2 min read

Heart Before Mind (SQR Devo)

The image of the shepherd in Psalm 23 elicits and emotional response that draws us closer to the Lord.
Heart Before Mind (SQR Devo)
Photo by Biegun Wschodni / Unsplash

Scripture: Psalm 23 (CEB)

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd.
    I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
    he leads me to restful waters;
        he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths
    for the sake of his good name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
    they protect me.

You set a table for me
    right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
    my cup is so full it spills over!
Yes, goodness and faithful love
    will pursue me all the days of my life,
    and I will live in the Lord’s house
    as long as I live.

Quote: Heart Before Mind

Often, a person's heart must be captured before the mind can follow. This rarely happens through a list of "proofs" or logical syllogisms...the human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor."

Joshua D. Chatraw, "Telling a Better Story," 45


The Bible is full of word pictures, stories, imagery, and meaningful symbolism. Psalm 23 is one example of a poetic image that depicts the Lord as a shepherd leading his flock. Is the Lord literally a shepherd? No, not in the literal sense, anyway. Even Jesus, when he walked this earth, did not herd sheep, so far as we know.

The image of the shepherd is essential, however, because it tells us something about the nature of our Lord. For those of us removed from an agricultural context where working the land and walking with herds is fairly uncommon, this image might be difficult to capture fully. For people of that time, it would have been a powerful and emotionally evocative image, not aimed at the mind but the heart.

Throughout history, we can see that people are emotional beings. We are relational beings. We are storytellers. Much of the Bible reflects this. In Psalm 23, we aren't given a list of facts about the Lord. Instead, we are given poetic reassurance designed to elicit an emotional response. Because our Lord is a shepherd, we:

  • lack nothing we need because the shepherd provides.
  • are protected, nourished, and sustained by the shepherd.
  • can live righteously by walking the right path.
  • are unafraid, even in dark places, because the shepherd is with us.
  • need not fear those who might do us harm.
  • can live fully knowing that we will be with the Lord forever!

Heavenly Father, thank you for this beautiful image of the shepherd guiding its sheep in Psalm 23. What a beautiful picture of protection, wisdom, and nourishment for those who walk with the shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Help us, Lord–your people, your church—to learn to walk with you more and more, to love you more and more, and to trust you more and more. Like sheep who know the voice of their shepherd, let us know your voice well and respond faithfully when you call.

Thank you for walking with us. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Shepherd, we pray. Amen.

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