“The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live” (Psalm 23:1–6).
David, probably an old king when he penned the words of the twenty-third Psalm, was thankful for his Divine Shepherd, the One Who led him year after year, in good times and in challenging times. Just as David had once led his sheep, God shepherded David on the “right path” and “through the darkest valley.”
As Israel gathered to worship, they sang the Great Hallel, the Great Praise, giving thanks for a God who had constantly and consistently shepherded them.
The Almighty Shepherd was remembered, honored, and worshipped for miraculously leading their ancestors out of Egyptian bondage. They sang, “He divided the Red Sea; His faithful love endures forever; and led Israel through; His faithful love endures forever; but hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His faithful love endures forever; He led his people in the wilderness; His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 136:13-16).
That historical event was told and retold by every generation. Their great, great... grandparents had paraded through the Red Sea, walking on dry soil. “The Lord drove the sea back with a powerful east wind all that night and turned the sea into dry land. So the waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with the waters like a wall to them on their right and their left” (Exodus 14:21–22).
The path through the Sea must have been a twelve-lane super-express way to accommodate the multitudes of fleeing Israelite slaves! There were “six-hundred-thousand able-bodied men” (Exodus 12:37) and all their families. A couple of million folks crossed the Sea, “along with a huge number of livestock, both flocks and herds” (Exodus 12:38). The Great Shepherd of Israel did that! “He divided the Red Sea ... and led Israel through!” (Psalm 136:13-14).
When Israel’s multitudes safely reached the eastern banks of the Red Sea, “Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea returned to its normal depth. While the Egyptians were trying to escape from it, the Lord threw them into the sea. The water came back and covered the chariots and horsemen, plus the entire army of Pharaoh that had gone after them into the sea. Not even one of them survived” (Exodus 14:27–28). So they sang, remembering that the Great Shepherd of Israel also “hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea” (Psalm 136:15).
The Great Hallel reminded Israel that God, the Creator, Redeemer, Shepherd and Deliverer, was worthy of their thankful worship! He still is!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.