One of my favourite portions of scripture is Psalm 23. It is a Psalm that I return to regularly to remind myself of the way God describes his relationship with his people. (Other references to God as a Shepherd are Ezekiel 34 and John 10).
The picture of a shepherd and his sheep is an intimate picture of dependance and trust. The sheep is totally dependant on the shepherd. There is never a dialogue between the sheep and the shepherd about where to go or about what would be an appropriate course of action in the circumstances. The shepherd leads and the sheep follows. The shepherd provides and protects and the sheep is well nourished and is secure.
In this Psalm we see God as our provider - I shall not want. We see God as our source of spiritual nourishment and sustenance - green pastures. We see God as the restorer of our soul - still waters. We see God as our guide into his ways - paths of righteousness. We see God as our defender and constant companion - he is with us through the valley of the shadow of death. God comforts and admonishes us with his rod and staff. God is able to laugh at the intimidation of the enemy and prepare a feast for us in the midst of great adversity. God is the one who anoints us with the Holy Spirit causing our lives to be full of grace and ease as well as full of his supernatural power to live and to do what he calls us to do. He lavishes us with goodness and mercy and enables us to live in his presence all the days of our lives.
The Lord is my Shepherd!