’s will. He told his men that he was OK with that if God took the kingdom from him and his very life. If God delivered him from the situation and sustained his life and kingdom, he was OK with that as well. That’s how David concludes the fourth Psalm. Verse 8 says, “In peace, I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

As the Shepherd boy of Psalm 23, we see David confident in God’s provision as his Great Shepherd. David begins his Psalm with, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” God will provide all he needs in life, food, water, and a comfortable place to rest his head. He finds that when he rests in the Lord, he has peace. Even when he’s under attack from enemies, he can rest securely in the care of the Great Shepherd. Psalm 23 goes on, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

In the Gospel of John, Jesus uses David’s shepherd analogy to assure us that He is the Great Shepherd that David trusted in. In John 10:11, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus wants all his sheep to know that we, too, can lay down in peace and sleep securely under his care. We need not fear what might happen to us. Jesus makes us dwell in safety. This is what he reminded his disciples of before he left them to die on the cross.  In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” We rest securely in the arms of Jesus! The shadow death did not disturb David; it need not disturb us. We are saved by faith in Jesus, not by the works of our hands. He carries the rod and the staff. He has done the job. Jesus will not let us down. He says in John 10:14, continuing his discussion of being the Good Shepherd, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me.”