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Bethlehem: David and the Psalms

Bethlehem: David & the Psalms


Welcome to the Holy Land and the biblical site of Bethlehem. See the Bible come to life as we take a look at one of the key events from the Scriptures that took place here. In this area that David grew up and wrote many of the Psalms. Here are some key points to help us understand this area better.


Bethlehem means, “House of Bread”.  Maybe because many wheat and barley fields were in this area.  We know that in the story of Ruth and Boaz that Boaz was a wealthy farmer from Bethlehem who had a large field of barley here and that Ruth gleaned these fields to provide for her and her mother in law, Naomi.


King David was born and raised here in Bethlehem. It was in the hills surrounding Bethlehem that David wrote many of the Psalms we find in Scripture.


Let’s take a look at Psalm 23 which is one of the most famous and well known of all the Psalms David wrote. So here we read in this God-inspired Psalm of how God is our shepherd and does the following for us:


"The LORD is my shepherd I shall not want"

  • David was a shepherd and understood shepherding very well. A shepherd was the least sought after job. It’s boring, lonely and entails long hours.

  • During David’s long hours he learned to sing, play instruments, write Psalms, throw rocks with a sling and learned about leadership.

  • God is our shepherd and provides all we need both physically and spiritually if we’ll follow and obey Him.


"He makes me lie down in green pasture"

  • The green pastures of Bethlehem were desert areas so green pastures were like heaven to a desert animal and shepherd. It was in these green pastures David led his sheep and realized that God leads us to as well.


"He leads me beside still water"

  • To a desert shepherd caring for his sheep, water was more important than food and was life itself. These waters in the desert were accessible, peaceful, and gave new life.

  • God does the same for us as He leads us by still waters.  He refreshes and sustains our soul. In fact, Christ referred to Himself as, “the Water of life”. Desert people certainly understood the value of water and that it was the most important thing for survival.


"He restores my soul"

  • To restore speaks of giving new life, new strength, new desire to go on, of healing, and of a new purpose for living.


"He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake"

  • The paths on the hillside of a desert lead to many areas, some good, and some bad.  God leads us in the paths that lead to goodness and health and we can trust Him to lead us in the right way.

  • 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.

  • It doesn’t matter what storms life may bring us, we can face them all because God will be with us.  God’s rod and staff correct us, guide us, and comfort us.  A shepherd's rod or staff was his main instrument to guide and direct.


"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows"

  • In the presence of our enemies and even evil, we still find blessing and joy in the Lord. Our cup overflows with goodness and joy and God sustains us in the midst of trials and difficulties.


"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

  • The goodness of God will bless us all the days of our lives.

  • We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  

  • As a result, we have extreme hope and purpose in this life and in the life to come.

  • This anchor of the soul keeps us steadfast despite what life, enemies, sin, and trials may bring us.


What can we learn from this beautiful Psalm?

  • David took advantage of his free time and developed his gifts and abilities so later on God could use these for His kingdom and purposes.

  • David learned key truths about God that would provide the foundation for his success and leadership qualities as he meditated on the Lord and His Word.

  • So I should ask myself if I’m taking advantage of my free time to develop my skills for God or not?

  • Am I developing my relationship with God during the desert times in my life so I can be more a more useful tool in the hands of God later on?

  • Do I have the kind of relationship with God that allows Him to lead and correct me as well?

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